Box office: 'Alice in Wonderland' leaves 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid,' 'The Bounty Hunter' far behind
March 21, '10, update: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland grossed an estimated $34.5 million at the North America box office this weekend (March 19–21, '10), easily fending off new entries Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Bounty Hunter, the latter starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Thus, Alice in Wonderland has managed to top the box office chart for the third consecutive weekend.
The 3D fantasy adventure featuring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Anne Hathaway dropped a perfectly acceptable 45 percent from a week ago. To a large extent thanks to costlier 3D/IMAX tickets Alice in Wonderland has earned an impressive $265.8 million to date.
Also in the Alice in Wonderland cast:
March 22 box office actuals: Alice in Wonderland actually scored a slightly more modest $34.18 million over the weekend.
'Wimpy Kid' beats Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler
Due to solid Saturday and Sunday business, when parents feel coerced to take their children to the movies, Diary of a Wimpy Kid landed at no. 2 with $21.8 million and a good $7,085 average at 3,077 locations as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Directed by Thor Freudenthal, and featuring Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron, the $15 million-budgeted kiddie flick focuses on the travails of a middle-school student.
Despite the presence of major names like Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, Andy Tennant's The Bounty Hunter had to settle for third place with an estimated $21 million. Considering how poorly received the romantic comedy has been – most critics hated it – a $6,831 per-screen average isn't bad at all.
For comparison's sake: last weekend, the Paul Greengrass-Matt Damon Iraq War thriller Green Zone bowed with a $4,765 per screen average, the Robert Pattinson romantic drama Remember Me posted $3,657, and the teen comedy She's Out of My League $3,307.
But even though The Bounty Hunter's debut weekend figures weren't downright poor, it's unlikely that the Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler combo will get even close to recovering its $40 million price tag at the North American box office. The movie would need to make about twice as much for the studio to break even, as exhibitors usually keep 40–50 percent of the grosses, not including marketing and distribution costs.
Also in the The Bounty Hunter cast:
Christine Baranski. Jason Sudeikis. Adam Rose. Jason Kolotouros. Peter Greene. Jeff Garlin. David Costabile.
Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull, 1980).
Best Actress Oscar nominee Carol Kane (Hester Street, 1975).
March 22 box office actuals: Diary of a Wimpy Kid did a little better than estimated, with $22.12 million. The Bounty Hunter did a little worse than estimated, collecting $20.68 million.
'Repo Men' ready for repossession
Starring two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law (supporting for The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999; lead for Cold Mountain, 2003) and Best Actor Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, 2006), Repo Men had a dismal opening at no. 4, with a mere $6.015 million and a meager $2,440 per-screen average.
Miguel Sapochnik's futuristic action thriller won't get even close to recovering its relatively modest $32 million budget – unless, that is, the international market (unlikely) and home video/pay-per-view come to the rescue.
That's more bad news for Universal, whose $100 million Green Zone has thus far grossed an underwhelming $24.7 million, and hasn't been doing all that great overseas either.
March 22 box office actuals: Repo Men drew in $6.12 million over the weekend. Don't be too surprised if by next weekend the action thriller is nowhere to be found on the Top Ten chart.
'She's Out of My League,' 'Green Zone'
Only slightly behind Repo Men, Jim Field Smith's She's Out of My League grossed $6.015 million (down 39 percent). The teen comedy starring Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve averaged a mediocre $2,033 per theater. Its total currently stands at $19.9 million.
The costly Green Zone dropped 58 percent from last weekend, earning $5.9 million and averaging a measly $1,985 per screen – and that's how it fell behind a not very well-received teen comedy with no stars. Total to date: $24.4 million. In a week, Green Zone will quite possibly be gone from the Top Ten chart.
March 22 update: Rounding out the top six movies on the domestic box office chart, Green Zone took in $6.11 million, thus switching places with She's Out of My League, which grossed $5.8 million.
'Avatar' still among Top Ten
At no. 7, Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Michelle Williams, added another $4.7 million (down 42 percent) for a cume of $115.7 million.
'Our Family Wedding' ahead of 'Remember Me'
Our Family Wedding, starring Repo Men actor Forest Whitaker and Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera, grossed more than Robert Pattinson's Remember Me even though it's playing at 600 fewer theaters.
Our Family Wedding raked in $3.8 million (down 51 percent) at no. 9 vs. the $3.3 million earned by Remember Me – which suffered the weekend's second worst drop-off among the top twelve movies: 59 percent.
Most of Robert Pattinson's Twilight Saga fans have clearly opted to stay away from a movie in which their idol gets killed. Or it could be that they only care about Pattinson as the vampire Edward Cullen.
Also in the Remember Me cast:
Rounding out the Top Twelve were:
- Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, toplining Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, with $2.1 million (up 71 percent). (More on The Ghost Writer further below.)
- Antoine Fuqua's Brooklyn's Finest, starring Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke, with $1.6 million (down 63 percent).
Among the weekend's top twelve films, Alice in Wonderland had the highest per-theater average ($9,227) followed by Diary of a Wimpy Kid ($7,085). Brooklyn's Finest had the lowest ($1,281).
Thanks to the addition of 595 screens, The Ghost Writer was the only movie among the holdovers to actually post an increase in revenues. Brooklyn's Finest suffered the steepest drop-off rate.
'The Ghost Writer' goes wider for last time?
As mentioned above, Roman Polanski's thriller The Ghost Writer, winner of the Best Director Silver Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival, earned an estimated $2.1 million at the North American box office this weekend.
Playing at 819 theaters at the start of its fifth week – 595 more venues than last weekend – The Ghost Writer soared in terms of revenues, but disappointed in terms of per-screen average: only $2,564. Unless these screens are all located in really tiny theaters, that probably means the film's expansion will end at those 819 sites.
Polanski's latest has thus far brought in $6.8 million in North America. That's not bad when compared to the director's Oliver Twist ($2.08 million in 2005), but it isn't great, either, especially considering the film's remarkable first couple of weeks and the fact that it has received mostly glowing notices from U.S. critics.
For comparison's sake, the Holocaust drama The Pianist, which earned Polanski the Best Director Oscar, grossed $31.5 million in 2002. The film's star, Adrien Brody, took home that year's Best Actor Oscar.
Roman Polanski movies better appreciated internationally
Like other previous Roman Polanski efforts, The Ghost Writer will likely do much better business overseas. To date, things stand at about 50-50. But bear in mind that Oliver Twist went on to gross more than $40 million internationally, while The Pianist took in $87.5 million.
The tale of a corrupt former British prime minister (based on Tony Blair) with lots of decomposing skeletons in his past, The Ghost Writer stars the following:
Veteran Eli Wallach (Baby Doll, The Misfits).
Limited release: Kristen Stewart-Dakota Fanning biopic disappoints
The Kristen Stewart-Dakota Fanning star vehicle The Runaways, the IMAX documentary Hubble 3D, the Noah Baumbach-Ben Stiller collaboration Greenberg, the Swedish crime thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Raymond De Felitta's comedy City Island, and Marco Bellocchio's historical drama Vincere were the films opening in limited release this weekend in the United States.
Among these, The Runaways posted the highest gross, an estimated $803,000 – but the rock biopic also had the highest number of theaters by far: 244. As a result, its $3,291 per screen average was – also by far – the lowest.
Although not exactly disastrous, The Runaways' average was below par especially for a movie in limited release. It certainly doesn't bode well for the Floria Sigismondi-directed effort, which opens wide in April.
At only 39 screens, Hubble 3D earned $453,000 for an $11,615 average. This particular entry, of course, has been helped by higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices.
'Greenberg' trailing only 'The Ghost Writer' average
At only three screens, Greenberg, the tale of a New Yorker who moves to Los Angeles following a mid-life crisis, grossed an impressive $120,000 for an equally impressive $40,000 per screen average. So far this year, only Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer has opened to better per-screen figures.
Does that mean Greenberg will become a major arthouse hit? Well, not necessarily. After five weeks, The Ghost Writer has taken in $6.8 million even though it's now playing at more than 800 screens. Baumbach's own Margot at the Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jack Black, also opened to a huge per-screen figure ($40,517) only to cume at a paltry $1.9 million back in 2007.
'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' has solid U.S. debut, Marco Bellocchio returns
Starring 2009 European Film Award nominee Noomi Rapace as a computer hacker assisting a disgraced journalist (Michael Nyqvist) crack a decades-old case, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo grossed an impressive $340,000 at 34 screens, averaging a solid $10,000.
City Island, winner of the Audience Award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, took in $35,000 at two screens. Average per screen: $17,500, which is fine but hardly downright amazing for a movie playing at only a couple of screens. The family comedy-drama stars Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine, 2006), TV's The Good Wife actress Julianna Margulies, and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Andy Garcia (The Godfather: Part III, 1990).
At two New York houses, Marco Bellocchio's well-regarded Vincere grossed a passable $18,000, for a $9,000 average. Had it been playing at 50 or 100 screens, that average would have been pretty good. But at only two screens, it's not all that great. A drama about Benito Mussolini's mistress and son, Vincere stars Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Filippo Timi.
'The Bounty Hunter' at no. 2 on Friday: Hit or miss?
March 20 update: According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, Alice in Wonderland grossed $9.9 million at the North America box office on Friday. That's quite a bit more than early reports indicated.
Alice in Wonderland fell a passable 43 percent from last Friday. In past weeks, business has surged on Saturday and has been quite strong on Sunday as well. Expect the same to happen this weekend.
At no. 2, new entry The Bounty Hunter grossed $7.65 million. Weekend estimates for this romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler have placed it at around $20-$25 million. Some may see these figures as disappointing, but they're really not bad at all for a (non-action) movie that has been mostly trashed by reviewers.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid was an unexpected Friday hit. At Box Office Mojo, for instance, Ray Subers foresaw doom and gloom for the kiddie flick. Instead, Diary of a Wimpy Kid earned $7.4 million, right on the heels of the star-powered The Bounty Hunter.
Repo Men was no. 4 with only $2.2 million. Starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, the futuristic action thriller will apparently turn out to be the weekend's major flop.
'Alice in Wonderland' to keep at bay 'The Bounty Hunter,' 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' and 'Repo Men'
March 19: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland will continue to dominate the North American box office on its third weekend out. Considering that it's basically a “children's movie,” grosses should go up noticeably especially on Saturday and Sunday. That's the usual pattern for films geared to kids.
Last week, following a solid but hardly record-breaking Friday, Alice in Wonderland did extraordinary business on the weekend proper, adding nearly $63 million to the fantasy adventure's box office take.
This weekend, Nicole Sperling writes at EW.com that Alice in Wonderland's revenues will likely hover around $35 million, or a decrease of slightly less than 50 percent from a week ago. If so, Burton's most successful film to date (not accounting for inflation or higher 3D/IMAX prices) will probably cross the $300 million mark next weekend.
New entries this weekend include:
- The Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler romantic comedy The Bounty Hunter, which is expected to gross around $20 million despite poor reviews.
- Thor Freudenthal's kiddie flick Diary of a Wimpy Kid, based on Jeff Kinney's bestseller, with a predicted $15 million.
- The Jude Law-Forest Whitaker thriller Repo Men, which should bring in around $10 million – not a great beginning, even for a movie that cost a relatively modest $30 million.
'Twilight' actresses Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning in limited release
Opening in limited release are:
- The Kristen Stewart-Dakota Fanning rock biopic The Runaways, which has earned its lead actresses quite a bit of praise.
- The international Swedish blockbuster The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a crime-horror drama along the lines of The Silence of the Lambs. (Curiously, Stewart has been mentioned in connection with the American remake).
- Noah Baumbach's well-received Greenberg, with Ben Stiller.
Kevin Smith, Jeff Bridges on their way out
Last weekend, studio predictions were somewhat low for Alice in Wonderland and too high for both Matt Damon's Green Zone and Robert Pattinson's Remember Me.
This weekend, Kevin Smith's Cop Out, Breck Eisner's The Crazies, Chris Columbus-Logan Lerman's Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Best Actor Oscar winner Jeff Bridges' Crazy Heart will likely be gone from the Top Twelve.
Gerard Butler The Bounty Hunter image: Barry Wetcher / Columbia Pictures.
Alice Eve and Jay Baruchel She's Out of My League image: Darren Michaels / DreamWorks / Paramount.
Image of Ewan McGregor in the Roman Polanski thriller The Ghost Writer: Guy Farrandis / Summit Entertainment.
Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett in The Runaways: Apparition.
Alice in Wonderland mushroom image: Disney Enterprises.