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Weekend Box Office: 'Green Hornet' Nests At #1, 'Dilemma' Disappoints

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist January 16, 2011 at 6:55AM

This is how business works in Hollywood: you break records or else. "The Green Hornet" was a big ticket for Sony, opening at #1 as everyone expected. But that isn't enough for the film, which set the studio back somewhere between $90 (before reshoots?) and $140 million (after?). As such, simply making money wasn't going to do the film any good unless it totally dominated its Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
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This is how business works in Hollywood: you break records or else. "The Green Hornet" was a big ticket for Sony, opening at #1 as everyone expected. But that isn't enough for the film, which set the studio back somewhere between $90 (before reshoots?) and $140 million (after?). As such, simply making money wasn't going to do the film any good unless it totally dominated its Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

And it hasn't. Its total weekend haul of $34m means the biggest MLK weekend still belongs to "Cloverfield," which cost nothing in the neighborhood of "Hornet" and brought in $46.1m over the same period. Tracking and analysis suggested "Hornet" would score these numbers, but when you spend that amount of cash on a movie, you hope to break a record or two, even one as flimsy as the Martin Luther King weekend record. As is, the opening is adequate, and the film could play on 3D screens for more than a month before the next big 3D attraction.

People want to toss "Hornet" on the genre movie scrap heap, and yes, it really is an ugly duckling of a movie, with Cinemascore audiences generally so-so, so future weeks might not be the slam dunk that Sony needs. However, there's international, where they've been intentionally keeping Seth Rogen out of the ads, spotlighting Cameron Diaz and even Jay Chou, both bigger stars in many markets. If the film can connect overseas, then the $100 million tally that this opening suggests may be enough to appease Sony.

Some people thought it would be close between "Hornet" and Ron Howard's "The Dilemma", but they somehow missed the fact that "The Dilemma" looks like the most unwatchable shit ever. After "The Break-Up", "Four Christmases" and "Couples Retreat" maybe people are a little sick of the terms "relationship comedy" and "Vince Vaughn" in the same sentence. Of course, maybe they're also sick of the relationship between "Kevin James" and "oblivious idiots." Ads did a good job of showing Winona Ryder as the bad guy because she cheats on Kevin James with Channing Tatum, but its likely most people just figured, "Well, yeah, of course" and moved on with their lives.

Either way, this is on the low end of billionaire Ron Howard's various openings, and it's the weakest showing by both stars. It wouldn't be so bad if this weren't one of those irresponsible studio pictures where no one took anything below their quote and the budget swelled to $70 million. If the film has legs, it'll be more than fine, but consider that John Cassavetes would have made this movie in the seventies for $5, and it would have been incredible. Today, Ron Howard gets to make it as a sitcom.

Hey, check out the sexy legs on "True Grit." The western is clearly an audience choice that has put pressure on the Academy Awards to avoid making the same mistake the Golden Globes did in not nominating the Coen Brothers film as a populist pick. The picture is making cheddar, and everyone's invited for fondue. Close behind was "The King's Speech," which expanded into a semi-nationwide release successfully, and like "Black Swan" earlier this season is knocking on $50 million without 2000 screens, which is pretty incredible.

Speaking of the Darren Aronofsky ballet thriller, that film also expanded this weekend, smashing its way onto 2000+ screens. The per-screen wasn't too muscular, but the film has already passed $70 million, and if the awards heat catches in the next couple of weeks, it wouldn't be a surprise to see this freakout of a movie (which has outgrossed Aronofsky's other films combined) reach $100 million. Like the weekend's other films, "Swan" leapfrogged "Little Fockers," which looks like it will finish short of $150 million. Even though the film is underperforming, it is depressing to know so many people thought one more go-round with the Fockers was necessary.

"The Green Hornet" commandeering 3D screens landed the death blow to "Tron: Legacy," which could limp to $170 million but is likely done. All things considered, Disney might not be swimming in "Tron" profits yet, but they certainly dodged a bullet by releasing such a poorly written piece of crap with their names on it in a non-competitive environment. "Yogi Bear" continues playing, registering the lowest drop in the top ten, and the film could, SOMEHOW, make a late run to $100 million. That's a lot of pic-a-nic baskets. Perhaps there is a market in parents who detest their children.

Paramount has done a good job keeping "The Fighter" on 2000 screens, but the movie has genuinely failed to catch fire, and a $100 million final tally is highly unlikely. At least it was able to surpass "Season of the Witch", which absolutely collapsed in its second frame by nearly 60%. Dismal all around, Relativity Pictures. Outside of the top ten, "Tangled" hit $180 million, "The Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is at $98m, and "The Tourist" is at $64m, though the Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie pairing looks strong enough to grab a $200 million worldwide tally once you factor in surprisingly strong international notices. Also making hay overseas? "Gulliver's Travels", which is close to tripling its domestic take with international receipts.

In indie theaters, "Blue Valentine" was strong, with $1.4 million on only 230 screens. The week's biggest per-screen was $17k, however, and it belonged to "Barney's Version", debuting at four engagements. It was not the week's biggest indie debut, however, as Freestyle Releasing brought us something called "The Heart Specialist". At 422 locations, this surprisingly star-studded romantic comedy (with the likes of Zoe Saldana, Wood Harris and Ed Asner) didn't exactly break the bank at $540k, but it did do us a favor in reminding us that Mya still exists. Man, we used to love her back in the day.

Support your local arthouse, boys and girls.

1. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony) - $34 million
2. The Dilemma (Universal) - $17.4 million
3. True Grit (Paramount) - $11.2 million ($126 mil.)
4. The King's Speech (The Weinstein Company) - $9.1 million ($45 mil.)
5. Black Swan (Fox) - $8.1 million ($73 mil.)
6. Little Fockers (Universal) - $7.1 million ($134 mil.)
7. Tron: Legacy 3D (Disney) - $5.7 million ($157 mil.)
8. Yogi Bear 3D (WB) - $5.4 million ($82 mil.)
9. The Fighter (Paramount) - $5.1 million ($66 mil.)
10. Season of the Witch (Relativity) - $4.5 million ($18 mil.)

This article is related to: Films, Super Hero Films, The Dilemma, True Grit, The Green Hornet


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