Weekend Report: 'Shrek' Reigns Over Meager Parade Again
by Brandon Gray
Shrek Forever After
June 7, 2010
With four new nationwide releases that lacked broad appeal, the weak box office continued, allowing Shrek Forever After to spend a third weekend in the lead. Overall business hit a 13-year low for the first weekend of June, and it was down 22 percent from the same timeframe last year when The Hangover debuted.
Though Shrek Forever After has held court atop the weekend box office longer than any previous Shrek, its business still trailed its predecessors by a wide margin, which is what counts because ranking first is more dependent on what else is playing at the moment than a movie's staying power. The presumably final ogre sequel nabbed $25.5 million, increasing its sum to $183.2 million in 17 days.
Shrek Forever After was down 41 percent, which was a better hold than the 47 percent drops of Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third, but it had a lower-grossing third weekend than any previous Shrek. Shrek the Third had made $255.9 million through its third weekend, and, even though Shrek 4's comparable gross-to-date is higher than the first Shrek, Shrek 4's estimated attendance lags nearly 30 percent behind Shrek 1. Shrek 4's 3D share rose to 67 percent this weekend, and 3D now represents 62 percent of the total.
While it wasn't the next early June comedy sensation like Hangover or Knocked Up, Get Him to the Greek rocked to $17.6 million on approximately 3,200 screens at 2,697 venues, ranking as the third-biggest opening on record for a music comedy, behind Be Cool and School of Rock. Music comedies tend to fail at the box office (Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, The Rocker, etc.), but Get Him to the Greek focused more on the comedic trip than the music in its marketing. That led to a debut closer to its predecessor Forgetting Sarah Marshall ($17.7 million) as well as I Love You, Man ($17.8 million) and Role Models ($19.2 million). Distributor Universal Pictures' exit polling indicated that 53 percent of the audience was male and 55 percent was under 30 years old.
The next best new release, Killers, wasn't a disaster with $15.8 million on close to 3,300 screens at 2,859 venues, but it was less than the last two comparable movies The Bounty Hunter ($20.7 million) and Date Night ($25.2 million). While Killers was a commercial step backwards for lead actors Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher, it did speak to their bankability, considering that they were pretty much the only things going for the movie. Other than the use of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," Killers' advertising campaign was a nondescript blur and only conveyed that Kutcher's character turns out to be some sort of spy or assassin, followed by unexplained action. Killers was further hampered by its title: there was a dissonance between what the generic name "Killers" means and the marriage action-comedy presented in which only Kutcher might be a killer. Distributor Lionsgate's research showed that 62 percent of the audience was female, and that there was an even split over and under 25 years old.
Marmaduke lapped up $11.6 million on around 3,700 screens at 3,213 venues in the weekend's relatively wimpiest opening. Talking-animal family comedies usually have more pull than this, and Marmaduke's start charted near the bottom of the sub-genre, coming in lower than past disappointment Underdogin terms of attendance. The not-so-Great Dane was further dwarfed by Garfield: The Movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and many more.
In the comic strip on which it's based, the Marmaduke character doesn't talk, so the movie was an attempt to shoehorn the typical talking-animal storyline onto an existing property. The modest marketing took the brand for granted and vaguely went through the genre motions. Chipmunks at least had modern music to engage teens and adults, while Garfield had more bite to his quips, and both were bigger names to begin with. So rote was Marmaduke's campaign that its main poster featured the dog and his cat friend wearing sunglasses, just like the posters for the first Garfield and Chipmunks, as well as a random dance number straight out of Chihuahua. Distributor 20th Century Fox reported that 60 percent of the audience was female and 54 percent was under 18 years old.
The other new release, Splice, spooked few with $7.4 million on nearly 2,600 screens at 2,450 venues, putting it closer to Pandorum than Daybreakers among recent creepy horror movies. Despite being the first theatrical creature feature in some time, Splice's start rated on the low end of the sub-genre with an estimated attendance in the same range as Bats and The Cave. The picture may have recalled movies like Species and Mimic, but enough time had passed for that not to be an issue. The advertising, though, did lay on thick the cliche "science-run-amok" angle. Without a larger scope, it can be tough for such movies to find significant theatrical audiences. In distributor Warner Bros.' exit polling, the turn-out was 58 percent male and 67 percent under 35 years old.
Sex and the City 2 had a smaller second weekend drop than the first Sex and the City, but it was still down a steep 60 percent. The first Sex fell 63 percent, and Sex 2 likely only held better because it burnt off opening weekend demand with a Thursday launch. Sex 2 grossed $12.3 million, increasing its sum to $73.1 million in 11 days. By comparison, the first Sex crossed the $100 million mark in its 11th day.
Meanwhile, Iron Man 2 saw its lead over the first Iron Man diminish further. The sequel tumbled 52 percent to $7.9 million, growing its total to $291.4 million in 31 days. The first Iron Man was off 34 percent to $13.5 million and had tallied $276.2 million at the same point.