As the second contender to be swatted away like a fly, Battleship stood no chance against the mighty Avengers, which is now the sixth highest grossing film of all time, and will beat Stars Wars by Monday evening. The next big hurdle for the film’s domestic gross is $533 (aka The Dark Knight‘s take), which it may be able to clear by the end of the month. Really, the only question left is if it has enough steam to do over $600 domestic.
|1|| The Avengers
|4||Dark Shadows||$12,770,000 (-57.0%)||$3,401||$50,908,000|
|5||What to Expect When You’re Expecting||$10,500,000||$3,476||$10,500,000|
|6||The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||$3,250,000 (+21.6%)||$18,258||$8,257,000|
|7||The Hunger Games||$3,000,000 (-33.4%)||$1,453||$391,631,000|
|8||Think Like a Man||$2,700,000 (-53.6%)||$1,568||$85,888,000|
|9||The Lucky One||$1,765,000 (-57.0%)||$880||$56,921,000|
|10||The Pirates! Band of Misfits||$1,450,000 (-53.9%)||$788||$25,362,000|
There are two ways to look at this weekend and this summer so far. One is that The Avengers is so powerful that it’s keeping other films from doing well that might have gotten bigger openings were they not facing a juggernaut. The other is that so far there’s only one movie that really passed the sniff test from audiences.
With Men in Black 3 and Snow White and the Huntsman looking weaker than previously thought, we could see a much less impressive summer than normal, where audiences mostly go to pictures that they trust and films that might have stood a chance with a more curious audience are going to die. I think this is partly because ticket prices are getting to the point that families are being more discerning when they can wait three months for home video for that much cheaper.
And what we must do is re-think (or understand) that the gold standards for success of ten years ago have evaporated. Hitting $200 Million is no longer a guarantee for a success, and even doing $100 can mean that a film bombed. Yes, those are big numbers, but when the reported budget of The Dictator is $65 Million – even if that film somehow gets to $100 Million – it’s no guarantee of profit. Which is partly why international has become so much a part of the conversation. Budgets have gotten stupid, and the system is working like a high stakes poker player on a coke binge. There’s few safe bets for films that aren’t franchises.
And Universal, god bless them, bet dumb on Battleship. The international opening should help some, but if they’re not making much overseas any more then it’s going to lose them quite a bit of money. The film opened here to $25 Million, which is $8 Million less than Think Like a Man did. The point of mentioning that is it means that Battleship is unlikely to get to $100 Million domestic. And even if the film gets to $300 Million internationally, Universal is going to lose money. If they can get near a $400 Worldwide cume, they’re not going to lose much, and DVD/TV/VOD should get them in the black, but it’s one of those films that never got over the regular audience’s dumb hurdle. Transformers might be based on a toy, but the idea of seeing live action (well, CGI) robots transform on screen has appeal. Battleship offers nothing cinematically interesting from the title or concept. Throw in a cast of TV actors and weird name brands (ooh, Brooklyn Decker! Rihanna!), and a film that was reportedly studio noted to blandness, and you get a $25 Million dollar opening for a movie that cost over $200 Million.
This follows Dark Shadows, which also is curiously inert at the box office. Blame a title that means nothing, and likely a sense of deja-vu. With Men in Black 3 reportedly costing in the $300 Million range, we may see another weekend where the main contender is a disappointment. And this may also explain The Avengers numbers. People get what they want out of that movie. Why bother with anything else?
What to Expect When You’re Expecting may have a name cast, but – as I said on Thursday – dudes have no interest in going to a movie about women being pregnant while on a date. Romantic comedies need a premise that suggests love, but not the consequences of it, and this opening is likely the best result for the film (though it is a misfire).
It looks like The Hunger Games will limp to a $400 Million dollar grand total, which is worth noting, though it may not get there until June. And Fox Searchlight deserves praise for their work on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Having a small film get to $15-$20 Million without a huge ad campaign is a miracle these days.
It’s possible some of these movies could flatline next weekend for the holiday. That would be the best case scenario for the new films. But The Avengers isn’t going anywhere.
Reality Check: I went higher on Battleship and Expecting, thought Avengers might surprise a little more this weekend (at this point it’s going to start dropping around 50% for the rest of its run), but was right on with Dictator and Dark Shadows. With new stuff there’s always hope that the last minute ad buys will get butts in seats. That turned out not to be the case here.