By Gabe Toro | The Playlist April 3, 2011 at 5:00AM
While Universal’s animated division remains behind Disney and Dreamworks, “Hop” became their second straight surprisingly big opening this weekend, collecting $39 million. Most called the heavily-promoted film in the high 20’s, low 30’s, but like “Despicable Me” before it, the film definitely connected with family audiences in its first frame. While “Despicable Me” eventually collected $544 million globally with a much bigger opening, “Hop” isn’t expected to bust the doors down. But due to the seasonal and family appeal, expect this thing to have legs, and while they initially weren’t counting on $100 domestic, that should be easily surmountable from here, with $150 million being a solid preliminary target. Fanciful returns for the studio, who have kept the budgets for the partly-animated “Hop” and the fully animated “Despicable Me” well under the industry-standard $100 million.
Mixed results for “Source Code.” The film is genuinely hard sci-fi, but Summit was smart enough to try to sell the action instead. A premise this twisty and unconventional is a tough sell, so there are a lot of leading men that get this to about half of the $14 million tally this weekend. While director Duncan Jones gets into the big leagues with this effort, the jury is out on Jake Gyllenhaal as a leading man - he can’t necessarily open a picture, but at least his last two films (“Love And Other Drugs” and “Prince of Persia”) actually did close to three times their domestic gross in overseas receipts. Jake Gyllenhaal - big in Japan.
Credit to fledgling distributor FilmDistrict, who opened their first offering, “Insidious,” with double digit returns. Apparently the budget was kept at $1 million, with international sales more than reaping a pretty penny, so everyone is a big winner. The film was actually sold on the “Saw” association (and a tenuous “Paranormal Activity” connection), suggesting James Wan has entered the pantheon of respectable horror directors. Fantastic. Don’t expect his next offering to be “From the director of ’Insidious’” but “From director James Wan” isn’t out of the question.
Last week’s number one, “Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” dropped 58%, a slightly higher drop than its predecessor, but both lost audiences at a similar rate after a bigger-than-expected opening. While these pictures don’t play overseas, the “Diary” films are cheap, so after that first weekend, everything is gravy. The film barely kept pace over “Limitless” and “The Lincoln Lawyer,” both playing to very specific demographics and losing very little of their audiences per-weekend. “Limitless” is threatening minor blockbuster status, while “Lincoln” again posted the lowest audience drop in the top ten. Both should play to steady audiences for the next few weeks, as they are anomalies - movies not made for twelve year old kids. Well, mostly “The Lincoln Lawyer.”
Woe is Warner Bros., who watched “Sucker Punch” plummet like few would-be blockbusters before. The film is genuinely being rejected by critics and audiences, with women, the target audience, staying home and the remaining audience draw, young males, giving the film a B- Cinemascore. Zack Snyder is one of the few filmmakers who was given the key to the kingdom, and while we won’t say Snyder’s vision is one of integrity, failures like this unfortunately give studios a reason not to invest in original visions. So the next time your favorite director asks for anything over an $80 million budget on a fresh script, executives will say, “We don’t want another ‘Sucker Punch.’” Which is one step beyond “Sucker Punch” becoming a code name for a strategy that seems risky but is really just only slightly ambitious, mostly dumb and likely a failure. Man, Eli Manning called a real “Sucker Punch” of a play.
“Rango” continues to lose altitude at a heavier pace than the usual kid-pic, The picture looks spent around $120 million domestic, with $200+ global, which is dicey considering this was probably 2011’s most expensive offering, though Paramount can at least crow about having 2011’s biggest earner so far. “Paul” and “Battle: Los Angeles” are also wrapping up, with “Battle” hoping to crawl to $90 million. How many costly failures can the studios afford this year?
In indie theaters, "In A Better World" debuted to $35k, modest numbers dwarfed by last year's "The Secret In Their Eyes," the previous Best Foreign Film Oscar winner. "Super" is a VOD offering, so the theatrical take is something of less importance, though the eleven screen $52k opening wasn't exactly sizzling. Technically, the week's biggest specialty debut was "Trust," though the Clive Owen-starrer needed twenty-eight engagements to register $60k, a week $2k per-screen average. "Queen To Play" was more respectable, garnering $32k on five screens, a solid debut for one of the lower-profile releases this weekend.
"Le Quattro Volte" grabbed a strong $18k at its sole engagement in New York City, easily the week's best per-screen. Meanwhile, the PG-13 re-release of "The King's Speech" tallied $1.2 million on slightly over a thousand screens, a feeble gross for a much-touted, needless edit. Not all was lost for indie holdovers, however, as "Win Win" catapulted into a $1.2 million gross for a $7k average in weekend three, while "Jane Eyre" posted a similar $1.2 million on slightly more screens. And finally, surprisingly robust numbers for "Certified Copy," which has grossed $650k in three weeks despite a muted arthouse release. Support your local arthouse, boys and girls.
1. Hop (Universal) - $39 million
2. Source Code (Summit) - $14 million
3. Insidious (FilmDistrict) - $11.8 million
4. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Fox) - $10 million ($38 mil.)
5. Limitless (Relativity) - $9.7 million ($56 mil.)
6. The Lincoln Lawyer (Lionsgate) - $7.8 million ($40 mil.)
7. Sucker Punch (Warner Bros.) - $5.8 million ($30 mil.)
8. Rango (Paramount) - $4.9 million ($114 mil.)
9. Paul (Universal) - $4.3 million ($32 mil.)
10. Battle: Los Angeles (Sony) - $3.5 million ($78 mil.)