'Iron Man' Builds, 'Speed Racer' Burns
by Brandon Gray
May 14, 2008
With a sturdy second outing for Iron Man and two new major releases, it was an up weekend at the box office compared to last year when Spider-Man 3 plummeted with no significant openings to pick up the slack. Overall business was on the high end for the time of year, but the news wasn't sunny all around. Romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas edged out family action picture Speed Racer, but neither high profile affair set checkered flags aflutter.
Iron Man made $51.2 million, lifting its ten-day total to a smashing $177.8 million. While its 48 percent decline appears steep, it was par for the course after such a massive launch, and the movie had a better hold than most comic book adaptations, including past early May releases Spider-Man 3 and X2: X-Men United.
One of the riskiest ventures of the summer, Speed Racer, sputtered out of the gate, grossing $18.6 million on approximately 6,700 screens at 3,606 sites. Aimed at families, the reportedly $120 million adaptation of the 1960s cartoon was a tough sell from its inception. The property wasn't as culturally prominent as Scooby-Doo or The Flintstones and the less popular brands of similar vintage have typically translated into box office failure, such as Underdog, Thunderbirds and Josie and the Pussycats. On top of that, car racing as a subject has rarely set the box office afire, and Speed Racer's closest antecedent was Herbie: Fully Loaded, which fizzled a few summers ago. Aside from its rickety platform, Speed Racer's advertisements sold the picture's colorful and frenetic style, which in brief doses made it look like a video game, without providing story or context for potential audiences to latch onto.
While Speed Racer's stalling was the headline grabber, What Happens in Vegas wasn't exactly the next big romantic comedy hit. The picture starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher did all right with $20.2 million on around 4,500 screens at 3,215 locations, but it wasn't in the intended league of such similar movies as The Break-Up and Failure to Launch. Pitching a "Cameron Vs. Ashton" romp, the marketing campaign relied mostly on the presumed charm of the actors, but then contradicted that angle with a flimsy situational comedy premise where they just fight (and mostly outside of Vegas).
Below those three pictures, comedies populated slots three through seven on the weekend chart. Made of Honor had as innocuous a second weekend as its opening, receding 45 percent to $8.1 million for $26.8 million in ten days, and Baby Mama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay followed with standard issue drops. Though overall business was good, there was little else of note, aside from the utter trouncing of martial arts drama Redbelt, with an abysmal $1 million in its nationwide expansion.
• Review: 'Speed Racer'
• 5/14/07 - 'Spider-Man 3' Unravels But Rules (Same Weekend, 2007)
• 5/15/06 - 'Poseidon' Capsizes, Cruise Clings to Top Spot (Same Weekend, 2006)
• 5/16/05 - 'Monster-in-Law' Claws to the Top (Same Weekend, 2005)
• 5/17/04 - 'Troy' Tops But Not Immortal (Same Weekend, 2004)
• 5/12/03 - Mutants Muster More Than Murphy (Same Weekend, 2003)
• 5/13/02 - 'Spider-Man' Nets More Records (Same Weekend, 2002)
• Weekend Box Office Results
• All Time Second Weekends
• Cartoon Adaptations
• Car Racing Movies