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How to Train Your Dragon Roars Past The Back-Up Plan

by Anthony D'Alessandro
April 25, 2010 4:30 AM
1 Comment
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Thompson on Hollywood

How to Train Your Dragon came roaring back at the weekend box office, proving that fab word-of-mouth trumps familiar old-hat formulas every time. Jennifer Lopez rom-com The Back-Up Plan came in second, and DC comics movie The Losers was a disaster, coming in fourth behind Date Night. Anthony D'Alessandro dissects the numbers.

Never dis a dragon – even at the box office.
 
Paramount-DreamWorks 3D toon How to Train Your Dragon continued to flap its legs, err wings in a murky April weekend session, earning $15 million at 3,665 theaters.  Dragon slipped 23% in its fifth weekend raising its domestic cume to $178 million. Overall, weekend receipts counted an estimated $95 million, off 10-15% from a year ago.  Distribs account the drop to the lack of film product in the market, particularly with Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps moving out of the month.

In terms of its ranking in the box-office chart, Dragons is faring better than last spring’s Monsters vs. Aliens (final domestic B.O. $198.4 million), which stayed buoyant in the top 10 through Memorial Day weekend, but gradually slid down. Currently, the running domestic tally of Dragon is outpacing Monsters vs. Aliens by 2% respectively compared to its fifth frame. Not to mention Monsters was ranked sixth at this point in time last year.


 
The Top Ten Box Office Chart is below.

Jennifer Lopez’s first wide release in five years, CBS Films’ pregnancy romantic comedy The Back-up Plan took second with $12.25 million at 3,280 birthing centers. Despite how the blogsphere is couching this opening, this is what the average JLo romcom pulls in on its first weekend, following in the vein of 2001’s The Wedding Planner ($13.5 million) and 2004’s Shall We Dance ($11.8 million). A close-call for No. 1 isn’t expected this weekend given the $2.75 million spread between the top two films.

“This is what our tracking said we would do, this how April romantic comedies open. It’s going to be a profitable run for us and with Nightmare on Elm Street opening next weekend, we think that this film will continue to play to women,” said CBS Films’ distribution head Steven Friedlander.

It is overblown to say that JLo can’t open a movie; even though she did command a salary between $9-15 million at one point, the highest for a Latina leading actress. JLo’s openings have never been in Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts’ $25 million-plus range. Both actresses have shown that they have the potential--in the right vehicle--to bow at that figure or higher. JLo is bankable, and a distributor can depend upon her to open and deliver final figures at the box office that are profitable. By no measure is The Back-up Plan a Gigli, which generated a sour $6.1 million domestic tally saddled by a $54 million budget. Costing an estimated $35 million, The Back-up Plan scored high with the ladies, drawing 71% with 57% over 30 and 21% of the audience being Latino. Film’s overall Cinema Score was a B.

JLo’s last opener 2005’s Monster-in-Law was her highest at $23.1 million largely because it was a May summer romantic comedy and featured Jane Fonda’s first onscreen role in 15 years. JLo’s highest grossing film at the domestic box office, 2002’s Maid in Manhattan ($94 million) had the advantage of playing during the Christmas season as a romantic comedy counter-programmer against tentpole films (much like Miss Congeniality or Two Weeks Notice).

Targeting $9.6 million at 2,936, Warner Bros.’ shoot-em up DC comic book adaptation The Losers about a team of rogue CIA agents, didn’t gain steam by following the second weekend of a similar genre holdover Kick-Ass which also fizzled with $9.5 million at 3,065. Film stars Harry Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen as well as Zoe Saldana – who curiously isn’t the center point of the studio’s print ad campaign, nor Sony’s Death at a Funeral (she’s flushed to the left in both films’ one sheets), given her B.O. track record in such tentpoles like Avatar and Star Trek. As initially tracked, young men adored Losers making up 60% of the film’s total crowd, with another 64% of all guys being under 35.

Disney’s Oceans, the second in its nature documentary series following last spring’s Earth drew $8.5 million since its Thursday Earth Day bow. Film was heavily targeted toward schools. The figure for Oceans is just under what Earth generated in three days: $8.8 million.

Following the path of other fan-boy films, Lionsgate’s Kick-Ass declined 52% in its second weekend – on par with the drop that Sin City, another April R-rated comic adaptation, posted. Currently, the $34.9 million running B.O. for Kick-Ass is falling behind Sin City compared to its first 10 days by 31%, largely because that 2005 film had a bigger blast out of the gate with $29 million. Sin City ended its stateside run with $74.1 million.

Here's the top-ten box-office chart:

1. How to Train Your Dragon (Paramount): $15 million down 23% in its fifth weekend at 3,665 theaters. $4,100 theater average. Domestic total: $178 million.
2. The Back-up Plan (CBS Films): $12.25 million in its first weekend at 3,280 theaters. $3,735 theater average. Domestic total: $12.25 million.
3. Date Night (Fox): $10.6 million down 37% in its third weekend at 3,294 theaters. $3,218 theater average. Domestic total: $63.5 million.
4. The Losers (Warner Bros.): $9.6 million in its first weekend at 2,936 theaters. $3,271 average. Domestic total: $9.6 million.
5. Kick Ass (Lionsgate): $9.5 million down 52% in its second weekend at 3,065 theaters. $3,101 theater average. Domestic total: $34.9 million.
6. Clash of the Titans (Warner Bros.): $9 million down 42% in its fourth weekend at 3,271 theaters. $2,751 theater average. Domestic total: $145.6 million.
7. Death at a Funeral (Sony/Screen Gems): $8 million down 51% in its second weekend at 2,459 theaters. $3,253 theater average. Domestic total: $28.4 million.
8. Oceans (Disney): $6.0 million in its first weekend at 1,206 theaters. $4,976 theater average. Domestic total: $8.5 million in four days
9. The Last Song (Disney): $3.7 million down 38% in its fourth weekend at 2,794 theaters. $1,326 theater average. Domestic total: $55.4 million.
10. Alice in Wonderland (Disney): $2.2 million, down 39% in its eighth weekend at 1,385 theaters. $1,619 theater average. Domestic total: $327.5 million.

1 Comment

  • Tim | April 26, 2010 4:30 AMReply

    It's Jeffrey Dean Morgan, not Harry.

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