Posted by · 4:05 pm · May 31st, 2010

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

The number one movie over the long Memorial Day weekend is “Shrek Forever After” with $55.7 million. That’s the lowest amount for a chart-topping film over Memorial Day since “Casper” in 1995. While Paramount will be delighted to hold on to the top spot and claim a morale boosting 39% dip for the jolly green giant, it won’t mask the fact that this weekend was kind of a disaster for studios and theater owners.

Dropping 39% over the three days and only 21% is a sorely needed win for “Shrek Forever After.” That gives it much better legs than the last installment and saves it from recording an embarrassing total. When it’s all said and done, it will still be the lowest grossing film in the franchise, but it will handily pass “How to Train Your Dragon” at least.

The runner-up spot is a toss up. “Sex and the City 2” claimed it on the three day weekend, but estimates have “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” overtaking it for the four day. But let’s start with the lovely ladies. Carrie Bradshaw and company started on Thursday with $14.3 million, as previously reported. For a Thursday, that was fine as long as the Friday saw a significant uptick. But it didn’t.

Instead, that Thursday will be the best daily gross that the film records and it’s already started its rapid descent out of theaters. $31.1 million for the three days is a significant decrease from the original and $51.4 million over five days is roughly what the first film had after two. Exit polls showed that the audience this time around was an insane 90% female, indicating that far fewer men allowed themselves to be dragged to a second round of torture. This is the second sequel in a row to post significant audience erosion and I like what I’m seeing so far this summer. Good work team.

“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” earned $30.1 million for the three days and $37.8 million over four. As a comparison, let’s just say that “The Animal” opened with $27.5 million on the same weekend in 2001. That’s right, the movie where Rob Schneider gets animal genes and dry humps mailboxes. “Bruce Almighty” debuted with $113.0 million over its four days in 2003. Simply put, for a blockbuster with this price tag and these ambitions, “Prince of Persia” is an epic fail.

Overseas grosses are already encouraging but I’ll be surprised if it passes $100 million domestically and that will put it on the same level as Bruckheimer’s previous classic, the $88.2 million grossing “Kangaroo Jack.” Speculation is a little less focused on why this failed to catch on but the reviews were poor, audiences were skeptical of Gyllenhaal and it’s really starting to seem like this is just not going to be a summer of careless spending by moviegoers.

Holds for the other big films were mostly slightly below average but “Letters to Juliet” again posted the best hold in the top 10, representing a small bright spot among the leftovers. A three day drop of 35% and four day gross of $7.3 million still only gives it a modest total of $38.0 million after three weeks, but Summit will take that when seeing what’s going on with everything around it.

One such thing is the 62% drop for “MacGruber,” which only averaged $746 per theater over the four days! That’s $187 a day. Luckily, the character is no stranger to bombs. Hey-oh!

I didn’t see anything this week and frankly, feel great about it. I’ve had a picnic in the park, read a Groucho Marx book and gone bowling. I head to Germany on Wednesday so I’m not sure I’ll get the Life Without Oscar or Friday Forecast column out this week. We’ll see what my set up is when I get there.

What did you guys see? Here are this week’s top grossing films, over the three day period, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

→ 30 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

30 responses so far

  • 1 5-31-2010 at 6:17 pm

    j said...

    I wonder how many weeks Dragon & Date Night can stay in the T10.

    Only 3 films have gotten multiple weeks of 1 mil total/10k avg this year: Avatar, Alice, Iron 2.

  • 2 5-31-2010 at 6:46 pm

    A.J said...

    This summer sucks so far in terms of box office… and product. I think Splice will be a sleeper hit, Toy Story 3 will be huge, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice will hold well, Eclipse will be just like New Moon, and Inception will be the top grosser (but not a massive opening weekend). I have no idea what The Last Airbender and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World will do. I don’t why I picked these films to talk about… right.

  • 3 5-31-2010 at 6:46 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    “‘Prince of Persia’ is an epic fail.”

    Aren’t all video game-based movies?

  • 4 5-31-2010 at 6:53 pm

    JJ said...

    Saw both Prince of Persian and Sex 2.

    Prince of Persia was alright. That’s about it. Theater was half-full and people clapped at the end of it.

    Sex 2 was so-so. I loved the show, liked the first film, and nostalgia takes over for my cynicism for this movie. I laughed a lot, but … it’s a pretty tacky, shallow movie. Theater has about 7 people in it. Crazy.

    That said, I’m surprised both movies didn’t do a little bit better.

    Though, weather was absolutely perfect in the New York area these past 5 days. I wonder if that had anything to do with it. Beaches were packed, and barbecues were aplenty.

  • 5 5-31-2010 at 7:12 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Robert Hamer- Most. But so were most pirate films.

    AJ- I can’t see Scott Pilgrim doing much better than Kick Ass.

  • 6 5-31-2010 at 7:25 pm

    Will said...

    Prince of Persia was sold out this weekend for me i think it will wind up grossing a lot more than people realize

  • 7 5-31-2010 at 7:50 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    This is going to be a weak summer for both box office and quality of film.

  • 8 5-31-2010 at 8:11 pm

    chris said...

    Chad, I agree totally with you about Scott Pilgrim. In fact I don’t think it will make as much as Kick-Ass. The Expendable will squash it in it’s opening weekend and my guess is it will be out of theaters by week 4.

  • 9 5-31-2010 at 10:12 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    The Expendables isn’t going to do that great either

  • 10 5-31-2010 at 10:33 pm

    BJT said...

    Have a great time in Germany, Chad.

    But isn’t it a bit extravagent, travelling to the other side of the world just to avoid going to the cinema?

  • 11 5-31-2010 at 11:27 pm

    red_wine said...

    I’ll just take a shot and predict that The Expendables will get absolutely shit reviews.

  • 12 5-31-2010 at 11:41 pm

    Paul said...

    Toy Story 3 will be the top grosser. Inception will do well, but it doing north of 300mil domestic is a reach imho.

  • 13 5-31-2010 at 11:52 pm

    Chauncey said...

    When the dust settles on Labor Day weekend, The Toys will be the runaway B.O. champ of the summer. I think people are being overly bullish on Inception. Don’t get me wrong, I think it will be a hit around 250mil. Nolan is not yet-though he is on his way there-in Cameron and Spielberg territory. Directors whose name alone can pull in the masses. When I talk to my friends about movies and talk about filmmakers, many of them don’t know Christopher Nolan to my surprise. They know Cameron, Spielberg, heck they know Michael Bay more than him.

    I have to remind them it’s the guy who directed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I guess they associate the new Batman/Dark Knight more so with Ledger and even Bale than Christopher Nolan.

  • 14 6-01-2010 at 12:35 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    @ red_ wine: You never know. I mean, look at how Grindhouse scored with critics. If it triggers some sort of action movie nostalgia within them, I could see critics rallying behind it.

  • 15 6-01-2010 at 12:02 pm

    Will said...

    i also think people are underestimating The Last Airbender to

  • 16 6-01-2010 at 12:04 pm

    tony rock said...

    Reviews for The Expendables will depend on how seriously it takes itself. If the story tries to have a message like Rambo, reviews will be bad. If it revels in its own goofy over-the-top action nostalgia, reviews could be good.

  • 17 6-01-2010 at 12:10 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Reviews for The Expendables, whether good or bad, will not matter for its box office.

  • 18 6-01-2010 at 9:47 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    How about is SATC 2? Liza Minnelli is the highlight as herself covering Single Ladies!

  • 19 6-01-2010 at 9:53 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    I meant to say – how bad?

  • 20 6-01-2010 at 11:00 pm

    MattD said...

    “Audiences were skeptical of Gyllenhaal” — Not denying you don’t know your facts, Chad, but I’m curious is this is based on some sort of polling? The group of us that went to “Persia” went in TO see Gyllenhaal, and those I talked to who DIDN’T go simply weren’t interested in a “sand and sandals” epic. As it was, I wasn’t a fan of the film, but thought the actors held their own with what they were given, especially Molina. And the ostriches.

  • 21 6-02-2010 at 5:56 am

    JJ said...

    Sex 2 will still go well over 100 mill domestic, and I think Persia will, too. I blame the initially low numbers (regardless of the films’ quality) on the incredible weather over the 5-day weekend (especially in the Northeast). People were at the beach or backyards, not the multiplexes.

  • 22 6-02-2010 at 6:53 am

    Kyle said...

    If the weather is a bigger draw than a film…that means there isn’t much demand to see the film.

  • 23 6-02-2010 at 9:56 am

    geha714 said...

    This looks to be a lame summer. Except for soccer fans, thanks to the World Cup.

    Only looking forward to Inception, Toy Story 3 and Scott Pilgrim. But some films look like guilty pleasures: A-Team, Splice and The Other Guys. The Expendables looks like a standard straight to DVD action flick, but with bigger names.

    Have a great time in Germany, Chad. It’s a beautiful country to visit. Auf wiedersehen!

  • 24 6-02-2010 at 10:46 am

    ninja said...

    ““Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” earned $30.1 million for the three days and $37.8 million over four. As a comparison, let’s just say that “The Animal” opened with $27.5 million on the same weekend in 2001. That’s right, the movie where Rob Schneider gets animal genes and dry humps mailboxes.”

    Best comparison ever. I LOL`d really hard.

  • 25 6-04-2010 at 4:23 am

    j said...

    Ouch. EW’s prediction puts Shrek on top for a 3rd week with 25, while Greek/Killers/Marmaduke/Persia are in the mid-teens. This year certainly has been lackluster so far with $ and critically…the two on MC with B+ avgs are documentaries.

  • 26 6-04-2010 at 6:23 am

    Kyle said...

    And we continue to hold out hope for Toy Story 3 and Inception.

  • 27 6-05-2010 at 1:50 pm

    Hans said...

    So did Chad just completely give up on the box office? I know I almost have.

  • 28 6-06-2010 at 7:21 pm

    Kyle said...

    I think, much like Megan Fox, its time for studios to realize this Katherine Heigl thing ain’t happening.

  • 29 6-09-2010 at 11:53 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I’m back! Sorry for the lack of updates but things will be normal again on Friday with a preview of another shitty weekend at the box office!

  • 30 6-09-2010 at 6:11 pm

    MovieMan said...

    I suppose I should update this with what I saw last week. It’s as perfect a time as any.

    The low-budgeted indie doc “Cropsey” is a fascinating, fitfully creepy expose into the legend behind the equally low-budgeted 1981 slasher flick “The Burning.”

    “Get Him to the Greek” is better in spurts than as a whole, which is pretty much typical of Judd Apatow’s oeuvre as a producer. It’s highly amusing, often laugh-out-loud funny, but it somewhat overstays its welcome.

    “Killers” dares to be different, which is perhaps why I admire it far more than most of the critics do. It’s a madcap and surprising romantic comedy thriller that handles its action elements really well.

    “Marmaduke” is a hideous film from front to finish, and it all centers around one of the most stuck-up, selfish dogs in the movies. Hated hated hated it.

    “Splice” is pretty much unlike anything released in 2010 thus far, and that’s a very good thing. It’s not perfect, but it’s very strong as a genre effort in both sci-fi and horror.