Kudos to 20th Century Fox for the strong $50 million opening for Prometheus, which given the mysterious nature of the source material and an ‘R’ rating was no easy task. Box office prognosticators were all over the map with the numbers. Some were claiming the possibilities of the film crossing $66 million for the weekend and possibly ending up at number one. But reality set in when the animated sequel Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted had a predictable Saturday surge fueled by out of school kids and families and the tally ended up pretty much where everyone expected with Madagascar at the top of the charts. The third film in the DreamWorks animated franchise brought in $60 million for the weekend, on par with the previous releases.
Prometheus was always a question mark of marketing, banking on Ridley Scott’s name, a tenuous connection to the Alien franchise, and playing it’s cards obsessively close to the chest. A $50 million opening is nothing to scoff at, considering the number of high priced summer films that have tanked pulling in half that number.
The key with Prometheus, as usual, will be the legs. Word of mouth is going to be interesting. The American critical response has been favorable, but there are a lot of people walking out of the theater scratching their heads. If the film holds with typical week to week drops you’re looking at somewhere between $140 – 150 million from North America. Not bad, but not exactly a home run either. In truth, Prometheus is what the modern blockbuster looks like. A film that is happy to scratch out $150 million in the U.S. and rely on the worldwide market for the lion’s share. So few films are making any real money in North America (Avengers not withstanding). For an R rated dense, hard science fiction story to make $50 million on it’s opening weekend should be something to celebrate. I’m not saying people need to be doing cartwheels, but trust me when i say Prometheus could have easily been another unmitigated disaster on par with Battleship and John Carter. Kudos to 20th Century Fox marketing. The rest of the Top 10 is a fairly predicable story…
Speaking of ‘a fairly predicable story’, last week’s number one Snow White and the Huntsman pulled in $23 million in its second weekend dropping 60% week to week. Once again, right out of the average summer film playbook – $125 – $150 million for North America while Universal accountants wait to see if the global market can make it turn a profit. The same holds true for Men in Black III which pulled in $14 million in its third weekend.
Next week gives us two films with aging cinematic icons. Adam Sandler brings his sophomoric comedy styling back to the big screen with That’s My Boy while Tom Cruise leads an ensemble cast singing their way through the 1980’s hair metal catalog with Rock of Ages. I think you could make a strong argument that Madagascar could end up in the top spot, but never count Adam Sandler out. Expect Rock of Ages to open soft and die quick.
Here’s your top films for North America…
1. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Weekend Estimate: $56 million
Weekend Estimate: $50 million
3. Snow White and the Huntsman
Weekend Estimate: $23 million; $98 million total
4. Men in Black III
Weekend Estimate: $13 million; $135 million total
5. The Avengers
Weekend Estimate: $11 million; $573 million total