Box Office Guru Wrapup: Wimpy Kid Beats Sucker Punch for #1 Spot

by | March 27, 2011 | Comments

A group of nerdy middle school boys defeated a commando team of machine gun-toting women at the North American box office as the kid comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules opened at number one while the effects-heavy action fantasy Sucker Punch debuted in second place. Adult-skewing thrillers Limitless and The Lincoln Lawyer both displayed remarkable staying power in the top five as the lackluster first quarter of 2011 ended.

Improving on its predecessor, the kidpic sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules seized the top spot with an impressive opening of $24.4M, according to estimates. Fox enjoyed an impressive $7,704 average from 3,167 locations as the PG-rated comedy beat out the debut of the first Wimpy Kid by 10%. That film bowed to $22.1M on its way to a $64M domestic run.

With a reported cost of only $20M, Rodrick Rules is well on its way to becoming another profitable film adaptation from the popular book series. Audiences are liking what they see as the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A-. Competition for school children was low so the studio entered the marketplace with very few alternatives stealing away its target crowd. Plus good will from the well-reviewed first Wimpy pic carried over to the sequel which did not fare as well with critics. Given the low cost, continued interest from fans, and existing books to still adapt, the franchise could easily continue.

The stylish action vehicle Sucker Punch, which led the box office on opening day Friday, settled for second place over the weekend with an estimated $19M. The PG-13 tale about a band of young women that must escape the mental asylum they are locked in averaged $6,269 from 3,033 theaters. Director Zack Snyder, whose effects-heavy action pics 300 and Watchmen both opened at number one with their March debuts, took a beating from critics this time with Punch. The girlpower film was expected to be tops this weekend but with a 17% Saturday slump from the $8.1M opening Friday, it soon became apparent that even reaching $20M in three days would be difficult. Action films led by women have struggled at the box office with the exception of many Angelina Jolie offerings.

Sucker Punch is the latest in a string of stylish action films aimed at teens and young adults that underperformed on opening weekend following I Am Number Four, Red Riding Hood, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Kick-Ass. None broke $20M on opening weekend. With a reported production cost of at least $75M and a troubling B- CinemaScore, Sucker Punch will need strength from overseas and home video to break even. Snyder is still working with Warner Bros. and is directing its Superman reboot film scheduled to hit theaters in December 2012.

With the final March weekend now concluded, Hollywood studios will be eager to put the first quarter behind them. Only four films opened north of $30M during this time period compared to eight last year.

Last weekend’s two new adult thrillers enjoyed amazingly low declines and followed in the next two spots. Bradley Cooper’s miracle drug flick Limitless slipped only 20% in its sophomore session thanks to terrific word-of-mouth with mature audiences and grossed an estimated $15.2M which was about what the industry expected from its opening frame. Relativity Media has taken in a solid $41.3M in ten days and should be headed for $75-85M or even more if these strong legs continue. Lionsgate’s legal drama The Lincoln Lawyer dipped by an even smaller amount, 17%, and grossed an estimated $11M for a $29M ten-day cume. The Matthew McConaughey pic may be able to end up in the neighborhood of $60M.

Johnny Depp scored his sixth $100M+ grosser of the past eight years with the animated comedy Rango which dropped 35% to an estimated $9.8M. With $106.4M in 24 days, the Paramount release has delivered both the biggest opening and largest overall gross of any 2011 release. The lizard toon could be headed for the vicinity of $130M.

Dropping 48% to an estimated $7.6M was Sony’s alien invasion thriller Battle: Los Angeles which upped its cume to $72.6M. Close behind was another extra terrestrial flick, the comedy Paul with an estimated $7.5M. The Universal pic dropped a moderate 43% and has taken in $24.6M in ten days.

Red Riding Hood ranked eighth with an estimated $4.3M, off 40%, for a $32.5M cume in 17 days. Matt Damon’s fate-based drama The Adjustment Bureau enjoyed a good hold sliding just 27% to an estimated $4.2M for a $54.9M sum to date.

Two films claimed tenth place, not wanting to be excluded from all the press given to the top ten, and had distributor estimates that were a mere $1,000 apart with $2.2M a piece. The 3D animated flop Mars Needs Moms tumbled 59% thanks to another kidpic in the marketplace while the teen drama Beastly slipped only 32%. Totals stand at $19.2M for Disney and $25.3M for CBS Films.

Joining Rango in the century club this weekend was Adam Sandler whose latest comedy Just Go With It fell 33% to an estimated $1.5M upping its total to $100.2M. It was the bankable funnyman’s 12th starring vehicle to surpass $100M domestically over the last 13 years proving again that audiences still come out for his brand of humor despite what critics have to say.

In platform release, The Weinstein Co. premiered its Palestinian drama Miral in two theaters each in New York and Los Angeles and collected an estimated $65,000 for a $16,250 average. The Julian Schnabel-directed pic expands to more cities on Friday. The French film Potiche starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu debuted in seven locations and bowed to an estimated $85,000 for a $12,143 average.

Expanding indie titles did well too. The period drama Jane Eyre grossed an estimated $983,000 from 90 sites in its third frame for a solid $10,922 average for Focus. Fox Searchlight’s Paul Giamatti comedy Win Win averaged a sturdy $20,478 from 23 locations with its estimated $471,000 take in its second session. Totals are $1.9M and $679,000, respectively.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $105.3M which was down 7% from last year when How to Train Your Dragon opened in the top spot with $43.7M; and off 23% from 2009 when Monsters vs. Aliens debuted at number one with $59.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!

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