Late February is typically a slow time at the box office, and this weekend doesn't appear to be an exception, lacking a Shutter Island like last year or a Tyler Perry movie to give it a kick in the pants. Two movies enter nationwide release: Hall Pass hits more than 3,400 screens at 2,950 locations, while Drive Angry grabs over 2,400 screens at 2,290 locations.
In Hall Pass, Owen Wilson and Saturday Night Live's Jason Sudeikis get one week off from marriage from their wives (a "hall pass"), and the movie's advertising consists of them ogling girls but failing to get any action. Clearly, it's about how ridiculous these husbands are, and, while that may be amusing to some, it doesn't live up to the expectations of bawdy fun set by the title. There's plenty of bumbling in Hangover and Old School too, but they also had wish fulfillment to drive male passion. Since Hall Pass's premise may be deemed too unsavory to score widespread support (Wedding Crashers didn't have an issue with this, though the leads weren't married like here or in The Dilemma dud), it's like the marketers tried to soften the blow and make things more innocent through showing the men striking out.
While Hall Pass may seem tame, Drive Angry's comin' at ya with an onslaught of 3D action. The movie boasts 2,223 (or 97 percent) of its total locations showing it in the 3D illusion. Distributor Summit Entertainment said that the 3D exceptions would be a handful of drive-in theaters, which is fitting for the material. Out for revenge and to save a baby (it's either his daughter or granddaughter depending on which ad you see), Nicolas Cage gets a supernatural charge from Hell like he did in Ghost Rider, while Amber Heard is along for the ride and dominates the movie's poster. The signs point to this being one of Mr. Cage's lesser efforts (like Season of the Witch, Bangkok Dangerous, etc.), but Summit has mounted an aggressive marketing campaign, including springing for a pre-Super Bowl ad. Similar revenge-themed movies of late have yielded modest results (Faster, Machete, Crank: High Voltage, etc.), and, while Drive Angry's ads have pitched balls-to-the-wall action, its Hell angle hasn't been clearly integrated.
In Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" polling, Drive Angry has received greater interest than Hall Pass, though that doesn't necessarily suggest it will be bigger due to how different genres skew in polling. Drive Angry pulled in 14 percent for "opening weekend," which was less than My Bloody Valentine 3-D and Piranha 3D but higher than Season of the Witch and Death Race. Hall Pass logged 9.5 percent for "opening weekend," which pegged it close to The Dilemma.