News

'Blades' Takes Gold, 'Robinsons' Merits Silver

by Brandon Gray
Jon Heder and Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory
April 2, 2007

Two broad comedies, Blades of Glory and Meet the Robinsons, skated to the top of the box office as last weekend's releases slipped. After four up weekends in a row, overall business was down ten percent from the same time last year when Ice Age: The Meltdown opened to a spectacular $68 million.

Taking a comparable tack as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby but with figure-skating instead of car racing, Blades of Glory landed $33 million on around 4,400 screens at 3,372 venues. In the vicinity of DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story's debut, the over $60 million picture starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder scored the fourth highest-grossing start ever for a sports comedy and was the second-highest for Ferrell behind Talladega. Paramount Pictures distributed the DreamWorks and MTV Films co-production, which was also produced by Ben Stiller's Red Hour Films (Dodgeball).

In Blades of Glory, Ferrell reprised the over-the-top, boorish, wittily dim-witted type of character that served him well in Talladega Nights and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, his only post-Elf successes. Though Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) was promoted as the co-lead early in Blades' marketing campaign, television ads, posters and billboards leading up to the picture's release pushed Ferrell and excluded Heder. "You lead with your strongest hitter," said DreamWorks spokesman Marvin Levy, though he did not cede the Ferrell focus late in the game. Levy added that the audience was 53 percent under 25 years old and slightly female, according to the studio's preliminary exit polling, while moviegoer pollster CinemaScore's grade was "A-."

A scene from Meet the Robinsons
Meet the Robinsons launched at $25.1 million on 4,400 screens at 3,413 theaters. The weekend included $7.1 million from digital 3-D presentations on 587 screens at 484 locations, which means the 3-D engagements more than doubled the non-3-D ones on average. The computer-animated comedy's debut was solid by the recently lowered standards of the genre, but it was significantly less than Chicken Little and Robots among similar movies.

"It's right on the expectation level [of $25 to $28 million]," said Chuck Viane, Buena Vista's president of distribution. "And of course we're playing into the Easter holiday which begins Monday and by Friday 80 percent of kids will be out of school." Buena Vista's polling indicated that the audience was 78 percent families and 53 percent female, while the CinemaScore was "A-."

Meet the Robinsons's manic ads sold the comedy, centering on gags involving a Tyrannosaurus Rex, singing frogs and a hyper lady with caffeine patches, but not the story, which could only be gleamed from the trailer.

Gerard Butler in 300
Among holdovers, 300 was still in the fight, falling 42 percent to $11.4 million for $179.9 million in 24 days. Its IMAX runs accounted for an estimated $1.5 million of the weekend, down 29 percent, and $15 million of the total. March's other breakout hit, Wild Hogs, had its steepest drop yet, 37 percent, but nonetheless grossed $8.7 million. With $135.6 million in 31 days, it surpassed Bringing Down the House, which distributor Buena Vista had used as a model for its release.

Aside from Shooter, last weekend's slew of new releases plummeted in their second weekend. After being heralded as a franchise revival upon its No. 1 debut, TMNT devolved 62 percent to $9.2 million for $38.5 million in 10 days and, at its current trajectory, will likely be the least-attended of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.

Particularly alarming was The Last Mimzy, the New Line Cinema family picture that was depending on word-of-mouth for long-term playability. It slid 62 percent to $3.8 million for a mere $16 million in 10 days. The Hills Have Eyes 2 dove 57 percent to $4.2 million, when its predecessor was down 49 percent in its second weekend with twice the gross. Two dramas, Reign Over Me and Pride, evaporated as well.

Shooter had a typical drop of 42 percent to $8.4 million. The $60 million-plus action picture's 10-day total stands at a flabby $27.6 million.

The weekend saw a marketing experiment from Universal Pictures. The studio re-issued Peaceful Warrior, a drama that made a meager $1.1 million last summer under Lionsgate's tutelage. To build word-of-mouth, Universal offered $15 million worth of tickets through retailer Best Buy that people could redeem for free at 615 theaters on this weekend only, and another $2 million was spent on prints and advertising. According to Universal, an estimated 250,000 tickets were redeemed and the movie generated the equivalent of $2.1 million, 11 percent of which came from paying moviegoers. The unconventional release means the picture will not be listed on the box office charts, though it will continue for paying audiences through the week.

Also opening, The Lookout limped to $2 million at 955 sites, which ranks near the bottom among heist pictures.

RELATED ARTICLES
Review - Meet the Robinsons
4/3/06 - 'Ice Age' Hot, 'Basic Instinct 2' Not (Same Weekend, 2006)
4/4/05 - Moviegoers Living in 'Sin City' (Same Weekend, 2005)

RELATED CHARTS
Weekend Box Office Results
Sports Comedies
Computer Animation

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, April 1 and was revised on Monday, April 2 with actual grosses.



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