This weekend, eleven-year-old Jaden Smith defeated four grown men in a battle of the 1980s remakes as The Karate Kid soared above expectations easily outgunning The A-Team at the North American box office. Kid powered its way to an estimated $56M over the weekend from 3,663 theaters for a sensational $15,288 average.
Produced for only $40M, the PG-rated film presented a modern take on the 1984 Ralph Macchio-Pat Morita favorite and starred Jackie Chan as the mentor. The setting was shifted to Beijing and despite the title, the film centered on kung fu instead of karate. Sony launched the marketing campaign with a highly effective trailer that used the son of Will to generate excitement with kids while also using nostalgia to pump up parents and other adults. Add in an end-credit song from teen sensation Justin Bieber (with a rap by Jaden) and a much-talked-about promotion at last weekend’s MTV Movie Awards and young people were hyped up and ready to buy tickets.
Despite a lengthy 140-minute running time, Karate pleased audiences with an encouraging A CinemaScore grade and even scored an exceptionally high 94% in the top two boxes from exit polls. Females made up 53% of the crowd while 56% was under 25. It was the ninth biggest June opening of all-time and sixth best when only counting live-action films. Will Smith routinely opens summer blockbusters in the $50M range and contributes to his own soundtracks and now has a son following in his footsteps. Overseas potential is formidable especially across Asia.
Opening far back in second place was The A-Team with an estimated $26M coming in below expectations. The Fox release launched very wide in 3,535 locations and averaged $7,355 per theater. A remake of the 1980s action television series, the PG-13 film starring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper witnessed a slight 4% dip on Saturday and may not have the positive buzz needed for a long summer run. Reviews were mixed. In the battle of the 80s flicks, The A-Team and The Karate Kid were expected to have been much closer in ticket sales this weekend.
After a three-week reign at number one, Shrek Forever After continued to show off the strong legs seen by most 3D films these days. The ogre flick declined by only 38% which was impressive given how much Karate Kid was taking away business from family audiences. Forever broke the $200M mark and boosted its cume to $210.1M.
Universal’s Get Him to the Greek enjoyed the smallest decline among last weekend’s four new releases dipping 43% to an estimated $10.1M in fourth place. The raunchy rock star comedy has collected $36.5M in ten days and could be headed for a finish in the neighborhood of $65M. Fellow sophomore Killers fell by 48% to an estimated $8.2M giving Lionsgate $30.7M. Look for a $50M final.
Filling up the next four spots were a video game, comic strip, television show, and comic book all turned into feature films. Tumbling 53% to an estimated $6.6M was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which has collected just $72.3M in 17 days for Disney. Fox’s Marmaduke fell 48% in its second round to an estimated $6M putting the ten-day sum at $22.3M. Falling 55% to an estimated $5.5M in its third lap was Sex and the City 2 which has taken in a disappointing $84.7M to date.
Iron Man 2 came within a hair of joining the triple-century club with its weekend estimate of $4.6M. Off 43%, the Paramount release jumped up to $299.3M putting it at number 34 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters surpassing the $296.6M of last November’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon. The horror pic Splice rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.9M, down 61%, for a weak ten-day total of $13.1M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $141.6M which was up 10% from last year when The Hangover remained in the top spot with $32.8M; but down 19% from 2008 when The Incredible Hulk debuted at number one with $55.4M.