SUNDAY CENTS: ‘X’ marks the spot

Posted by · 2:53 pm · May 3rd, 2009

X-Men Origins: WolverineAfter all the hype, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” opened with a solid $87.0 million at the box office this weekend.  Both “X2” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” started with over $100 million* but “Wolverine” does better the $72.6 million of Bryan Singer’s original from 2000. When a film is received as poorly as Brett Ratner’s third entry in the franchise was, it’s only natural for the follow-up to start a bit lower.

Almost any franchise will prove this but the easiest example is “Batman.” Schumacher did his worst with “Batman & Robin” and unsuspecting customers shelled out $67.1 million* on opening weekend. The movie collapsed from there and it took Warner Bros. years to attempt another shot at the bat. In steps Christopher Nolan and “Batman Begins” debuted with a cautious $54.6 million. Everybody loved it, the stars aligned and “The Dark Knight” opened to $158.4 million. Obviously, there were other factors at play but look at the “Back to the Future,” “Mission: Impossible” and “The Matrix” films for further proof.

Anyway, all that is to say that $87 million isn’t really disappointing, nor is it that spectacular. “Iron Man” debuted with $98 million on this weekend last year without any previous big screen incarnations. “Wolverine” will most likely not make it to $200 million and life goes on.

Matthew McConaughey tried his luck at counter-programming and brought in $15.3 million for “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.” That’s the worst debut he’s had in the romantic comedy genre since “EdTV” in 1999 and only a tiny fraction better than “Made of Honor”’s debut last year versus Tony Stark. I’m willing to go out on a limb and guess that McConaughey’s salary was a bit larger than Patrick Dempsey’s so that return is just not good enough. I like to think that it didn’t do well because it looked awful but that wouldn’t explain “Wolverine”’s numbers.

And then there’s “Battle for Terra.” Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions partnered to buy the rights to distribute the film together but now Lionsgate is trying to pretend like it doesn’t exist. Audiences followed suit as the film only took in $1.1 million and couldn’t crack the top 10. In fact, it posted the 15th worst per theater average ever for a film opening in 1,000 screens or more. Grim.

The drops were pretty brutal again for last week’s releases as only “The Soloist” could keep more than 50% of its audience. Fighting dropped a horrific 62% and even Disneynature’s “Earth” fell 52% but if you think those are bad, just wait to see what the mutant does next week.

I gave my $10 to two different films this weekend. The first was “In a Dream” and it was great. If you don’t live in New York, L.A. or Philadelphia, you have no hope of seeing it but if the Academy has a decent memory and the slate winds up thin, it could deserve a look for Best Documentary. I also saw “The Limits of Control,” which tested the limits of my patience. I pretty much hated all of it save for Chris Doyle’s typically sumptuous cinematography.

If you’re 35 and have never had a girlfriend, chances are you are very excited about what’s coming out this Friday. That’s right, it’s “Star Trek.” If you just haven’t been satiated by the 10 previous films, six television series and countless imitations, then you’ve simply got to see this new movie. It’s young and hip and fresh and Tyler Perry is in it so black people are welcome too. This is no “Speed Racer” and it should buck the trend of huge bombs opening in the second weekend of May. I see $66 million in my crystal ball.

For those who like their movies with a little bit more Mos Def in them, there’s “Next Day Air.” Summit is only booking 1,000 screens or so, which isn’t a good sign but I actually think this could have been a small success given a wider push. I’ll say $5 mil and call it a missed opportunity.

What are your “Trek” predictions?  Here are the top 10 domestic grossers this weekend, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, May 1, 2009

*Please remember, I use dollar figures that have been adjusted for inflation when analyzing box office stats.

→ 23 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

23 responses so far

  • 1 5-03-2009 at 3:11 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “In a Dream” was one of the 15 docs shortlisted for the Oscar last year, if memory serves.

  • 2 5-03-2009 at 3:20 pm

    Chad said...

    Oh well then. Man on Wire is better.

  • 3 5-03-2009 at 4:41 pm

    Bill said...

    How was Bill Murray’s performance in Limits of Control? The man is arguably the USA’s greatest comic actor of all time, and we might not see him in too many more films. I’m afraid the Academy missed their opportunity to reward him in 2003, 1998, and 1993. I’m interested to see how he did in this.

  • 4 5-03-2009 at 5:22 pm

    Mike said...

    “If you’re 35 and have never had a girlfriend, chances are you are very excited about what’s coming out this Friday.”
    I just happen to be 22, and probably f_ucked more people than you ever will.

  • 5 5-03-2009 at 5:47 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Mike: Recognize a harmless joke when you see one. Jeez…

  • 6 5-03-2009 at 5:48 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Also, why put an underscore between the “f” and the “u” in “fucked?” Have some balls. Just type the word.

  • 7 5-03-2009 at 5:49 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    And speaking as someone who has had his share of run-ins with the opposite sex, “Star Trek” is far and away the best film of the year.

  • 8 5-03-2009 at 5:51 pm

    Bill said...

    Tapley’s a pimp…

  • 9 5-03-2009 at 6:39 pm

    Chad said...

    I never said ONLY 35 year old virgins are pumped. But they are especially pumped.

    And Bill Murray has about ten lines in three minutes of screen time in The Limits of Control. That’s more or less the same for every actor listed aside from Isaach de Bankole

  • 10 5-03-2009 at 6:43 pm

    Bill said...

    What a waste.

  • 11 5-03-2009 at 6:51 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    Im thinking Star Trek will open with more then 100 million and have great legs, how good is this movie kris?

  • 12 5-03-2009 at 7:33 pm

    Chad said...

    100 mil would be astronomical. No Star Trek movie has ever debuted with over 50 mil. What I said about the virgins was a joke but there’s no denying that there’s a certain stigma attached to this franchise. It’s nerdy. It’s a niche. Abrams seems to have tried to subvert that but if that’s the case, major success will come from the word of mouth. Right now, anything over 50 mil would already be a huge, huge success for Paramount.

  • 13 5-03-2009 at 7:34 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    wait for it man, im seeing big things

  • 14 5-03-2009 at 7:41 pm

    Ben M. said...

    X2 did not open with 100 million domestically, I believe it was 85 million and thus Wolverine topped it barely. I heard Star Trek was tracking in the 50 million range so it is hard to see it getting enough momentum to surpass Wolverine’s opening, but it might be able to get some good WOM boost to a 60-65 million opening weekend.

  • 15 5-03-2009 at 7:43 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Oh wait, I see X2 was adjusted for inflation. But still I think Wolverine’s opening was fairly solid (it is also a bit harder to sell a solo film, even with the most popular character from the film series, than a team film).

  • 16 5-03-2009 at 9:08 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Requiem: Review first thing tomorrow.

  • 17 5-03-2009 at 11:37 pm

    Kyle Leaman said...

    I have to disagree with your comment that X3 was poorly recieved in a similair way that Batman & Robin was. It sits at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes and the film made some decent bank with fairly decent legs. I hear a lot of griping from particular internet groups, but most people outside critics and said internet groups seem to have liked this film. It seems the response to Wolverine would indicate that X3 didn’t burn bridges like Batman & Robin did.

  • 18 5-04-2009 at 12:20 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Expanding on Kyle’s point, I think Wolverine will easily find its way to $200 million.

  • 19 5-04-2009 at 6:36 am

    Bill said...

    I think there’ll be a big drop off for Wolverine this weekend.

  • 20 5-04-2009 at 4:07 pm

    katie said...

    “Tyler Perry is in it so black people are welcome too.”

    ugh. I hate tyler perry movies. it’s one thing to joke about nerds and their track record with the ladies, but please don’t generalize black people. Black people like action movies and..gasp, other movies that aren’t tyler perry movies.


  • 21 5-04-2009 at 4:08 pm

    katie said...

    But it was annoying nonetheless

  • 22 5-04-2009 at 4:52 pm

    chad said...

    The joke was meant to make fun of Paramount and their thought process behind such a useless cameo. Believe me, I know smart black people who hate Tyler Perry and stupid white people who love him.

  • 23 5-05-2009 at 12:02 am

    JAB said...

    Has anyone else seen the new Wolverine spot saying “The Critics have spoken” before flashing logos of a few big newspapers, as if it’s getting heavy praise from anybody?