By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 19, 2010 at 7:35AM
For the second weekend in a row, the top two films were in such a neck-and-neck race that the Sunday box office estimates were turned around on Monday. So this weekend, Lionsgate's Kick-Ass, while not scoring the $20-30 million weekend some were forecasting, did win the weekend b.o. derby. UPDATE: According to Box Office Mojo, Thursday night numbers are included in the total.
Matthew Vaughn's R-rated comic-book actioner grossed $19,828,687 for the weekend, squeaking past the 3D animated family film How to Train Your Dragon, which has been building steam over the past month. According to a Lionsgate press release, thanks to Kick-Ass and Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married, Too? the indie distrib booked 6500 screens last weekend, or 16% of the theaters in the U.S. and Canada.
Clearly, the distrib is seeking to put on its best face at a time when it is fighting for survival against billionaire investor and board member Carl Icahn's bid to take over the company. Lionsgate needed a big win, not a so-so opening. If the company had expectations of a super-score, the film's tracking never indicated more than a young male demo. Because the company needed a bigger hit, they tried to make it so, buoyed by its strong reception at Comic-Con, Butt-Numb-a-Thon and SXSW. I never thought the they'd pull women, even if their research showed that it played for them. Problem is, perception of a soft opener is the last thing Lionsgate needs at this moment.
“Kick-Ass is fantastic, highly original entertainment," stated Lionsgate Co-COO Joe Drake, "and our marketing and distribution teams have brilliantly positioned it for a long and successful run. That kind of run is precisely what we are seeing on the international front, where Kick-Ass has demonstrated a very strong hold at the box office; in Great Britain alone, it’s taken in nearly $13.8 million in 17 days.”
Lionsgate has to bank that its upcoming slate does well, including the Robert Luketic romantic comedy Killers, starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl (June 4); Sylvester Stallone’s action/thriller The Expendables, starring Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li and Mickey Rourke (August 13); and Daniel Stamm’s horrific The Last Exorcism, produced by Eli Roth (August 27).
Here's the Kick-Ass trailer: