Weekend Report: 'Thor' Holds on to Throne, 'Bridesmaids' a Strong Second
by Ray Subers
May 16, 2011
With an above-average hold, Thor easily repeated at the top of the box office over the weekend. Bridesmaids settled for second place, though its opening was impressive for an R-rated comedy with no proven talent in front of the camera. The weekend's other newcomer Priest didn't fare as well, opening behind many comparable titles. Overall box office was off around five percent from last year, when Iron Man 2 held on to first place.
Thor dipped 47 percent to $34.7 million to bring its ten-day total to $119.5 million. Its percentage drop was much smaller than the last two summer starters (Iron Man 2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and it also outperformed The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans. Its fall was also slighty better than the first Iron Man, albeit with a much lower total gross. If Thor continues to track like Tony Stark's first outing, it could close at around $200 million.
While estimates pegged Bridesmaids at $24.4 million, it jumped up 7.5 percent to $26.3 million when actuals reported on Monday. That's way ahead of comparable titles Baby Mama and I Love You, Man and it is producer Judd Apatow's biggest-grossing opening since Step Brothers in 2008. The movie registered initial attendance in line with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and it posted the top start for an R-rated comedy since Due Date last November. Bridesmaids also set a new record for a Saturday Night Live cast member's debut (Kristen Wiig) in a non-SNL starring role, topping Old School (Will Ferrell) in both revenue and attendance.
There's been a lot made of the supposed risk that Universal Pictures took when deciding to make Bridesmaids, though that was overblown. The movie had a modest reported budget of $32.5 million, was part of the perennially popular wedding genre and featured a cast that, while not marquee, was still recognizable. Also, while producer Judd Apatow hasn't had a huge hit lately, he has been involved in some of the biggest R-rated comedies of the last few years, including Knocked Up, Superbad, Step Brothers and Pineapple Express.
Once Universal knew they had a potential hit on their hands, they mostly played their cards right. After debuting at South by Southwest a few months ago, Bridesmaids has screened hundreds of times throughout the country, which produced good advanced word-of-mouth. The movie was also well-positioned on the release schedule, well-timed as counter-programming to the wave of comic book movies and big-budget sequels. Commercials for Bridesmaids played up the wedding aspects and the female cameraderie without pushing the raunchier nature of the movie too hard, so it should come as little surprise that Universal reported that 67 percent of the movie's audience was female and 63 percent was over the age of 30.
Priest suffered from a muddled marketing campaign that emphasized its cult graphic novel source material while failing to illuminate any sort of compelling story. Looking to piggyback on the slowly fading vampire craze, Priest's characters often talked about the undead creatures in the previews, though it was hard to tell what made these vampires interesting or unique. Distributor Sony Pictures reported that Priest's audience was 57 percent male and 57 percent over the age of 25. With Thor and Fast Five currently monopolizing young male audiences and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on the horizon, Priest only had a minute chance to break-out.
In its third weekend, Fast Five eased 37 percent to $20.4 million and ended up in third place ahead of Priest. On Friday, Fast Five passed Fast and Furious to become the highest-grossing entry in its series. With $169.7 million in the tank so far, Fast Five has a great shot at eclipsing $200 million, which would be a stunning achievement for the fifth entry in a decade-old franchise.
Rio rounded out the Top Five for the second weekend in a row, declining a light three percent to $8.3 million. On Saturday, it eclipsed Rango to become 2011's highest-grossing animated movie, and it has amassed a solid $125.2 million.
Probably due in part to Bridesmaids's stronger-than-expected start, last weekend's competing romantic comedies each took a big hit. Jumping the Broom fell 54 percent to $7.1 million for a $25.8 million total, while Something Borrowed dropped 51 percent to $6.9 million for a total of $25.5 million.
None of the major limited releases impressed. Will Ferrell comedy/drama Everything Must Go earned a disappointing $791,677 at 218 theaters, averaging a meager $3,632 per site. Hesher was even worse, scoring just $126,046 at 40 venues despite the presence of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson. Lionsgate's Go For It was the real loser of the weekend, though, as it made just $119,714 at 218 theaters for an astonishingly low per-theater average of $505.