SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Monsters’ ball

Posted by · 2:39 pm · March 29th, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens“Monsters vs. Aliens” came storming out of the gate with a $58.2 million opening this weekend. That comes from an ultra-wide 4,104 theaters, the fourth-widest release ever for a non-sequel, and that’s enough to top the debuts of “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and every other DreamWorks animated non-sequel aside from “Kung Fu Panda.” It also handily beats the $45 million debut that “Horton Hears a Who!” managed during this same time period last year.

Paramount marketed the life out of this thing, and 3D in general, and it appears to have paid off. With a budget reportedly topping $150 million and at least another half of that spent on promotions, it will be a welcome sigh of relief for the studio brass to see that it caught on with families this week.

Last week I predicted low on “The Haunting in Connecticut” because I thought audiences might be tired of horror product. After all, this was the seventh horror film to go wide in the 13 weeks of 2009 so far. Silly me. Audiences came out in droves, earning the film $23 million and the ninth biggest debut in Lionsgate’s history.

Who are these people chomping at the bit to see anything even remotely scary? Is it the same group of people seeing all of them or is there a guy out there who thinks, “’The Last House on the Left’ looks lame. But ‘The Haunting in Connecticut’ looks awesome!” I’m pretty sure I can spoil the endings to all of them at once right now: You wasted your money.

Back in seventh place is “12 Rounds” with $5.3 mil. John Cena is clearly no Dwayne Johnson and he may not even be Hulk Hogan. Remember “Suburban Commando?” Of course you do. Anyway, this debut tallied less than Cena’s debut, “The Marine,” and it marks another step backward for director Renny Harlin. The man behind classics like “Cliffhanger,” “Die Hard 2” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” saw his last film go straight to DVD, and now this. I blame Geena Davis, who left him during production of his last great epic: “Deep Blue Sea.”

Drops were 40% for “Knowing,” 29% for “I Love You, Man” and 46% for “Duplicity.” Anything less than 50% is a win for Nicolas Cage’s film and “I Love You, Man” is clearly benefiting from strong word of mouth (just not from me). The drop for “Duplicity” is troubling and indicates that frothy corporate capers aren’t really doing it for a recession-strapped nation.

One final note: “Watchmen” crossed the $100 million mark on Thursday, its 21st day in release. Pretty sad that it took 3 days to make $50 million and then 3 weeks to double it.

Next week we’ve got Vin Diesel and Paul Walker trying to resurrect their careers with “Fast & Furious.” This sequel is apparently so fast and so furious that they don’t even need to put “the” anywhere in the title this time. I’m sensing $46 million for this. The all-time record for an April debut is $50.4 million by “Anger Management” and if anything has a chance to dethrone it, this is the film.

Miramax goes wide with “Adventureland” and even though reviews have been apprehensively positive, I can’t see it breaking out. It’s got more of a “Waiting” vibe than a “Superbad” one. I think $7 million seems right but Miramax will be hoping for at least $10 million.

Finally, “Sunshine Cleaning” expands into 500 theaters or so nationwide and could sneak into the top 10. $1.8 million or so would do it and that seems feasible since it’s been doing quite well in limited release.

Here is the weekend’s top 10 domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, March 27, 2009

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

7 responses so far

  • 1 3-29-2009 at 4:49 pm

    Michael McKay said...

    I know were only coming up on April, but 2009 has been very disappointing so far. I can’t wait for Public Enemies and Up.

  • 2 3-29-2009 at 7:16 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    That’s what it always looks like, Michael. The first three months of any year suck overall for movies.

    But really, are any of us surprised at the success of an animated kids flick called “Monsters vs. Aliens”? Come on, the title alone practically guarantees a blockbuster hit. I have to say, though, I am just as mystified as Chad is about the success of these shitty horror movies.

  • 3 3-29-2009 at 11:36 pm

    Jester said...

    So far this year we have had Coraline, Two Lovers, Everlasting Moments, Goodbye Solo, and Duplicity. I think that’s all right for the first quarter of the year.

  • 4 3-30-2009 at 4:50 am

    limeymcfrog said...

    LOL on the Last House/Connecticut comment.

    For the casual horror fan, you have to make it easy. No room for any nuance in your title or marketing. “Last House on the Left” could be a romantic comedy about a realtor, but “A Haunting in Connecticut” is exactly what it says it is. There’s also a bizarre tendency of people in a state to see a film with the state in its title. I’ll bet the “in Connecticut” earned them at least 5 extra million.

    It is funny to think which horror film people will or will not see. I think the same thing about the Miley Cyrus film (big hit) versus the Jonas Brothers film (flop). When it’s all crap, who cares? They do apparently.

  • 5 3-30-2009 at 10:44 am

    BurmaShave said...

    For me GOMORRAH and HUNGER have been 2009 movies. CORALINE is a masterpiece. Add to that the second tier but decidedly enjoyable DUPLICITY and THE INTERNATIONAL, not to mention TOKYO SONATA and TAKEN (sorry but I loved that movie), and this has been a pretty awesome 2009 so far.

  • 6 3-30-2009 at 12:06 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Okay, okay, so this early year hasn’t been THAT bad.

  • 7 4-02-2009 at 12:29 pm

    Silencio said...

    I gotta say, Deep Blue Sea was awesome. The greatest Samuel L Jackson screen moment ever conceived.