Despite Sunday morning studio estimates reporting Date Night in first, Clash of the Titans prevailed when actual grosses were tallied on Monday, but less than $1.8 million separated the top three movies. Clash came in at $26.6 million, slightly less than its $26.9 million Sunday estimate, but Date Night had the biggest overestimation: its actual gross was $25.2 million versus the $27.1 million that its studio, 20th Century Fox, reported Sunday morning. How to Train Dragon was also overestimated, landing with $24.9 million compared to its $25.4 million estimate.
The weekend estimates reported on Sunday mornings can be off significantly because they are calculated by adding reality-based estimates for Friday and Saturday to a projection for Sunday. Because studios essentially make up that Sunday number (albeit usually in an educated way based on historical data), disparities between their estimates and the actual grosses can occur when real Sunday numbers come in later. Date Night had the edge on Friday with its $8.3 million opening day, but Clash of the Titans returned to the top spot on Saturday with $11 million and led again on Sunday with $7.3 million. As reported here on Sunday, Date had a more bullish Sunday projection than Clash, that is to say its projection was assuming the absolute rosiest of circumstances based on historical data.
Regardless of the overestimation, Date Night's opening on approximately 4,600 screens at 3,374 venues was above average compared to similar movies. It exceeded The Bounty Hunter's opening last month, and it nearly quadrupled the debut of Did You Hear About the Morgans?. Date Night had a relatable, cleanly-conveyed premise of a married couple looking to spice up their routine with a night on the town, only to be mistaken for another couple; action-comedy hijinks ensue. The casting of Steve Carell and Tina Fey (along with a bunch of familiar faces in small roles) seemed to help put the picture over the top, given their strong comedy branding. The movie's weekend attendance was the equivalent of a third to a half of the regular audience for the stars' television comedies, Carell's The Office and Fey's 30 Rock, which air back-to-back on Thursday nights. Distributor 20th Century Fox' exit polling indicated that 60 percent of the audience was over 25 years old, while 52 percent was female, playing to a lot of couples.
Clash of the Titans retreated by 57 percent, which was a steeper-than-average fall and worse than 300's 54 percent drop in its second weekend. Despite the 3D boost, which accounted for about 50 percent of its weekend business, Clash's $110.2 million ten-day haul trails 300's $129.2 million. It's correct to compare the two movies not only because of their thematic similarities, but because Clash owes its existence to the success of 300, and both had big Spring releases from Warner Bros. A clear, harrowing storyline like 300's has been forgotten with Clash, which has been all spectacle in its marketing, leading to a less enthusiastic audience response so far.
How to Train Your Dragon, on the other hand, had the best hold of the weekend among nationwide releases, easing 14 percent and lifting its total to $133.4 million in 17 days. Playing at 2,165 3D sites compared to Clash's 1,632, nearly 65 percent of its weekend gross was from 3D showings. At its current pace, Dragon could out-gross the $198.4 million total of Monsters Vs. Aliens, another DreamWorks Animation 3D event that also had a late March launch last year, despite having a significantly smaller debut: $43.7 million versus $59.3 million.
Why Did I Get Married Too? fell off a cliff in its second weekend, posting one of Tyler Perry's steepest drops. Down 62 percent, the ensemble comedy sequel bagged $11 million, lifting its total to $48.5 million in ten days. Its predecessor was off 43 percent at the same point, but the sequel is still on track to surpass that picture's $55.2 million final haul.
Aside from Clash of the Titans and Why Did I Get Married Too?, the rest of the nationwide holdovers generally seemed to enjoy the breathing room of having only one major new release to share screens with. The Last Song slowed 39 percent to $9.8 million, growing its total to $42.3 million in 12 days. The teen romance held better than the last Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Dear John, and much better than Hannah Montana The Movie, though it's made less through the same point.
Alice in Wonderland had its slightest decline yet, down 35 percent to $5.3 million, and its total is $319 million in 38 days, ranking as Walt Disney Pictures' fourth highest-grossing movie ever. Hot Tub Time Machine dipped 33 percent to $5.4 million for a $37 million tally in 17 days. The Bounty Hunter nabbed $4.2 million, slipping 31 percent for a $55.9 million total in 24 days. Diary of a Wimpy Kid's ceased its rapid descent, off 25 percent to $4 million for a $53.6 million tally in 24 days.
The weekend also had two fairly broad debuts that failed: Christian drama Letters to God was returned to sender, grossing $1.1 million at 897 sites, while The Black Waters of Echo's Pond were quite shallow, making $224,409 at 404 sites. Also in limited release, high-profile The Runaways re-expanded to 204 locations (not nationwide as its publicity professed), but only mustered $469,260. That brings its total to $2.5 million in 24 days, making it one of the least-attended music biographies on record.