SUNDAY CENTS: Pain in the ‘Shrek’

Posted by · 1:51 pm · May 23rd, 2010

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

We did it guys! Collectively, we have decided that the Shrek property, after three dreadful installments, is no longer an untouchable juggernaut, but just a regular old extremely profitable movie. We have also decided that summer 2010 is going to give movie theater owners a lot of headaches, for which the only prescription is to make popcorn $17 and sell ads on the back of the chairs in front of you. Enjoy!

Let’s clarify. “Shrek Forever After” is the number one movie at the box office with $71.3 million, instantly becoming the most pathetic film ever to make $70 million in three days. Why? Maybe because “Ice Age: The Meltdown” can debut with $82.6 million in March? But mostly because “Shrek the Third” debuted with $140.5 million in 2007. When you factor in the fact that “Shrek Forever After” probably earned most of its coin from inflated 3D prices, you are looking at less than half the tickets sold from one film to the next. That’s an almost unprecedented exodus for an established franchise like this.

General fatigue with the characters and the universe is the obvious explanation, but that still only takes you so far. We’re three weeks in now and summer 2010 is posting up consistently disappointing numbers. Granted, “Iron Man 2” and “Robin Hood” came in right around expectations, but the lack of an encouraging or surprising box office performer so far this summer is cause for concern.

You certainly won’t find any encouragement in the performance of “MacGruber.” It takes a special kind of awful performance to be an unmitigated disaster when your budget is only $12 million. “MacGruber” gave us that special kind of awful with $4.1 million and sixth place. Not only is it easily the worst wide opening for a “Saturday Night Live” spin-off, but it’s the fourth worst opening of all time for a film on 2,500 screens or more. Only “The Rocker,” “Lucky You” and “Hoot” have done worse.

I guess opening movies isn’t Will’s forté. A-thank you and please tip your waitress.

Opening at number ten is “Kites,” and unless you have Indian heritage, you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s the first Bollywood film to ever make the top 10 but that has more to do with the overall market being so anemic than the performance of the film. A $1.0 million gross from 208 screens is good, but par for the course with Bollywood titles and it’ll drop like a stone from here.

“Robin Hood” falls 48% to $18.7 million to continue its uninspiring run. Overseas markets are eating it up, as expected, so the status quo remains for all involved. “Iron Man 2” drops 49% to $26.6 million and may not even top the gross of “Iron Man.” In this climate, that’s a failure.

“Letters to Juliet” was the lone bright spot of the week with a respectable 33% drop. With an underwhelming debut, though, that still brings it down to $9.1 million and it’s hard to get too excited about a $27.4 million running total. Drops will have to get even better for me to start being impressed.

So what’s going on people? Are we deliberately avoiding the big guns this summer? Sending Hollywood a message? I’m all for it and I’ve been doing it since 2006 pretty much by myself. This week, though, I saw “Thorn in the Heart.” I was literally the only person at the 3:10 Wednesday show at the Sunset 5 so it’s not like the indies are having it much better. I liked the film a lot though and you should try to seek it out if you can.

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

→ 32 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

32 responses so far

  • 1 5-23-2010 at 2:03 pm

    James D. said...

    Poor MacGruber. Some of the reviews were pretty positive.

  • 2 5-23-2010 at 2:18 pm

    Emily said...

    I just saw Shrek unfortunately. It was easily the worst Shrek and probably the worst animated film I’ve seen in theaters that I can remember.

  • 3 5-23-2010 at 2:18 pm

    Estefan said...

    I think its performance is definitely due to the massive disappointment regarding “Shrek the Third.” It was obvious from that one that the series was tired and the writers over at DreamWorks had run out of ideas of what to do with the characters. And while you have the opinion that the whole series is terrible (and you have the right to that opinion), the general consensus on the first two was and still is very positive.

    Another contributor is definitely the lack of excitement for this entry as Toy Story 3 is gobbling up the “animated sequel” anticipation this summer. You want a film that destroy box-office records? It will be that one, no question about it. A worldwide box-office gross of less than $800 million for Toy Story 3 will be utterly shocking.

  • 4 5-23-2010 at 2:38 pm

    Perry said...

    I’m not avoiding anything, just everything that’s come out so far this year has sucked hard. Just my honest opinion.

  • 5 5-23-2010 at 3:01 pm

    Jim T said...

    Am I the only who thinks Robin Hood is doing terribly? I mean, are they even going to make a profit?

  • 6 5-23-2010 at 3:23 pm

    Nel said...

    Kites? Is that the first time a Bollywood flick has made the US top ten? If it is that is rather suprising as I well thought it would be someone like SRK rather than Roshan.

  • 7 5-23-2010 at 3:25 pm

    Nel said...

    Whoops – sorry scan read that, so it is the first. Even with that I betchya SRK is not a happy man today.

  • 8 5-23-2010 at 3:29 pm

    cineJAB said...

    word of mouth might be good for MacGruber though, i saw it and really enjoyed it, and it seemed like most of the audience did too.

  • 9 5-23-2010 at 3:44 pm

    hopeless pedant said...

    Robin Hood looks like it is holding up OK, but it seems like it is headed for a significant loss because of its enormous expense (including marketing).

    The surprise of the weekend was the decent showing of Solitary Man in NY & LA – in four theatres, in more than doubled Mother and Son’s mediocre (and predictive of its futher failure since) performance. After City Island, Anchor Bay, never before a mainstream indie theatrical player, could have its second success of the year.

    Secret in Their Eyes continues solid as well as it widens, so specialized isn’t totally dead

  • 10 5-23-2010 at 3:59 pm

    Adam M. said...

    ‘Shrek’ didn’t hold because the generation that originally embraced the franchise is now 9 years older, and ‘Shrek the Third’ gave no incentive to stick around.

    I realized the film was in trouble when I was talking to my friend’s younger sister–nine years old and a frequent contributor to the kiddie matinee push–and she said “Shrek who?” Indeed, she was an infant when the first film was released. And those who were in her place nine years ago are now 18, and much less inclined to cough up $8-$20 for a 90 minute PG ‘toon.

    The overall “disappointing” summer box-office landscape thus far is due to: (1) movie-going fatigue, after a horrifically lackluster lineup through Q1; (2) absurdly high expectations (‘Iron Man 2’ opened to $128M, none of it from 3D ticket overcharges, and it’s a disappointment??); and (3) we’re only 3 weeks into the movie season–i.e. we’re jumping the gun with any broad-based evaluations.

  • 11 5-23-2010 at 4:06 pm

    Jim T said...

    Kris? No post about Lost? Have you lost interest? Even now? Are you going to write anything after the airing? Am I asking too many questions? :p

  • 12 5-23-2010 at 4:51 pm

    al b. said...

    “‘Shrek’ didn’t hold because the generation that originally embraced the franchise is now 9 years older…”

    Exactly, I was 10 when the original Shrek was released and I loved it dearly, and I found it utterly hilarious! Now that I’m 19, I feel like I outgrew the series, especially after the second. Every time I watch the original now, I have less love for it each time.

    And as for this nonsense of a “disappointing” summer at the box-office is just that, nonsense! It’s not even June yet, for chrissake! Just wait for Toy Story 3, Eclipse, and Inception and we’ll see what people have to say about “disappointing” box office numbers!

  • 13 5-23-2010 at 7:26 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    al b.: The summer certainly looks disappointing to me, in the sense that there’s not more than one or two movies I have any interest in seeing. The Woody Allen movie got pushed to the fall, for one thing. All the sequels are of movies I had no interest in the first time around. Except for the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz popcorn flick, there’s really no summer movie that I’m much looking forward too.

  • 14 5-23-2010 at 9:04 pm

    Will said...

    Hollywood simply needs to start making better movies though i fail to see how Iron Man 2 is a disapointment

  • 15 5-24-2010 at 12:19 am

    Nauval said...

    Date Night seems to hold up v. well. It’s been more than 5 weeks in Top 10, I think. Were there any other rom-coms who had equal, if not greater, staying power in the past?

  • 16 5-24-2010 at 1:16 am

    Glenn said...

    Hopefully this means “Shrek” 5 and 6 will be cancelled, unless they’ve already started and it would prove even more expensive to cancel.

  • 17 5-24-2010 at 7:12 am

    Adam K. said...

    It’d be kinda cool to see “Date Night” hold up well enough to crack $100 million, even despite its relative mediocrity, just to prove that Fey and Carrell are a better draw than mindless explosions.

    And I’d think “How to Train Your Dragon” is the offical “surprise success” of the year… wasn’t it a pretty big deal that it clawed its way back into the top spot after 3 weeks, and since then has grossed $200 million? Plus it was ACTUALLY GOOD! That should count for something. I think people will start talking about it again if it finally tops Kung Fu Panda, which I hope it will.

    It really deserves to win the animated oscar this year. Nice to see it in your adapted screenplay predictions. That would be sweet.

  • 18 5-24-2010 at 7:55 am

    JJ said...

    I think Robin Hood looks for a 350-400 total worldwide, if not more. To me, given it’s extremely checkered past, that’s pretty decent, actually. Not good. But decent. It could have been a lot worse.

  • 19 5-24-2010 at 10:02 am

    Kyle said...

    Looking at the rest of the summer, I think Toy Story 3 and the third Twilight trainwreck will pull in pretty big numbers…Sex and the City 2 is going to be harder to gauge…I predict big dissapointment (with pretty venomous word of mouth).
    Inception won’t do Dark Knight business, or even Star Trek business, but if received well, it’ll outgross Shutter Island at least.

  • 20 5-24-2010 at 12:03 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I think Inception will outgross Shutter Island in five days.

  • 21 5-24-2010 at 12:20 pm

    Estefan said...

    A little off-topic, but I think this year will also see five nominees for best animated feature and even if it is just three, I still say Tangled has a bigger shot of getting in than The Illusionist.

  • 22 5-24-2010 at 12:45 pm

    James D. said...

    Shutter Island has 127.5 total domestic. Inception doing that in five days? It is certainly possible, but how much interest is there in a film that is not tied to some tentpole franchise?

  • 23 5-24-2010 at 1:11 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    You heard it here first

  • 24 5-24-2010 at 3:13 pm

    ninja said...

    Summer may be disappointing but March sure as hell wasn`t. Quietly and totally unexpectedly, Alice In Wonderland is crossing $1 billion worldwide this week. That makes Johnny Depp the only actor ever to headline two $1 billion grossers. Other actors who starred in such movies but weren`t the main boxoffice draw are Borelando Bloom (ROTK, DMC) and Bernard Hill (Titanic, ROTK).

    I hope Inception is just as big a break out hit. I know it`s a tough sell but it looks amazing and there`s some serious anticipation for it. Plus, new character posters are up and they explain or throw more mystery in who is doing what.

  • 25 5-24-2010 at 4:45 pm

    Kyle said...

    I would love for Inception to do gangbusters at
    the box office, but I’m keeping my expectations in check. What did The Prestige do? I predict a doubling of that number.

  • 26 5-24-2010 at 7:40 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Are you kidding me? The Prestige was an October $40 mil period mystery from the director of Batman Begins. Inception is a July $200 mil sci-fi action flick from the director of The Dark Knight. Seriously guys, you can get fanboy nerdy on this one. It’s gonna be huge.

  • 27 5-25-2010 at 3:12 pm

    Kyle said...

    Real artists deserve to be rewarded…I hope you’re right Chad.

  • 28 5-25-2010 at 8:09 pm

    Maxim said...

    Actually Shrek 4 is plenty imaginative. And it’s not suprising that there would a drop at all. It doesn’t matter. We are loking at a very profitable movie.

  • 29 5-25-2010 at 8:11 pm

    Maxim said...

    “Collectively, we have decided that the Shrek property, after three dreadful installments, is no longer an untouchable juggernaut, but just a regular old extremely profitable movie.”

    You are an idiot. There is no reason to hate on a franchise that was actually pretty darn amazing.

  • 30 5-26-2010 at 11:20 am

    Erik 815 said...

    To think that Shrek 1 won the oscar and played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. We’ve come a loooong way…

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