What a difference an appealing movie can make. After weeks of soft box office, overall business perked up nearly ten percent over the same weekend last year, thanks to The Karate Kid. The remake of the 1980s smash debuted far beyond genre norms, and it more than doubled the opening of fellow '80s rehash, The A-Team, which was relatively sub-par.
The Karate Kid rallied $55.7 million on approximately 5,300 screens at 3,663 locations. That ranked as the second-highest grossing launch ever for a martial-arts-themed picture behind only Karate Kid star Jackie Chan's Rush Hour 2. According to distributor Sony Pictures' research, 53 percent of the audience was female, and 56 percent was under 25 years old. Parents and their children accounted for 45 percent of moviegoers, meaning that the picture appealed as more than just a family movie.
Since the original Karate Kid movies played in a different box office era, there is no apples-to-apples comparison, though the new Karate Kid more than doubled the first weekend attendance of Part II, which was the franchise's previous high. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, the 1984 original made the equivalent of over $215 million, while the sequel earned nearly $250 million. The first one was the fifth-biggest movie from 1984, while the sequel was the fourth-biggest from 1986. Though it changed a number of elements (namely going from karate to kung fu), the new Karate Kid essentially morphed the first two movies: there was the basic plot of the first one, combined with the exotic travelogue appeal of the second.
Recently, knocks against Hollywood's lack of originality have resonated more loudly than usual in light of the slow times at the box office. But this weekend demonstrated what's really going on: general audiences aren't that hung up on whether something's a retread or not; it's the rote retreads that turn them off. The Karate Kid was a movie that did not rest on the laurels of its famous brand. It went all out with a grand and relatable underdog story with clear marketing that took the time to set-up the story and characters. The A-Team, on the other hand, came off as a generically slick action picture with no story in its advertising, banking on the television show branding to distinguish it.
The A-Team bagged $25.7 million on around 5,200 screens at 3,535 locations, and, though sizable in other contexts, that amount was below average for a live-action television adaptation in terms of the implied attendance. The gross was comparable to Miami Vice, but attendance was significantly less, and most action-oriented TV-based movies have fared even better. The A-Team also floundered when compared to other absurd action movies like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, XXX, Con Air and Live Free or Die Hard, although it wasn't as disastrous as Stealth or the last "men-on-a-mission" movie, The Losers ($9.4 million). Distributor 20th Century Fox's exit polling bore out the movie's limited appeal, indicating that 59 percent of the audience was male, and 61 percent was over 25 years old.
Shrek Forever After fell to third after a three-week reign but, for the first time, delivered a higher-grossing weekend than predecessor Shrek the Third. The fourth Shrek made $15.8 million, down 38 percent, compared to the third Shrek's $15.3 million at the same point (though attendance was still at a franchise low). Shrek 4 also had the franchise's smallest fourth-weekend drop. In 24 days, it has grossed $210 million, but it will soon lose families' attention and 3D screens to Toy Story 3.
Second-weekend releases continued to largely inspire indifference. Get Him to the Greek had the best hold of the lot, off 43 percent to $9.9 million, though it had a bit steeper drop than comparable comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man, and its $36.4 million ten-day tally was slightly behind.
Killers decelerated 49 percent to $8 million, bringing its total to $30.3 million in ten days. Marmaduke took a fairly hefty 48 percent hit, grossing $6 million for just $22.3 million in ten days. Splice saw a typical horror slide, shedding 60 percent to $2.9 million for a mere $13.2 million in ten days.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Sex and the City 2 continued to show little traction, each tumbling over 50 percent in their third weekends. Prince of Persia rustled up $6.5 million, increasing its sum to $72.2 million in 17 days. Sex and the City 2 fell further behind its predecessor with $5.4 million for an $84.7 million total in 18 days.
Meanwhile, Iron Man 2 finally had a smaller dip than the first Iron Man, off 43 percent versus its predecessor's 45 percent in its sixth weekend. However, the sequel still lost ground in total gross, generating $4.5 million compared to the first movie's $7.5 million. Iron Man 2 will shortly cross the $300 million mark, but its cumulative advantage has dwindled to just over $10 million through the same point.