By Anthony D'Alessandro | Thompson on Hollywood April 3, 2011 at 4:30AM
Weekend box office was up 6 percent over last weekend, led by Russell Brand family pic Hop, which exceeded expectations with the best opening of the year so far, followed by strong ticket sales for indie thrillers Source Code and Insidious. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:
Universal’s live-action toon Hop leaped past its industry projections this weekend and bore a litter of cash with $38.1 million – the best bow to date, inching past Rango’s first frame which grossed a few thousand less. Although the frame also served up a number of competitors to Hop--Summit Entertainment’s Source Code earned $15 million in second, FilmDistrict’s horror film Insidious stabbed $13.5 million in third and the PG-13 re-release of Weinstein Co.’s The King’s Speech fell outside the top 10 with $1.19 million--the Easter Bunny comedy had a lock on families.
Hop easily marked the best opening for a PG-rated title in April, outstripping the $21.1 million earned by Disney’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But what does that mean? Typically, a kid pic like Hop goes out in March, but with the Easter holiday falling late this year, the share of kids off from school has been spread over March and April. This frame alone, 18% kids were off from school this weekend. Exhibitors and studios don’t have the luxury of reaping a fortune off of the K-12 grades in one clump period like last year. "As one district goes back to school, another one gets off," observed Universal distribution chief Nikki Rocco.
Any grey cloud-news about the current box office recession should come with an asterisk: comparison to April’s $177 million first weekend last year is largely apples-to-oranges. A year ago, Easter vacations fueled the opening for Clash of the Titans which topped the chart with $61 million. The good news: the top 12 B.O. for this weekend is trending ahead of last weekend by 6%; the second up frame in a row as of late. Hop’s bow is low compared to previous spring family fare which bowed to $40 million-plus, i.e. DreamWorks and Fox animation films. However, the Relativity Media/Illumination Entertainment co-production should hit high multiples in the weeks to come and recoup its $63 million budget, especially with an A- CinemaScore. 73% of Hop’s audience was made up of the 25+ set. Of those, several were parents of a child under 13. Of Hop’s kid demos, most were girls; 57% were under the age of 12, and 63% over.
Hop touted 92 tie-in partners and licenses, valued at $76 million, with a big push from such family brands as Wal-mart, Hallmark, Burger King and the Hershey Company. The most prolific promo partner, Wal-mart, offered an array of crossover Hop and Easter tchotchkes. Like many Universal big pics, Hop was a global launch; the Russell Brand pic accrued $7 million overseas this weekend from 2,362 playdates; the major markets being the U.K., Italy and Germany. Heading toward the Bunny holiday, more markets are set to open.
As an adult suspense title which skewed 64% over 30, Source Code’s business was largely fueled by glorious reviews, earning a fresh 89% on the Tomatometer. Audiences, mostly guys (54%), thought it was OK with a B CinemaScore. Source Code’s opening is in sync with the teen-range openings of such praised fare as The Lincoln Lawyer ($13.2 million) and Limitless ($18.9 million) and if the older folks keeping chatting Source Code up, the film should register just as solid holds. Raising the profile for Source Code, Summit premiered it at SXSW last month. Jake Gyllenhaal needs to generate some solid B.O. following the actor’s crash at the multiplex with The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($90.8 million) and Love and Other Drugs ($32.4 million). Should the Source Code do well, Gyllenhaal might have to delay his announced plans to get behind the camera. Source Code was financed by Vendome Pictures for $32 million.
New distrib on the block FilmDistrict sold its first film, the $1.5 million demon-possession thriller Insidious, to horror aficionados on its creatives’ brand names: Saw auteur James Wan and co-writer Leigh Wannell plus Paranormal Activity producers Oren Peli, Jason Blum and Steven Schneider. Sony Pictures Worldwide picked up Insidious for seven figures at the Toronto Film Festival; FilmDistrict took over its domestic release in January. The well-reviewed flick's $13.5 million launch marks a boffo start--far more than the expected $8 million opening-- for FilmDistrict's distribution and marketing team, led by long-time collaborators Jeanne and Bob Berney, who reports that the PG-13 film lured teens and young women as well as the expected fanboys, and cites the national impact of Roger Ebert and Christy Lemire's upbeat reviews. The film drew mostly 52% male, comprised mostly of Latino and Caucasian audiences (71%). The 18-29 demo repped 51% of the crowd with 43% under 21.
Box Office Top Ten Chart:
1. Hop (Universal/Relativity) $38.1 million in its first weekend at 3,579 theaters. $10,651 theater average. Domestic total: $38.1 million.
2. Source Code (Summit/Vendome) $15 million in its first weekend at 2,961 theaters. $5,084 theater average. Domestic total: $15 million.
3. Insidious (Film District) $13.5 million in its first weekend at 2,408 theaters. $5,604 theater average. Domestic total: $13.5 million.
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Fox) $10.2 million down 57% in its second weekend at 3,169 theaters. $3,219 theater average. Domestic total: $38.4 million.
5. Limitless (Relativity) $9.4 million down 38% in its third weekend at 2,838 theaters. $3,313 theater average. Domestic total: $55.6 million.
6. Lincoln Lawyer (Lionsgate/Lakeshore): $7.05 million down 34% in its third weekend at 2,606 theaters. $2,772 theater average. Domestic total: $39.6 million.
7. Sucker Punch (WB) $6.09 million down 68% in its second weekend at 3,033 theaters. $2,006 theater average. Domestic total: $29.9 million.
8. Rango (Paramount/ILM): $4.56 million down 53% in its fifth weekend at 3,134 theaters. $1,455 theater average. Domestic total:$113.8 million.
9. Paul (Universal/Relativity): $4.3 million down 45% in its third weekend at 2,550 theaters. $1,700 theater average. Domestic total: $31.9 million.
10. Battle: Los Angeles (Sony): $3.5 million down 54% in its fourth weekend at 2,263 theaters. $1,547 theater average. Domestic total:$78.5 million.
In a Better World, Sony Pictures Classics
Dir: Susanne Bier; Cast: Mikael Persbrandt, Ulrich Thomsen, Trine Dyrholm | 63% Metacritic, 81% Tomatometer | indieWIRE | TOH! Interview with Susanne Bier | Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Winner.