Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Audiences Still Choose The Hangover

Up and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 round out the top spots,

by | June 14, 2009 | Comments

This weekend moviegoers could not get enough of Mike Tyson’s tiger as the raunchy Vegas-set comedy The Hangover spent a second weekend at number one, dropping a remarkably low amount, and is on course to become the top-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. Also holding up well was the toon titan Up which remained in second place with a small decline of its own as it attempts to become Pixar’s biggest blockbuster ever. Among new releases, Denzel Washington’s hostage thriller The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 landed in third place with a respectable bow while Eddie Murphy’s family comedy Imagine That was dead on arrival with one of the worst openings of the year.

Sliding only 26% from its surprisingly powerful debut, The Hangover was once again the top choice for ticket buyers selling an estimated $33.4M worth of stubs this weekend to lead all films in the marketplace. The Warner Bros. hit has now grossed a stunning $105.4M in just 10 days. Normally only big-budget action movies join the century club this fast, not no-star comedies costing under $30M. Moviegoers that took a wait-and-see approach last weekend were infected by the buzz and the post-bachelor party flick is now broadening its audience and benefiting from strong recommendations.


The second weekend drop was even lower than those enjoyed by other popular R-rated summer comedies like >Knocked Up (36%), Tropic Thunder (37%), and Superbad (45%). Instead, Hangover‘s decline was much like the 24% that both leggy 2005 hits Wedding Crashers and The 40-Year-Old Virgin enjoyed. Hangover had little competition from new releases this weekend for its core audience of young adults as one film was an action offering playing older and the other was a comedy that was completely ignored. The sleeper hit now looks to surge past the $200M mark and could even surpass Wedding Crashers to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever.

Holding steady in the runnerup spot with a small decline of its own was the animated blockbuster Up which took in an estimated $30.5M in its third frame. Down only 31%, the Disney/Pixar sensation boosted its 17-day cume to a robust $187.2M. Up has now joined Shrek 2 as the only animated films in box office history to gross more than $30M in each of their first three frames. Third weekend grosses for other big toon hits include $28.4M for Finding Nemo, $28.2M for Shrek, $28M for Shrek the Third, and $26.5M for The Incredibles.


Compared to Nemo, Pixar’s top performer ever, Up scored a larger third weekend gross and a smaller decline beating the fish pic’s 39% drop. Nemo took in $191.5M in its first 17 days during the same time of year on its way to $339.7M and Up now looks to be on a trajectory to break the $300M mark as well thanks to great word-of-mouth and strong repeat business.

Denzel Washington faced off with John Travolta in the action remake The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 which debuted in third place with an estimated $25M. The Tony Scott-directed pic averaged a solid $8,133 from 3,074 locations and ended up in the same range as many of Washington’s previous R-rated action films. In fact, the casting of Travolta seemed to add little value at the box office. Openings for Washington include $29M for Inside Man, $22.8M for Man on Fire, and $22.6M for Training Day. Pelham gave the Oscar winner his third best career opening after American Gangster ($43.6M) and Inside.


Fox’s franchise flick Night at the Museum dipped only 34% in its fourth adventure to an estimated $9.6M. Total to date stands at $143.4M. Following its poor showing on opening weekend, Will Ferrell’s competing action-comedy Land of the Lost fell 51% to an estimated $9.2M finishing in fifth. The $100M+ production has taken in just $35M in ten days for Universal and should stumble to a lackluster $55-60M final tally.

Eddie Murphy enjoyed a big win this weekend as he beat out the opening of his last dud Meet Dave. But just by an inch. The comedian’s latest attempt at PG-rated family comedy Imagine That was rejected by parents and kids opening in seventh place to a dismal $5.7M, according to estimates. Paramount released the $55M production in 3,008 theaters and was rewarded with a laughable $1,895 average. It was the third worst opening weekend average for a wide opener all year faring better than only Battle for Terra ($933 from 1,160 theaters) and Miss March ($1,383 from 1,742). In fact, the last movie to open in 3,000+ theaters and generate a lower average than Imagine That was actually Meet Dave last July with its dreadful $5.3M from 3,011 sites and $1,744 average. Big paychecks for family comedies may have dried up for Eddie.


Star Trek didn’t have the lowest decline in the top ten this time, but the sci-fi reboot still held up very well in its sixth round grossing an estimated $5.6M. Off only 33%, the Paramount smash lifted its total to $232M. Rival actioner Terminator Salvation followed with an estimated $4.7M, down 43%, for a $113.8M total for Warner Bros.

Sony’s Angels & Demons ranked eighth falling 36% to an estimated $4.2M boosting the domestic total to $123.3M. Rounding out the top ten was the horror flick Drag Me to Hell which scared up an estimated $3.9M, down 45%, giving Universal $35.1M to date.


Audiences have been cutting their spending on sequels this summer. Battle of the Smithsonian is running 23% behind the pace of the first Night at the Museum at the same point in its run, Terminator Salvation is 17% behind T3, and Angels & Demons is 38% behind The Da Vinci Code. Add in higher ticket prices and the gaps widen when comparing admissions.

Francis Ford Coppola’s new self-distributed pic Tetro debuted impressively in platform release grossing an estimated $31,339 from solo houses in New York and Los Angeles for a solid $15,670 average. Since its Thursday launch, the Buenos Aires-set drama has collected $38,169. Expanding successfully in limited play was the Focus comedy Away We Go which widened from four to 45 locations taking in an estimated $554,000 for an encouraging $12,311 average. Many indie films collapse after expanding from New York and Los Angeles but this quirky pregnancy pic showed strength in over a dozen markets making it a true independent hit attracting the non-popcorn crowd.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $131.7M which was down 25% from last year when The Incredible Hulk opened in the top spot with $55.4M; and off 4% from 2007 when Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer debuted at number one with $58.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya