Weekend Preview: 'Kick-Ass,' 'Death at a Funeral'

by Brandon Gray

April 15, 2010

This weekend, two morbidly-themed comedies enter the fray and are poised for lively debuts. Kick-Ass busts onto approximately 4,400 screens at 3,065 theaters, while Death at a Funeral (2010) pops onto over 3,000 screens at 2,459 theaters.

Kick-Ass, which gets a jump on the weekend with 10 p.m. Thursday previews at around 1,500 locations, has the hype machine in full swing behind it. The movie's premise is kind of a like a side story from The Dark Knight or The Incredibles elevated to an R-rated main story: bumbling ordinary people trying to be superheroes. Adapted from the comic-book series of the same name, Kick-Ass has purportedly piqued the interest of fan boys by courting them at their conventions, and the high-octane marketing has been tuned to hit the notes they like, such as wish-fulfillment, ultra-violence, self-referential jokes and an unlikely character taking people out like a ninja (a young girl called "Hit Girl"). Should Kick-Ass succeed, it would be the first superhero comedy on record to do so. The sub-genre is riddled with box office failures like Mystery Men, Superhero Movie and Blankman.

The build-up to Kick-Ass has been akin to Zombieland last year. Despite being part of the commercially dead horror comedy sub-genre, Zombieland defied its roots and debuted to $24.7 million, winding up with $75.6 million by the end of its run. In Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" polling, Kick-Ass has a comparable pattern to Zombieland, only with a greater opening weekend percentage (over 35 percent versus 28.7 percent). Kick-Ass also has a stylistic similarity to the Kill Bill movies, and Kill Bill Vol. 2 actually opened on the same date, April 16, back in 2004. Its first weekend was $25.1 million or the equivalent of around $31 million adjusted for ticket price inflation.

Pushed as a broad ensemble comedy featuring Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, James Marsden and many more, Death at a Funeral comes just three years after its predecessor, Death at a Funeral (2007), found a decent-sized audience in limited release, grossing $8.6 million. While the original is highly-regarded, the sampling wasn't large enough to hinder a new version, particularly one that distances itself with a change in setting and ethnicity. Comedies about families coming together over major events (like weddings, holidays, funerals, etc.) have proven to be relatable in the past, including successes like This Christmas and Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, and Death's advertising has been hitting the marks in terms of set-up and laughs. Death has also scored relatively highly in Box Office Mojo's polling, so it would not be shocking if it made more than Kick-Ass this weekend.

Among holdovers, How to Train Your Dragon is well positioned to hold onto third place, based on its minimal drops thus far and its weekday performance. Date Night and last weekend's top grosser Clash of the Titans will round out the Top Five.

Also opening this weekend, The Perfect Game and The Joneses receive larger-than-normal limited releases. Baseball family movie Perfect Game goes to bat at 417 sites, while The Joneses, a satire featuring Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Gary Cole and Amber Heard, moves in at 193 sites.

Last Weekend
'Titans' Fall But Still Tall

This Timeframe in Past Years:
2009 - Moviegoers Fixate on 'Obsessed'

2008 - 'Baby Mama,' 'Harold & Kumar' Yuk It Up
2007 - 'Disturbia' Thrills More Than 'Fracture,' 'Vacancy'
2006 - Solid 'Silent Hill,' So-so 'Sentinel,' Shattered 'American Dreamz'
2005 - 'Interpreter' Intrigues Nation

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WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'The Meg' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'The Meg' #1
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DAILY: Wednesday, 8/8 (35 tracked)
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DAILY: Tuesday, 8/7 (33 tracked)
DAILY: Monday, 8/6 (33 tracked)