By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 23, 2013 at 4:18PM
"Croods," the first Dreamworks Animation entry released by new distribution partner 20th Century Fox, and "Olympus Has Fallen" from FilmDistrict both took in over $10 million Friday. Two films grossing over $30 million for the weekend will be a first for the year that has seen few with even one film performing that well, a positive sign after weeks of overall decline.
The overall total for the top ten was up $15 million -- over 50% --from last week. But with the same weekend last year having the opening of "The Hunger Games" (a $67 million first day, $152 three-day) to compare with, the year-to-year lag will increase. On an MPAA conference call with press on Thursday, NATO chief John Fithian admitted that March's year-to-year comps will be thrown off by "Hunger Games."
For Dreamworks, "Croods" represents a chance to rebound after their $87 million write-down of "Rise of the Guardians" (despite a $300 million worldwide gross). Positioned to take advantage of ongoing spring vacations (which will make the weekdays stronger and sustain their gross for the next two weeks), their number yesterday indicates the film could, even with its $135 million budget plus marketing costs, be a success.
"Olympus Has Fallen," with a $70-million budget far more expensive than most films released by acquisition-minded distributors like FilmDistrict, looks to perform above expectations for the weekend. The first of two White House-set action films to hit theaters, the film could struggle, like "The Croods," to show a profit ultimately for all involved. But meantime, if the film has an audience reaction at the level of its opening day, it could have a much better shot than initially expected.
Two other new wide releases came from distributors that are normally more specialized. Though they grossed about the same (just over $2 million), they vary widely in terms of achievement. Focus' "Admission" starring Tina Fey suffered from weak reviews and is a disappointment for its 2,000+ theaters and expense. A24's surprise limited hit "Spring Breakers" more than doubled its initial expected run to over 1,000 theaters and grossed slightly more with a social-media, not TV- driven ad campaign. It has the potential to grow more and show a significant profit.
Last week's top two, Disney's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" and Sony pick-up "The Call" both dropped a bit over 50% from last Friday, although both should pick up a bit more before the weekend is through.