If anyone was doubting the vitality of 3D fare at the box office, look no further than this weekend.
Warner Bros.’ $125 million redux of 1981 cult film Clash of the Titans smashed Easter opening weekend records, slaying an estimated $61.4 million at 3,777 Greek amphitheaters and dispelling notions that audiences are fatigued by 3D -- particularly after the perceived average $43.7 million bow of Paramount's How to Train Your Dragon last weekend.
However, the box office spoils didn’t just belong to Warner Bros. as two wide frosh titles, Lionsgate’s sequel Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? ($30.15 million) and Disney’s Miley Cyrus chick flick The Last Song ($16.2 million) also benefited from the calendar’s perfect storm of spring break and Easter crowds.
Full box office chart below.
Even with a 31% Tomatometer, critics couldn’t turn Titans’ box office to stone. Counting Thursday night previews, Titans reined in an estimated running tally of $64.1 million. The Greek mythological epic easily toppled the previous Easter opening weekend record owned by 2006’s Scary Movie 4's ($40.2 million) and filed second among April’s highest bows behind last year’s Fast and Furious ($71 million).
The record success of a tentpole like Titans during an Easter frame is quite uncommon. “Traditionally distributors like to go out the weekend before Easter to take advantage of the school holiday,” said Warner Bros. president of distribution Dan Fellman.
This year, the Easter weekend B.O. is expected to hit an all-time high of $184 million, surpassing last year’s record of $155 million. In a last-minute post-production business move that paid off, Warner Bros. decided to 3D-ify Titans, stirring debate among critics and fans that retrofitted visual fare just doesn’t cut it. No matter if you agree with Zeus or Hades on the dimensional debate, Titans played fine with all audiences, earning 52% of its B.O. from 1,800 3D huts.
“It is tough and competitive,” said Fellman about distributors’ battle for 3D venues, “but by this time next year, that problem will be alleviated.”
Recently, there has been plenty of ink arguing that a 3D release doesn’t automatically translate a film into a mega success (i.e. recent misfires include Summit Entertainment’s toon release Fly Me to the Moon at $13.8 million and Disney’s Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience with $19.2 million), however, the majors have been smart about pairing the format with appropriate titles. (They are not likely to mount a 3D reboot of, say, Babette’s Feast.)
3D aside, the success of Titans continues to underscore the longevity of sword-and-sandal fare at the B.O., 10 years after Gladiator jumpstarted the genre long after its ‘50s heyday. The overall core crowd for Titans was between 13 and 39, 64% male and 36% female.
DreamWorks Animation’s 3D Dragon held well in third place with $29.2 million during its second weekend, softly declining its wings 33% from a week ago. That slip bested the second weekend drop of last spring’s Monsters vs. Aliens which fell 45%. As predicted, Dragon has legs. It’s already $8-million shy of the $100-million mark.
Meanwhile in second place, Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? chalked up the filmmaker’s second highest career bow with $30.15 million behind Madea Goes to Jail ($41 million). Lionsgate knows how to program Perry’s urban fare at the box office, often choosing prime dates in the fall, early winter and spring. But according to Lionsgate head of distribution David Spitz, the secret to success with a Perry title is “Tyler Perry himself," Spitz said. "He has a huge following and his audience knows him."
Perry boasts a loyal family following: his audience is predominantly women over 25, many of whom are not frequent moviegoers--except when it comes to Perry. To date, seven of the filmmaker’s nine titles (including Diary of a Mad Black Woman which he did not direct) have chalked up $20 million-plus first weekends. Married Too? marks Perry’s second Easter release following 2008’s Meet the Browns which earned a solid $20.1 million second place bow following Fox’s sophomore frame of Horton Hears a Who.
Even prior to Perry, Easter has been an ideal time for programming African-American titles, with such comedies as the 2005 Bernie Mac/Ashton Kutcher Guess Who charting a $20.7 million opening and 2007’s Are We Done Yet, with $14.3 million.
Last Easter, Miley Cyrus was the queen bee of the holiday frame, strumming $32.3 million for Hannah Montana: The Movie. Disney felt it could still reach her young female fans on spring break again, with testosterone-skewing Titans in theaters. Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, The Last Song tuned up $16.2 million for fourth place over Friday through Sunday and $25.6 million since its Wednesday bow.
Similar to Sparks’ previous bigscreen adaptation Dear John in February, Last Song carries a thrifty pricetag of $20 million. Last Song follows a rebellious teen as she reconnects with her estranged father through their love of music. Greg Kinnear also stars. “We bowed on Wednesday in between two huge titles because we wanted to be noticed,” said Disney distribution president Chuck Viane about the studio’s game plan.
While Disney has no need to duck its head over the estimated returns for the Sparks-Cyrus combo, Dear John still reps the author’s top weekend bow among his screen adaptations with $30.5 million. Dear John currently counts a domestic B.O. of $79.4 million through last Thursday, second to Sparks’ all-time domestic hit The Notebook at $81 million.
Weekend Box Office Chart
1. Clash of the Titans (Warner Bros.): $61.4 million in its first 3-day weekend at 3,777 theaters. $16,256 theater average. Domestic total: $64.1 million.
2. Why Did I Get Married Too? (Lionsgate): $30.15 million in its first weekend at 2,155 theaters. $13,991 theater average. Domestic total: $30.15 million.
3. How to Train Your Dragon (Paramount): $29.2 million, down 33% in its second weekend at 4,060 theaters. $7,192 theater average. Domestic total: $92.3 million.
4. The Last Song (Disney): $16.2 million in its first 3-day weekend at 2,673 theaters, theater average $6,062. Domestic total since Wednesday bow: $25.6 million.
5. Alice in Wonderland (Disney): $8.3 million, down 53% in its fifth weekend at 2,980 theaters. $2,774 theater average. Domestic total: $309.8 million.
6. Hot Tub Time Machine (MGM/UA): $8 million, down 43% in its second weekend at 2,771 theaters. $2,887 theater average. Domestic total: $27.8 million.
7. The Bounty Hunter (Sony): $6.2 million down 48% in its third weekend at 3,118 theaters, theater average $1,988. Domestic total: $49 million.
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Fox): $5.5 million down 46% in its third weekend at 2,842 theaters. $1,944 theater average. Domestic total: $46.2 million.
9. She’s Out of My League (Paramount): $1.463 million, down 58% in its fourth weekend at 1,390 theaters. $1,053 theater average. Domestic total: $28.7 million.
10. Shutter Island(Paramount): $1.462 million, down 54% in its seventh weekend at 1,356 theaters. Theater average $1,078. Domestic total: $123.4 million.