Weekend Box Office: Alice in Wonderland, Wimpy Kid Ride Spring Break Swells

by Anthony D'Alessandro
March 21, 2010 4:16 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
TOH's box office analyst Anthony D'Alessandro reports on the weekend returns (box office chart on the jump), which benefited from kids on spring break.

While three new wide releases couldn't cut the head off Alice in Wonderland's still robust weekend box office, two titles, Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Sony’s The Bounty Hunter were successfully counter-programmed against the March hit.

Audiences continued to feed Disney’s Alice $34.5 million of box office cake at 3,739 venues this weekend, down 45% with a jabberwocky size total cume of $265.8 million.  Worldwide, the film is looking at a $566 million gross, with 72% of the title’s $300 million foreign haul coming from 3D hubs.  Despite the continued onslaught of upcoming 3D entries such as Paramount-DreamWorks Animation How to Train Your Dragon and Warner Bros.’ Clash of the Titans, Disney is still looking at a $300 million-plus domestic take.   Alice, however, could fall short of beating The Passion of the Christ ($370.8 million) as the top domestic grossing pre-summer title, a film which heavily mined Lent church-going crowds.

Thompson on Hollywood
Even with Alice devouring the multiplex, there was enough room for Fox’s Wimpy Kid to soar with $21.8 million from 3,077 sites in second place. The film, co-produced by former Disney development executive Nina Jacobson, is based on the 2007 New York Times bestseller by Jeff Kinney about the woes and wisecracks of a middle-school boy. Film stars Steve Zahn (Daddy Day Care), Rachel Harris (The Hangover) and Zachary Gordon in the title role.

“When there are films out there that the marketplace wants to see, it will expand and this is a beloved property,” said Fox senior vice president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson.

Both Alice and Wimpy Kid capitalize on kids being out on school break. 20% of the nation’s schools were on recess Friday. That figure will get into the single digits next week before escalating to a point where the largest concentration of schools are off (75%), following Good Friday.

Sony was happy with the $21 million opening of The Bounty Hunter at 3,074. Director Andy Tennant has a flair for crowd-pleasing romantic comedies, and Bounty charted just under the bow of 2008’s Fool’s Gold ($21.8 million). Bounty seized 58% of females overall, with half of its audience split evenly between the under and over 30 demo. Bounty was co-financed by Relativity Media.

One blogger nipped at Bounty Hunter earlier this weekend saying how the film charted less than Jennifer Aniston’s $30 million-plus bows, The Break-Up and Marley and Me, as well as Gerard Butler’s The Ugly Truth ($27.6 million). However, those romantic comedies were summer or Christmas releases. For Bounty to rack up $21 million during a moviegoing season prime for kids out of school ain’t too shabby.

Continuing its b.o. slump, Universal followed last weekend’s misfire Green Zone with another Relativity co-production catering to guys, opening the R-rated sci-fi entry Repo Men at 2,521 venues. With $6.2 million, Repo Men barely broke into theaters, coming in under the studio’s mid-teen B.O. estimates. Overall, the film attracted 60% male and 40% female with a Cinemascore of B.

Starring both Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, one print campaign placed Law’s figure in the forefront of 2007 best actor Oscar winner Whitaker. Both are top-notch, respectable actors, however, the thesps’ best bows were generated by those titles in which they either shared a credit with another marquee actor, ensemble cast or appeared in a franchise-like title. Law’s best live-action bows at the B.O. include Sherlock Holmes ($62.4 million), A.I. Artificial Intelligence ($29.4 million) and Road to Perdition ($22.1 million) while Whitaker saw first weekend highs with the Jodie Foster vehicle Panic Room ($30.1 million) and multi-cast thriller Vantage Point ($22.9 million).

The upside with Repo Men is that the film touts a much lower budget than Green Zone: $32 million versus $100 million-plus.

Summit Entertainment expanded Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer from 224 theaters to 819, earning $2.1 million in eleventh, up 70% with a running estimated domestic cume in its fifth week of $6.8 million. And Apparition chief Bob Berney was elated with the returns from the limited 244 run of The Runaways, about the Joan Jett ‘70s rock band, which grossed $803,629, saying “overall reaction was very good and key reviews were positive.” The film played at core theaters in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Austin to a 25+ crowd, that was 60-70% female. For more on the indie box office, including Greenberg's opening in three theaters, check indieWIRE.

WEEKEND B.O. CHART

1. Alice in Wonderland (Disney): $34.5 million, down 45% in its third weekend at 3,739 theaters. $9,229 theater average. Domestic total: $265.8 million.
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Fox): $21.8 million in its first weekend at 3,077 theaters. $7,085 theater average. Domestic total: $21.8 million.
3. The Bounty Hunter (Sony): $21 million in its first weekend at 3,074 theaters. $6,831 theater average. Domestic total: $21 million.
4. Repo Men (Universal): $6.2 million in its first weekend at 2,521 theaters, theater average $2,440. Domestic total: $6.2 million.
5. She’s Out of My League (Paramount): $6.0 million, down 38% in its second weekend at 2,958 theaters. $2,033 theater average. Domestic total: $20.0 million.
6. Green Zone (Universal): $5.96 million, down 58% in its second weekend at 3,004 theaters. $1,985 theater average. Domestic total: $24.7 million.
7. Shutter Island (Paramount): $4.8 million, down 42% in its fifth weekend at 2,704 theaters. $1,759 theater average. Domestic total: $115.8 million.
8. Avatar(Fox): $4 million, down 39% in its 14th weekend at 1,236 theaters. Theater average $3,236. Domestic total: $736.9 million.
9. Our Family Wedding (Fox Searchlight): $3.8 million, down 50% in its second weekend at 1,609 theaters. $2,362 theater average. Domestic total: $13.7 million.
10. Remember Me (Summit Entertainment): $3.3 million in its second weekend at 2,215 theaters, theater average $1,480. Domestic total: $13.9 million.

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