Midnight Update:Wrath of the Titans earned an estimated $1 million from midnight showings at 1,490 locations. In comparison, Clash of the Titans grossed over $1.5 million from midnight shows after scoring $2.65 million at Thursday night screenings. That movie debuted to $61.2 million, which is a figure that Wrath has very little chance of matching.
Forecast: Two very different fantasy movies go head-to-head this weekend, though it looks inevitable that The Hunger Games will once again rule the box office. Wrath of the Titans reaches 3,545 theaters (no 3D count available, but it does have 293 IMAX locations) while Mirror Mirror opens at a robust 3,603 venues.
Wrath of the Titans is the sequel to 2010's Clash of the Titans remake, which opened to $61.2 million on its way to a $163.2 million total. That movie hit theaters when star Sam Worthington and the 3D illusion were riding high coming off of Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. It also had a showstopper in its marketing (who doesn't remember hearing "Release the Kraken!" over and over again in Spring 2010?), and it was even able to cash in a bit on nostalgia for the original Clash.
Unfortunately, Clash of the Titans was a complete dud. The terrible 3D effects almost single-handedly turned moviegoer sentiment away from 3D, and the wooden acting and mediocre action translated in to an awful 5.8 rating on IMDb (where users are typically very lenient on fantasy fare). Also working against Wrath is the fact that Sam Worthington's stock has gone down substantially in the past two years: The Debt did fine with $31.2 million, but Man on a Ledge tanked in January with $18.6 million.
Reviews are pretty brutal so far for Wrath, though whether it's good or not doesn't really impact opening weekend—people decide whether or not to go to a sequel based on their feelings for the original, and in this case those feelings are not generally positive. There's always a chance to wash that sour taste away with some really great marketing, but by focusing on otherworldly monsters and mostly ignoring the story, Wrath essentially looks like more of the same (except substituting a fire monster for the Kraken). Regardless, Wrath of the Titans has a solid brand and high awareness, and should at least open to $30 million.
Anything the movie makes at the domestic box office is gravy, though, since it was clearly designed to play much better overseas. Clash of the Titans earned $330 million in 2010, and with debuts in all major markets (excluding Japan) Wrath should be poised for a huge foreign opening this weekend.
By opening on March 30, Mirror Mirror reaches theaters just over two months ahead of Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1). Even though there was a bit of a release date battle between the two movies, they do appear to take completely different approaches to the Snow White story—Mirror Mirror is a whimsical tale geared towards families with younger children, while Huntsman is more in the epic fantasy mold of Lord of the Rings.
In the online community, at least, Mirror Mirror has had a bad reputation since the cheesy first trailer included off-putting anachronisms like "Say hello to my little friend." Also, after receiving some initially positive marks the movie sat at a middling 53 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday evening. The performance of a family movie like this really has little to do with the opinion of bloggers and critics, though, and instead has everything to do with whether children and their parents think it is worth seeing. Distributor Relativity Media, who has released two modest hits in the past five months (Immortals and Act of Valor), seems to think the movie is connecting with these prospective audiences, and they are forecasting between $22 and $24 million this weekend.
In limited release, The Weinstein Company is opening controversial documentary Bully on five screens in New York and Los Angeles. Because the movie exceeds the maximum number of F-words, the Motion Picture Association of America slapped it with an "R" rating; The Weinstein Company did everything it could to maximize publicity from this before ultimately opting to release the movie without a rating. It will be interesting to see if this can turn in to one of the rare cases where controversy, whether manufactured or real, can translate in to box office grosses.
After earning over $1.8 million in very limited release, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is leaping in to 483 locations this weekend and should wind up with over $1 million for a Top 10 finish. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is also doubling its theater count to 513, and could also earn around $1 million.
Weekend Forecast (March 30-April 1) 1. The Hunger Games - $71.7 million (-53%) 2. Wrath of the Titans - $35.5 million 3. Mirror Mirror - $22.3 million 4. 21 Jump Street - $12.9 million (-37%) 5. The Lorax - $5.9 million (-55%)
Bar for Success Based on the poor reactions to Clash of the Titans, along with the fact that it's going to make boatloads overseas, Wrath of the Titans should get a pass if it opens to over $40 million (much less than Clash's $61.2 million). Mirror Mirror is in fine shape if it opens to over $20 million.