SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Fast’ cash

Posted by · 2:29 pm · April 5th, 2009

Fast & FuriousI have recently unearthed an internal industry memo.  It reads:

Dear Studios,

If you’d like us to pay to see your franchises, you must bring back all the cast members that starred in the original.  Do not worry about changing the plot too much, we liked what we saw that first time.  You don’t even need to change the title, just get rid of those definite articles that waste marquee space.  If you follow our demands, we will show up in droves.

Signed, America

That explains how “Fast & Furious” was able to make $72.5 million over the weekend.  That’s stronger than both the $50.9 million of the original and the $60.1 million debut of its first sequel.  It’s better than any other film from 2009 so far and any other film that’s ever debuted in the month of April.  By a mile.  For Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, what seemed like desperation now looks like smart business sense.  Legs will be atrocious but it doesn’t matter.  $300 million worldwide seems like a certainty at this point and Hollywood may start looking at April a little differently.  Anybody that shelled out $10 to see this has no right to complain about anything Hollywood puts out ever again.

A film with good reviews opened as well but since there were no car chases in it, sixth place and $6.0 million is all it could muster.  The film is “Adventureland” and despite Miramax’s attempts to market it like a raunchy, broad teen comedy, audiences saw through all that and the film performed like a coming-of-age drama.  Legs could be decent but they’ll have to be tremendous for the film to even reach $20 million.

Another new face appeared in the top 10, bringing up the rear.  Overture expanded “Sunshine Cleaning” to 479 theaters and earned a solid $1.9 million.  The Sundance pick-up has set itself up to finish slightly better than Overture’s indie-that-could from last year, “The Visitor,” but don’t count on any Oscar attention.  The grosses aren’t near enough to wipe away the mediocre reviews.

In its second week, “Monsters vs. Aliens” dropped an understandable 44% and crossed the $100 million mark today.  Despite a slower start, it should have no trouble fending off “Fast & Furious” and lay claim to the title of highest grossing film of the first quarter by the time May rolls around.  As for the film most had pegged for that honor, the news gets grimmer and grimmer.  Already out of the top 10 and struggling to double its debut, “Watchmen” is being met with shrugs throughout the world and has amassed only $67 million overseas.  “Bride Wars” has made $54 million so you do the  math.

Next week’s big gun is “Hannah Montana: The Movie.”  If a concert film on 687 screens can debut with $31.1 million, then a full blown feature on 3,000 screens has to do better, right?  I don’t think so.  If there’s one thing audiences love, it’s a gimmick and the 3D concert was just that.  Miley Cyrus may be a concert draw but she’s no movie star just yet.  I’m looking at $25 million.

Seth Rogen teams up with the team behind “The Foot Fist Way” for a comedy that looks to earn every inch of its R-rating.  “Observe and Report” has none of the gooey sentiment of the Apatow-inspired batch of comedies that have dominated the landscape the past few years and as a result, I can’t see women showing up like they did for “I Love You, Man.”  $14 million would be a decent result.

Finally, Fox unleashes “Dragonball Evolution.”  After “Street Fighter” and “12 Rounds,” I have to assume that whoever was giving out green lights 18 months ago at that studio was either stoned out of his mind or a 10-year-old boy.  $6 million.

In the name of restoring sanity, if you have a chance and haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out “Sugar “or “Goodbye Solo” while they’re out.  Here are the week’s top 10 domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Week of Friday, April 3, 2009

→ 19 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

19 responses so far

  • 1 4-05-2009 at 2:35 pm

    Jeremy said...

    Chad, do you have any idea why Adventureland was pushed back a week from its original March 27 date? At first I thought Miramax just didn’t want to compete against Monsters vs. Aliens, but thinking about it, that doesn’t make any sense. Monsters vs. Aliens is family- and child-oriented and has little overlap with Adventureland’s teen- and twentysomething-base. Fast & Furious, in contrast, is marketed squarely at teens and college males — the same audience that might have seen Adventureland instead. I’m betting that if Mottola’s movie had come out last week as planned, it would have landed $10 million.

  • 2 4-05-2009 at 3:10 pm

    Chad said...

    Don’t know for sure but my guess would be to try and get as many word-of-mouth screenings out there as possible. They happen all the time in LA and New York. Sensing it was gonna be a tough market, that was the only chance they had.

  • 3 4-05-2009 at 3:19 pm

    RichardA said...

    Miramax would have done well to cater to the Miramax viewers–an audience they know best. They might not show up the first week, but they have legs. They would have known who Jesse Eisenberg is and where they remember Kristen Stewart from. I did like Jesse in “The Squid and The Whale” but I have been wondering what he has been up to lately.

    2F2F is easy to explain; what I don’t get is how Taken is doing so well in the same group.

    Not complaining here–studios have to make money to make the movies that nobody watches.

  • 4 4-05-2009 at 4:29 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I second the comment re: “Sugar.” Amazing little film.

  • 5 4-05-2009 at 4:35 pm

    KBJr. said...

    Apparently I’m the only one in America that thinks there is zero to see at the movies. I would say 72 MIL for that film (and success for that matter) is the most shocking and disgusting development of 2009, but that would be ignoring the tow of ‘Paul Blart’…recessions really do make folks want to escape…with ANYTHING.

  • 6 4-05-2009 at 4:51 pm

    Jester said...

    Really KBJr., zero to see at the movies.

    Coraline, Two Lovers, Everlasting Moments, Goodbye Solo, and Duplicity.

    You Can’t ask for much more in the first quarter of the year.

    I have not even seen Sugar yet, but loved Half Nelson and am looking forward to it. Remember, there is much more than big studio releases.

  • 7 4-05-2009 at 5:00 pm

    KBJr. said...

    Those of us who don’t live on either coast have our options limited.

  • 8 4-05-2009 at 5:31 pm

    Ryan said...

    Gotta admit, I saw Fast & Furious, but only because I was sorta fond of the first one. I did NOT see the second and third movies though.

    So far this year I’ve seen Coraline, Duplicity, and Watchmen. Looking forward to State of Play in a few weeks.

    There’s ALWAYS something to watch. But yes, I do live in NYC.

  • 9 4-05-2009 at 6:29 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Yeah… I still haven’t seen a single 2009 release yet. I think I’m going to spend some cash on “Adventureland” next weekend, however.

  • 10 4-05-2009 at 6:54 pm

    head_wizard said...

    I just saw Adventure Land and thought it was quite good, defently not a comedy but still very good probably the best I have seen so far (Granted the only other thing I have seen was Coraline and Sunshine Cleaning Service)

  • 11 4-05-2009 at 6:56 pm

    James D. said...

    This is why I don’t go to a lot of movies from March through October.

  • 12 4-05-2009 at 7:09 pm

    Ben said...

    I concur with KBJ, I have yet to see a 2009 release. There’s been a few films that have mildly piqued my interest, but nothing that made me want to run out, and it should be said, reviews/buzz have deterred me from a couple films I was mildly interested in (Watchmen, etc.).

    I, too, live on neither coast, so my options are limited living in Tennessee…..typically, unless I want to drive at least a hour each way, a film needs to be in 700+ theaters for me to have a reasonable chance of seeing it in theaters.

  • 13 4-05-2009 at 8:29 pm

    Chad said...

    For those in the flyover states I’d recommend watching “Alexander the Last”, “Hunger” or “Medicine for Melancholy” on IFC on demand. If you have digital cable, you should be able to get them.

  • 14 4-06-2009 at 8:11 am

    Kokushi said...

    Kris, so Sugar is good movie? im from dominican republic and 99% of the movies that are made here are decent at best.

  • 15 4-06-2009 at 8:40 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Sugar” is a great film, Kokushi, but it’s an American production. (Only the opening stages are set in the Dominican Republic.) Anyway, I agree with Chad and Kris — it’s an absolute must-see.

  • 16 4-06-2009 at 8:56 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    America is pathetic — great films like “Sin Nombre” and “Adventureland” predictably get no business but recycled, souped-up crap like “Fast & Furious” kills with them. I wonder what Universal will call the sequel to the reboot of the trilogy of the worst movies ever made. And will Michelle Rodriguez’ teeth still be unnaturally perfect…

  • 17 4-06-2009 at 9:15 am

    Marshall1 said...

    Luv the fake memo, but so true….
    however….72 million? really?
    I guess all the men showed up for the movie and dragged their girlfriends/wives with them
    don’t underestimate people who are into cars
    they might be there just to see the fast cars
    they don’t care about plots, actors etc.

  • 18 4-06-2009 at 1:08 pm

    Casey Fiore said...

    I was quite disappointed the other night when leaving the theater for Adventureland. Not because I didn’t like the film, but because I thought it was fantastic and yet it was quite clear to me that Fast & Furious and Monsters v. Aliens would be shitting on it this weekend. I hate to judge on appearances, but it looked to me like the collective IQ Adventureland is my no. 1 of the year so far

  • 19 4-06-2009 at 1:10 pm

    Casey Fiore said...

    sorry. it looked like the collective IQ for the enormous line for F&F was lower than Forrest Gump’s. I thought Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Reynolds, and especially, shockingly, Kristen Stewart, were great in Adventureland. Stewart actually broke my heart. I’m beginning to grow great respect for Greg Mottola as a filmmaker