SUNDAY CENTS: The ‘Iron’ is still hot

Posted by · 6:39 pm · May 9th, 2010

*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

“Iron Man 2” landed with a softer than expected $133.6 million to easily win the weekend. Now, is it even possible for $133.6 million to ever be disappointing? That’s the ninth biggest opening weekend of all time for crying out loud. Plus the film has already racked up more than $300 million worldwide so there is no danger of it not being extremely profitable for Paramount. Still, I think this just about the bare minimum it could have possibly made without raising some eyebrows. The original film opened on the same week two years ago to $109.2 million, which at the time made it the third biggest debut ever for a non-sequel.

Being as popular as it was, a bigger debut for the sequel was an absolute requirement. Films in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Shrek” franchises took enormous leaps from the debuts of their first film to second, but to be fair, those original films both opened with much more modest numbers than the first “Iron Man.” With “Spider-Man 3” proving that you can open in the beginning of May and earn more than $150 million without breaking a sweat, there’s really no reason why “Iron Man 2” shouldn’t have done the same.

There’s certainly no competition. They brought back all the ingredients that made the first film likable (except no one will mind if we replace the black guy, right?). Some might be quick to say the lack of 3D hurt it, but that’s nonsense. Whatever the case, I’d now say that surpassing the $352.6 million of the original is not a foregone conclusion and ending the summer as the number one film is also unlikely. Your move, “Twilight!”

Speaking of films that maybe should have been in 3D, what about “Babies?” You dropped the ball Focus. The non-fiction, two dimensional adventures of a bunch of babies earned $1.6 million in tenth place. Even with a low screen count of 534, that’s not great. Luckily, in a week full of awful, not great is good enough for the second best per theater average in the top 10. It seems like Focus spent a fortune on advertising so let’s hope they make it back from the action figures and merchandise.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” dropped 72% to $9.2 million and second place. Only “Friday the 13th” and “Doom” have dropped harder when opening on 3,000 screens or more, so Freddy is in good company. Of course, Warner Bros. knew all along that they would only have one good weekend and hopefully budgeted accordingly. It’s films like this that make my job extremely easy. Whatever the next big horror remake is, I predict will open big and fall hard. Don’t even need to know the title. Where do I pick up my check?

Another weekend in the top three for “How to Train Your Dragon” makes it seven in a row. Excluding “Avatar,” the last film to accomplish that was “Cast Away.” The animated instructional video also crossed the $200 million barrier in the process.

The rest of the top 10 mostly capitulated in the face of “Iron Man 2” and will slowly shuffle off as more summer big guns enter the fray. In limited release, “Mother and Child” had a solid start for Sony Classics, while “Please Give” had a successful mini-expansion from the same studio.

This week I saw “No One Knows About Persian Cats” at the Music Hall and was left disappointed by yet another IFC release this year. If they didn’t buy my best friend’s movie, I’d have to consider a boycott. Honestly, cultural significance aside, it’s a really sloppy, boring film with a horribly melodramatic ending. Pity.

What did you guys see? Here are this week’s top grossing films courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

→ 14 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

14 responses so far

  • 1 5-09-2010 at 7:01 pm

    Michael said...

    I haven’t seen “Babies” yet. :(

  • 2 5-09-2010 at 7:09 pm

    seanflynn said...

    Mother and Child did not have a solid start – that PSA for four of the best NY and LA theatres is generously called mediocre, is actually a bit below that. The film faces a rocky future and a likely low (sub-$2 million) ultimate gross.

    Sony Classics is doing a good deal better with The Secrets in Their Eyes, which looks like it might reach the level (good, not great) that Coco Before Chanel did last year.

    Music Box is still not getting its figures reported beyond EDI, so we don’t know yet how The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – which is doing quite well – did, or how the new OSS 177 film opened yet.

  • 3 5-09-2010 at 7:28 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I’d call it solid for that film

  • 4 5-09-2010 at 8:28 pm

    DRM said...

    I like the fact that you only deal with inflation-adjusted figures. And it would be nice if Box Office Mojo could start doing a better job accounting for 3D prices. Avatar sold a similar number of tickets to The Dark Knight, but made more than $200 million higher in North America due entirely to the premium of 3D ticket prices. At the time that Avatar passed Titanic’s $600 million total, Box Office Mojo had an article where they estimated that it was around 61 million tickets sold. If you extrapolate that to the film’s current total of $750 million, you get 75 million tickets sold. The Dark Knight is estimated to have sold 74 million tickets. Titanic is estimated to have sold 128 million tickets, which just shows that Avatar wasn’t anywhere near as big of a cultural phenomenon.

    It would be nice if Hollywood would be more honest about all the alleged box office records that get broken seemingly every year or every other year. Just give us the tickets sold figure. The music industry isn’t hiding behind inflation, despite the obvious collapse in unit sales because of piracy on the Internet. Yet Hollywood has always used only nominal dollars, which is pretty misleading.

  • 5 5-09-2010 at 9:41 pm

    seanflynn said...

    Chad –
    Sorry but $11,000 PSA at these four theatres is not remotely solid.

    Just going back over the past few weeks and some other specialized theatres, overlapping these theatres or playing at similar ones:

    (the more theatres of course, usually the lower relative PSA)

    Exit Through the Gift Shop – PSA of $21,000 in 8 theatres (including doing over $50,000 at the Arclight)

    Secret in Their Eyes – $16,800 in 10

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – $9,000 in 34 (!) theatres

    A Prophet – which is a failure by any common-sense description – did $18,200 in 9 theatres

    (all above are PSAs).

    For the theatres this played at, the advertising spent and the decent level of reviews, this needed to have a PSA of over $20,000 to indicate any chance of longer term success. At this level, they will lose some or most of these theatres after three weeks at the most.

    Your analysis is mainly quite good, but calling these solid grosses – which I assume means good, indicative of present and future success – is inaccurate. And you will see the proof over the next few weeks.

  • 6 5-10-2010 at 5:53 am

    ninja said...

    I`m just happy that IM2 opening gave huge exposure to Inception. The trailer is considered to be the best thing about IM2 by many.

  • 7 5-10-2010 at 6:36 am

    Ben M. said...

    Yeah, it is a okay opening for IM2 but I think all the parties involved had to be hoping for better, there is also a decent chance that it may not overtake Alice in Wonderland for the #1 of the year. And I do feel the lack of 3D hurt the film, not just the ticket price but some people seem to expect big spectacle blockbusters to be in 3D and this wasn’t (I’ve heard reports of people going to the theatre for IM2 and asking where their 3D glasses are).

  • 8 5-10-2010 at 7:59 am

    DRM said...


    I agree about IM2/Inception trailer. The trailer was phenomenal, while IM2 itself was very “bleh.” More of the same. A typical rehash sequel.

  • 9 5-10-2010 at 10:35 am

    Hans said...

    So happy this wasn’t in 3D. Talk about a fad that has thoroughly outlived its welcome in a just a few months time.

  • 10 5-10-2010 at 3:14 pm

    Craig said...

    What kind of sick moviegoer actually wants something in 3D?

  • 11 5-10-2010 at 6:05 pm

    j said...

    Adjusted down. The PSA is less than 30k, which is below (given, 3D, but still) Alice’s opening average.

  • 12 5-10-2010 at 8:59 pm

    tony rock said...

    @Ben M…hopefully that report is an isolated incident because those ppl are morons. If Iron Man 2 was in 3D it would’ve said so on the marquee and in the trailers. People these days…

  • 13 5-11-2010 at 7:33 am

    Speaking English said...

    Interesting, “Iron Man 2” actually ended up with $128 million, $5m less than predicted, while “Babies” jumped up another million for a $2m weekend.

  • 14 5-12-2010 at 9:50 am

    A.J said...

    Top grossing movie of the summer? I wonder what it will be. It certainly won’t be Eclipse neither predecessor broke 300 and it’s doubtful that Eclipse will. Toy Story 3, The Last Airbender, and Inception I guess are the only ones that can beat Iron Man 2. Airbender will likely fail due to bad reviews and Inception needs excellent word of mouth. Toy Story 3 definitely can pull in over 300 million but more than Iron Man 2?