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'Sucker Punch' Plunges, Censored 'The King's Speech' Bombs

Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan in Duncan Jones' Source Code
Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan in Duncan Jones' Source Code

Hop, about James Marsden and the Easter Bunny's teenage son's attempt to save Easter, easily topped the North American box office on the first weekend of April (1-3). Directed by Tim Hill, and featuring Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Kaley Cuoco, David Hasselhoff (as himself), and the voices of Russell Brand and Hugh Laurie, Hop grossed $38.11 million at 3,579 locations, averaging a solid $10,650 per theater according to Box Office Mojo. Hop cost a reported $63 million.

Rotten Tomatoes' top critics gave Hop a mere 25 percent approval rating, which makes Mars Needs Moms' dismal box office figures all the more puzzling. Parents will clearly take their kids to watch all kinds of crap; perhaps it's all about how that crap is packaged and sold.

At no. 2, Duncan Jones' adult mystery drama Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, earned $15.05 million at 2,961 sites. Despite mostly positive reviews – 85 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics – Source Code's per-theater average was a disappointing $5,084, or less than half that of Hop. The good news is that this Summit Entertainment release had a relatively low budget, $32 million.

Moral of the box office story: If you make them dumb, they'll come and bring their kids and grandparents. Try to make something different and – unless you're Christopher Nolan – they'll stay home playing video games or watching college football or some such.

At no. 3, James Wan's Insidious, produced by Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli, opened a little behind Source Code, taking in $13.49 million at 2,408 locations, averaging $5,605 per site. Among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics, Insidious has a mediocre 56 percent approval rating. The horror drama features Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey.

If reports are correct, Insidious cost a mere $800,000 to produce, though its marketing campaign surely added millions to that amount. Paranormal Activity 2, for instance, cost very little to make but quite a bit to market.

Photo: Source Code (Jonathan Wenk / Summit Entertainment)

Vanessa Hudgens, Sucker Punch
Vanessa Hudgens in Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch

Down three spots from its top position last weekend, David Bowers' Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was the no. 4 movie this April 1-3 weekend, collecting $10.2 million – down a hefty down 57 percent – according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Total: $38.35 million. Cost: $21 million.

At no. 5, Neil Burger's thriller Limitless (-37.5 percent), starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, and Robert De Niro, grossed $9.4 million. Total: $55.6 million. Worldwide: 69.9 million. Cost: $27 million.

This weekend, Limitless not only passed the $50 million milestone, but it has also earned back its production costs (not including marketing/distribution expenses) at the domestic box office. That's more unusual than one might think.

In fact, except for Insidious, which had a ridiculously low budget (money was spent marketing the horror flick instead), Limitless is the only film on the top-twelve chart to have “recovered” its production budget at the domestic box office. (On average, studios keep about 50 percent of a film's gross. Of course, oftentimes production companies/distributors come up with different deals, e.g., foreign pre-sales, and tax breaks that help cover budgetary costs even before the movie is actually released.)

Matthew McConaughey's The Lincoln Lawyer (-34.5 percent), featuring Ryan Phillippe and Marisa Tomei, was next at no. 6, with $7.05 million. Total: $39.63 million. Worldwide: 40.73 million. Cost: $40 million.

Down five spots at no. 7, Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, which features Abbie Cornish, Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jena Malone, pulled in $6.08 million – down a whopping down 68 percent. Total: $29.87 million. Worldwide: 36.37 million. Cost: $82 million. Not that they haven't known it for a while, but with Sucker Punch Warner Bros. has a sizable box office flop in its hands.

At no. 8, Gore Verbinski's Rango (-53 percent), featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, and Abigail Breslin, drew $4.56 million. Total: $113.78 million. Worldwide: 208.98 million. Cost: $135 million.

Rounding out the top twelve were:

  • Simon Pegg-Nick Frost's Paul with $4.33 million (down 45 percent). Total: $31.93 million. Worldwide: 62.72 million. Cost: $40 million.
  • Aaron Eckhart's Battle: Los Angeles with $3.5 million (down 54 percent). Total: $78.46 million. Worldwide: 158.1 million. Cost: $70 million.
  • Matt Damon-Emily Blunt's The Adjustment Bureau with $2.2 million (down 48.5 percent). Total: $58.59 million. Worldwide: 98.18 million. Cost: $50 million.
  • Amanda Seyfried-Gary Oldman's Red Riding Hood with $1.81 million (down 58 percent). Total: $35.63 million. Worldwide: 46.83 million. Cost: $42 million.

Gone from the top twelve were the Robert Zemeckis-produced animated 3D feature Mars Needs Moms (down 85 percent and no longer even among the top twenty), Owen Wilson-Jason Sudeikis' Hall Pass, Alex Pettyfer-Vanessa Hudgens' Beastly.

Among the top-twelve movies, Hop had by far the highest per-theater average, $10,650. Next in line was Insidious, with $5,605. Red Riding Hood had the lowest, $1,015.

Also among the top-twelve (barring new entries Hop, Source Code, and Insidious), The Lincoln Lawyer posted the lowest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down 34.5 percent, followed by Limitless with down 37.5 percent. All other top-twelve holdovers lost more than 40 percent of their revenues compared to last weekend, with Sucker Punch posting the steepest loss, down 68 percent.

Photo: Sucker Punch (Clay Enos / Warner Bros.)

Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre, Rochester
Michael Fassbender as Rochester in Cary Joji Fukunaga's Jane Eyre

The censored, “family-friendly,” PG-13 version of Tom Hooper's The King's Speech opened with $1.19 million at 1,011 theaters, averaging a paltry $1,181 per site according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Perhaps that's because North American “families” don't care about Oscar winners; they'd much rather go see Easter bunnies talking with Russell Brand's voice.

For comparison's sake: last weekend, the original The King's Speech – that's the one with all the “fuck” exclamations – collected $1.55 million at 1,062 theaters, averaging $1,467 per site. The Weinstein Co. release stars Oscar winner Colin Firth, who has spoken vehemently against the censored version, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, and Claire Bloom.

Meanwhile, the Cary Joji Fukunaga-directed Jane Eyre, starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, continued to perform well – though not quite as impressively as before.

Despite doubling the number of theaters from 90 to 180, Jane Eyre was up only 27.5 percent this weekend, earning $1.23 million at no. 13 on the North American box office chart. As a result, its per-theater average dropped from $10,778 to $6,872; for a movie in limited release, that isn't exactly a huge number. Although there's still room for further expansion, how far that expansion will go remains to be seen.

To date, Jane Eyre, distributed by Focus Features, has collected $3.5 million domestically.

Photo: Jane Eyre (Laurie Sparham / Focus Features)

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