Weekend Report: 'Battleship' Drowns Under Weight of 'Avengers'
by Ray Subers
May 20, 2012
Led by the awful debut of big-budget board game adaptation Battleship, three new nationwide releases tried and failed to unseat The Avengers this weekend. In fact, the blockbuster superhero team-up earned about as much in its third weekend as all three new releases combined, which is the latest sign that the movie is a true box office phenomenon. Without any real help from the openers, though, the Top 12 was down 31 percent from the same frame last year when Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened to $90.15 million.
The Avengers fell 46 percent to an $55.6 million, which is the second-best third weekend on record behind Avatar ($68.5 million). The movie passed $450 million on Sunday, which was only its 17th day in theaters. That's a new record for reaching that mark ahead of The Dark Knight's 27 days. So far, The Avengers has earned an incredible $457.7 million, and it currently ranks sixth on the all-time domestic chart. In the next day or two, it will pass Star Wars to move in to the Top Five, and by the end of May the movie could pass The Dark Knight to take third place all-time.
Battleship opened in second place with a meager $25.5 million. Among recent Hasbro adaptations, that's a fraction of the three-day start for the first Transformers ($84.9 million) and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra ($54.7 million). It's also worse than middling alien invasion movies like Cowboys & Aliens ($36.4 million) and Battle: Los Angeles ($35.6 million), and is remarkably lower than star Taylor Kitsch's March sci-fi debacle John Carter ($30.2 million). The audience was 57 percent male and 55 percent under the age of 30, and they awarded the movie a fine "B" CinemaScore.
Adapting a naval strategy board game in to an alien invasion movie always seemed like a questionable choice to movie bloggers and the like, and previews only served to exacerbate that sentiment by making Battleship look like a cynical attempt to get in on some of that Transformers money. In this case, though, the real nail in the coffin was The Avengers—audiences had and continued to turn out in droves to see the legendary superhero team prevent aliens from leveling Manhattan, and Battleship's aliens-at-sea premise really had no chance of competing.
The Dictator took third with $17.4 million from 3,008 locations, which brought the comedy's five-day total to $24.5 million. That's less than Borat ($26.5 million) or Bruno ($30.6 million) made over their first three days, but it's still not an altogether awful start considering the protagonist is a North African dictator who hates women, gays, minorities, and America. Exit polling indicated that the audience skewed male (65 percent) and younger (56 percent under 25), and they gave the movie an awful "C" CinemaScore (not entirely surprising for a movie that often crosses the line in to satire, which mainstream audiences tend to reject).
While Battleship was the more obvious bomb thanks to its enormous budget, What to Expect When You're Expecting didn't exactly have a successful delivery either. The ensemble pregnancy comedy grossed a paltry $10.55 million this weekend, which is off from recent pregnancy comedies Baby Mama ($17.4 million) and star Jennifer Lopez's The Back-Up Plan ($12.2 million) and was also down from underperforming ensemble rom-com New Year's Eve ($13 million). The movie was the only thing targeted specifically at women in May, and therefore really ought to have had a more successful start, but Lionsgate muddled the marketing with the "Dudes Group" ads. The ploy to get men out to see a pregnancy comedy doesn't seem to have paid off—the audience wound up being 70 percent female. That audience was also on the older side (64 percent over the age of 25), and they gave the movie a low "B-" CinemaScore.
Dark Shadows plummeted 58 percent to $12.6 million in its second weekend. That brought the movie's 10-day total to $50.7 million, and Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's vampire soap opera revival has zero chance of ending up north of $100 million.
Fox Searchlight looks to have a legitimate sleeper hit on its hands with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The geriatric comedy doubled its theater count to 354 and was up 21 percent to $3.23 million. With $8.23 million in the bank already, Marigold Hotel is now set for a nationwide expansion over Memorial Day weekend.