Talk about the boys stealing the girls’ lunch: Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was the big man at the box office bullying the No. 1 spot away with $24.4 million from Warner Bros.’ kewpie dolls action flick Sucker Punch, which fell wounded in second with $19 million.
Although Sucker Punch ruled Friday with $8 million, fanboys turned their backs on the film Saturday with a day-to-day drop of 17%. Meanwhile, Rodrick Rules rallied a 39% spike Saturday thanks to family matinees. The weekend box office illustrates that a robust film campaign for an original title (Warners' Sucker Punch) is no match for a pre-sold brand (Fox's kid lit franchise Diary of a Wimpy Kid. See Box Office Chart, film details, review links and trailers below.
While Warner Bros. tub-thumped Sucker Punch for eight months across many media, including a TV spot spend north of $50 million, Fox easily spread the word about its sequel in less than three months via a print campaign that duplicated the signature Wimpy Kid book illustrations. Similar to its first installment last spring which was made for $19 million and grossed $75.7 million worldwide, Rodrick Rules was built to make a profit with a production spend of $21 million. Also working to Rodrick Rules’ advantage: 14% of the K-12 set were out of school; 59% were under 25 with a male/female ratio of 51/49%.
“You don’t know it’s a franchise until the sequel works, beams Fox senior distribution v.p. Bert Livingston on the success of Rodrick Rules, which earned an A- Cinemascore and an A among those under 18. "And when the audience likes it better than the first one and the exits are great – it’s a franchise,”
For all its originality and tantalizing promotion, it’s truly a B.O. sin that Sucker Punch fell below its $20-million projection. Zack Snyder had been a savior at the spring box office with his comic book adaptations 300 ($70.9 million opening) and Watchmen ($55.2 million opening), but even with a PG-13 rating, the Sucker Punch bow ranks below other R-rated pre-summer fanboy fare such as Miramax’s Sin City and Warner Bros.’ Constantine. which both opened to $29 million-plus.
A lack of marquee names didn’t help, but no actresses in their teens/early 20s boast a track record to open a studio movie. In the end it was clear that Warner Bros.’ Sucker Punch print campaign, as created by comic book artist Alex Pardees, attracted fanboys and alienated everyone else. (See my analysis of Sucker Punch and fanboys.) True, the studio took great strides to educate non-fanboy audiences on Sucker Punch, but women didn't buy the film’s female empowerment message. Ladies repped 36% of the crowd, which was 64% male, with 75% under 35. Further evidence that fanboys were the only ones to come out: 21% of Sucker Punch’s gross came from 229 IMAX sites. Auds overall gave Sucker Punch a B-; the under-18 set gave it a B+. Warners hopes that global results will recoup Sucker Punch's reported $82-million budget.
Elsewhere this weekend, word-of-mouth fueled strong holds for Relativity's Limitless and Lionsgate's The Lincoln Lawyer, which savored respective drops of 19% and 17%. And two 2011 entries crossed the $100 million mark: Paramount's animated Rango and Sony's Just Go With It, which is Adam Sandler's twelfth $100-million-plus grosser in thirteen years.
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Fox) $24.4 million in its first weekend at 3,167 theaters. $7,704 theater average. Domestic total: $24.4 million.
2. Sucker Punch (WB) $19 million in its first weekend at 3,033 theaters. $6,269 theater average. Domestic total: $19 million.
3. Limitless (Relativity) $15.2 million down 19% in its second weekend at 2,805 theaters. $5,428 theater average. Domestic total: $41.3 million.
4. Lincoln Lawyer (Lionsgate/Lakeshore): $11 million down 17% in its second weekend at 2,707 theaters. $4,065 theater average. Domestic total: $29 million.
5. Rango (Paramount/ILM): $9.8 million down 35% in its fourth weekend at 3,645 theaters. $2,689 theater average. Domestic total:$106.4 million.
6. Battle: Los Angeles (Sony): $7.6 million down 48% in its third weekend at 3,118 theaters. $2,437 theater average. Domestic total:$72.6 million.
7. Paul (Universal/Relativity): $7.5 million down 42% in its second weekend at 2,806 theaters. $2,675 theater average. Domestic total: $24.6 million.
8. Red Riding Hood (Warner Bros.): $4.34 million down 40% in its third weekend at 2,715 theaters. $1,599 theater average. Domestic total: $32.5 million.
9. The Adjustment Bureau (Universal): $4.2 million down 27% in its fourth weekend at 2,282 theaters. $1,860 theater average. Domestic total: $54.9 million.
10. Mars Needs Moms (Disney): $2.186 million down 59% in its third weekend at 2,170 theaters. $1,007 theater average. Domestic total: $19.2 million.
11. Beastly (CBS Films): $2.185 million down 32% in its fourth weekend at 1,585 theaters. $1,379 theater average. Domestic total: $25.3 million.