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Early Spring Box Office: Hunks in Would-Be Hits

Alex O'Loughlin shirtless The Back-up PlanAlex O’Loughlin in The Back-up Plan. Whether shirtless or donning tightly fitted superhero outfits or metallic body armor, handsome hunks have been everywhere on U.S. screens of late; yet this year’s early spring box office has been mostly flabby.

Early spring box office: Handsome, muscular hunks abound, but their movies’ domestic figures have been on the flaccid side

The spring season in the Northern Hemisphere is near its halfway point. And that means Hollywood’s official summer blockbuster season – which runs from (the United States’) Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend – is about to begin.

Below is an oft-updated glimpse at the commercial performances of several major and not-so-major releases at North America’s (not including Mexico) early spring box office.

One noticeable pattern: Handsome, hunky guys – not infrequently shirtless or in tight clothing – featured in disparate movies that, for various reasons (none related to their male stars’ physique), have underperformed in the domestic market.

Examples: Kellan Lutz in the horror thriller A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alex O’Loughlin in the romantic comedy The Back-up Plan, Aaron Johnson in the superhero parody Kick-Ass, Sam Worthington in the fantasy adventure Clash of the Titans, and Liam Hemsworth in the romantic melodrama The Last Song.

The return of Freddy Krueger & his good-looking victims

Early spring box office – April 30–May 2: Starring Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, 2006) as Freddy Krueger, Warner Bros./New Line Cinema’s A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot grossed $32.9 million (including Thursday midnight screenings) in the domestic market according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

That’s $700,000 more than yesterday’s studio estimates, but $7 million less than some had been predicting for the widely panned horror remake.

Budgeted at a reported $35 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 also features Kyle Gallner, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s Kellan Lutz, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, Katie Cassidy, and Clancy Brown. Samuel Bayer directed.

Directed by Wes Craven, the 1984 original featured Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, in addition to veteran John Saxon (The Reluctant Debutante), Oscar nominee Ronee Blakley (Nashville, 1975), Heather Langenkamp, Jsu Garcia (billed as Nick Corri), and Johnny Depp in his first big-screen role.

Update: As it turned out, A Nightmare on Elm Street earned more than half of its final domestic take – $63.1 million – on its first weekend out. Internationally, it collected $52.6 million, for a worldwide total of $115.7 million.

Hardly blockbuster figures, but one would have thought that was enough cash to lead to a cheapo sequel.

Shirtless Alex O’Loughlin or no, Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy has weak debut

Early spring box office – April 23–25: Starring Jennifer Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin, Alan Poul’s The Back-up Plan debuted with a mere $12.2 million – a hugely disappointing figure for a movie playing at 3,280 theaters. (Per-venue average: A mediocre $3,720.)

Unless the $35 million romantic comedy grows a pair of sturdy back-up legs (awful pun totally intended), it won’t even earn enough at the U.S. and Canada box office to match its production cost. Remember: As a rule of thumb, studios get only about 50-55 percent of a film’s domestic gross.

And that means this past weekend’s true success story was that of DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon, which, after five weekends out, officially topped the domestic box office chart for the first time.

Officially?

How to tally your grosses

Well, the 3D fantasy would have been the box office winner last weekend as well if it weren’t for the fact that Lionsgate found a way to kick Kick-Ass to the no. 1 slot by including the movie’s Thursday night tally to the three-day weekend’s total. (See further below.)

Of course, final tallies would also look quite different if studios reported attendance figures instead of (increasingly) 3D/IMAX-inflated box office grosses. But they don’t.

Anyhow, when How to Train Your Dragon came out, it was considered by some a commercial “disappointment” because of its hefty $165 million budget. Indeed, there’s no way on Earth the animated fantasy adventure will recoup its production cost domestically.

Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, How to Train Your Dragon features the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, and America Ferrera.

Update: Jennifer Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin’s The Back-up Plan flopped both domestically and internationally: $37.5 million and $40 million, respectively. Worldwide total: 77.5 million.

How to Train Your Dragon eventually grossed $217.6 million domestically and $277.3 million internationally. Worldwide total: A remarkable $494.9 million.

Aaron Johnson Kick-AssAaron Johnson in Kick-Ass.

Top spot flip-flop II: Nerd-turned-hero Aaron Johnson’s Kick-Ass is the actual no. 1 – or is it?

Early spring box office – April 16–18: Even though it opened below expectations, Matthew Vaughn’s R-rated, $30 million budget Kick-Ass still managed to top the domestic box office chart this past weekend – admittedly, with the assistance of income from late-night Thursday screenings that U.S. distributor Lionsgate chose to add to the final tally.

The action-packed, expletive-filled superhero parody took in $19.8 million, thus barely edging out DreamWorks Animation’s sturdier than expected How to Train Your Dragon’s $19.6 million. Early weekend estimates had the animated 3D fantasy on top. And in fact, it was on top if only three-day weekend figures are included.

In any case, this is the second such flip-flop in a row: Last week, Date Night seized the domestic box office crown only to have it snatched away the next day by legitimate ruler Clash of the Titans.

”I can’t fly but…”

A couple of comparisons regarding Kick-Ass’ initial gross: In April 2004, Quentin Tarantino’s R-rated Kill Bill: Vol. 2 opened to the tune of $25.1 million (approx. $31 million today). The following year, Robert Rodriguez’s R-rated Sin City opened with $29.1 million (approx. $34 million today).

Depending on the source, Lionsgate acquired Kick-Ass for $15–$25 million. An Anglo-American production, in relative terms the movie has been performing far better in the United Kingdom.

In the cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Oscar winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, 1995), Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, and Aaron Johnson (“I can’t fly, but I can kick your ass”), who recently won the Most Promising Actor Jameson Empire Award for his portrayal of the young John Lennon in Sam Taylor-Wood’s Nowhere Boy.

Update: Kick-Ass ultimately grossed $16.8 million in the U.K.

In the U.S. and Canada, it collected $48.1 million. Its worldwide total was $96.2 million.

Top spot flip-flop: 3D epic fantasy Clash of the Titans once again no. 1

Early spring box office – April 9–11: Starring Avatar‘s Sam Worthington, Louis Leterrier’s fantasy epic Clash of the Titans turned out to be the no. 1 movie on the domestic box office chart for the second weekend in a row.

Early studio estimates had the Steve Carell-Tina Fey comedy Date Night on top. But no. Clash of the Titans grossed $26.6 million (down 56 percent), while Date Night took in $25.2 million (about $2 million less than studio estimates indicated). Date Night, however, still managed to retain the highest per-screen average among the Top Twelve films: A passable $7,471.

Clash of the Titans will likely reach the $150 million milestone in the U.S. and Canada, but it’ll have a whole lot of trouble reaching $200 million. The overseas market is the great box office hope for this Warner Bros. release.

Directed by Shaw Levy, Date Night also features Oscar nominees Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, 2006) and Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008), plus Jimmi Simpson, Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Common, and Gal Gadot.

Sam Worthington Clash of the TitansSam Worthington in Clash of the Titans.

Sam Worthington’s biceps notwithstanding, Clash of the Titans leaves box office gods underwhelmed

Early spring box office – April 2–4: Starring Avatar hero Sam Worthington as the demigod Perseus, Louis Leterrier’s Warner Bros.-distributed Clash of the Titans grossed $61.2 million over the Easter Weekend. Once its $2.7 million Thursday night take is added, the fantasy adventure set in ancient Greece has reached a total of $63.9 million – about 52 percent of which from 3D screens.

Just bear in mind that higher 3D ticket prices – and let’s not forget last week’s across-the-board (up to 25 percent) movie ticket price hike – helped this (reportedly) $165 million production reach these figures even if actual attendance numbers may have left the demanding Greek gods somewhat underwhelmed.

For comparison’s sake: This past weekend, Clash of the Titans took in $16,212 per theater. On its opening weekend last March – when ticket prices were lower than today – Tim Burton’s 3D fantasy adventure Alice in Wonderland grossed $31,143 per venue, while last December James Cameron’s 3D futuristic adventure Avatar boasted a $22,313 average.

3D downside

The good news for Clash of the Titans and Warner Bros. is that this sort of release is all but critic-proof. That means Kenneth Turan’s appraisal in the Los Angeles Times – “When the most thrilling thing about a film turns out to be its title, even unleashing the Kraken won’t be payoff enough” – will likely not result in (m)any sleepless nights.

Having said that, Warners and director Leterrier will probably have to worry about another Turan complaint: “It’s doubtful that records are kept about this sort of thing, but consider the possibility that Clash of the Titans is the first film to actually be made worse by being in 3-D.”

In addition to Sam Worthington, the cast includes Oscar nominees Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Pete Postlethwaite, and Elizabeth McGovern, plus Gemma Arterton, Nicholas Hoult, Alexa Davalos, Liam Cunningham, Ian Whyte, Jason Flemyng, and Mads Mikkelsen.

Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Desmond Davis’ 1981 Clash of the Titans featured Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Susan Fleetwood, Tim Pigott-Smith and veterans Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Burgess Meredith, Flora Robson, Sian Phillips, Freda Jackson, and Donald Houston.

Update: Clash of the Titans ultimately collected $163.2 million domestically and a whopping $330 million internationally, for a worldwide grand total of $493.2 million. That explains the 2012 sequel Wrath of the Titans.

Clash of the Titans’ top international markets were the United Kingdom ($29.2 million), Russia/CIS ($24.6 million), Mexico ($20.5 million), France ($19.3 million), and South Korea ($19.2 million).

Tyler Perry flick has strong debut

Also on their first weekend out were Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too and the Miley Cyrus-Liam Hemsworth romantic melodrama The Last Song.

Featuring Perry, Janet Jackson, Sharon Leal, and Michael Jai White, the Lionsgate-distributed Why Did I Get Married Too earned $29.2 million (about $5–$10 million above expectations) at no. 2. That’s a solid opening for this comedy-drama currently playing at 2,155 locations – $13,991 per theater without the assistance of 3D-inflated ticket prices.

For comparison’s sake: The poorly received 2007 original Why Did I Get Married, featuring many of the actors found in the sequel, opened with $21.3 million, eventually reaching $55.2 million domestically (and less than $1 million internationally).

On the downside, the sequel wasn’t even screened for most critics. Not a good sign.

Update: As expected, Why Did I Get Married Too plummeted (down 62 percent) on weekend no. 2. It eventually took in $60.1 million domestically and, like other Tyler Perry movies (if they get any screenings at all), less than $1 million (a measly $578,000) internationally.

The Last Song Liam Hemsworth Miley CyrusThe Last Song with Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus.

Miley Cyrus & hunk Liam Hemsworth romance at lower end of expectations

At no. 4 (also trailing How to Train Your Dragon), the Walt Disney Studios’ The Last Song brought in $16 million from 2,673 locations, landing it at the lower end of expectations.

Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel and co-starring Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear (As Good as It Gets, 1997), The Last Song earned $25.4 million on its first five days. That may not be too bad for a (reportedly) $20 million production, but it’s hardly a figure worth celebrating.

For comparison’s sake: In February, Lasse Hallström’s Dear John, another melodramatic romance based on a Sparks novel (and featuring a similar poster), opened with $30.3 million (first three days). Starring Amanda Seyfried and a shirtless Channing Tatum, Dear John went on to gross $79.4 million at the U.S. and Canada box office. Despite Liam Hemsworth also going shirtless, prospects for The Last Song are considerably humbler.

Lastly, a brief remark about Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, a $14 million psychological mystery drama that – notwithstanding the presence of the aforementioned Amanda Seyfried, Julianne Moore, and Liam Neeson – has raked in a mere $1.8 million domestically in the last 10 days. Also in the cast: Max Thieriot and Nina Dobrev.

Update: The Last Song eventually reached a modest – but likely profitable – $63 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to a far more modest $26.2 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $89.1 million.

Chloe’s domestic total reached $3.1 million. Internationally, it took in $10.6 million, for a worldwide total of $13.7 million.


“Early Spring Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Early Spring Box Office: Hunks in Would-Be Hits” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via various sources, including BOM.

Comments about a movie being profitable or a money-loser at the box office are based on the available data about its production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production budget), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that contractual details and data regarding pre-sales, rebates, and other credits that help to split/alleviate production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is accounted for).

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office gross at top-priced theaters.

Alex O’Loughlin The Back-Up Plan movie image: CBS Films.

Aaron Johnson Kick-Ass movie image: Dan Smith | Marv Films | Lionsgate.

Sam Worthington Clash of the Titans 2010 movie image: Warner Bros.

Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus The Last Song image: Walt Disney Pictures.

“Early Spring Box Office: Hunks in Would-Be Hits” last updated in April 2022.

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25 comments

moviegoer2010 -

I went to see Why Did I Get Married Too, I thought it was a great movie. It was full of laughs and there was a great play on emotions in this movie as well. To combine to two I think is a great way to keep the audience engaged because you don’t know what emotion is gonna be displayed next. Especially Janet Jackson this film allowed her to have a breakthrough on the big screen. I give it 2thumbs up!

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Erika P -

So far as of yesterday 4/2/2010 The Last Song has made $16,488,000 pretty sure by the end of Sunday Miley’s movie will atleast make 24+ million

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Connie -

The Backup Plan was a disappointing romantic comedy that was not worth the price of my movie ticket. I can see why it got such terrible reviews.

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neil -

Michelle Hutton, could you be any more obvious and annoying with your Elm Street hate??

Even if it’s down 270% it is still a successful movie. Period, end of story.

Now move on.

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Rusty -

Life is rough, it’s just great relaxation to see Jennifer fall in love with Alex (Zoe and Stan).

If I wanted to think hard, I’d read or take a night class….I need to escape and enjoy an evening watching a very handsome Alex O’Loughlin (STAN) woo JLo (Zoe)

Yeah for the Back Up Plan!

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MichaelC2B -

I loved The Back-Up Plan - I have seen it several times and can’t wait for the DVD to come out. You just can’t go wrong with Alex O!

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Angela -

I really hope that “Harry Brown” is going to open wider. I saw the trailer when I went to see “Chloe” and I was amazed by what Michael Caine could do!

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Brandy -

The new version of Nightmare on Elm Street was a poor rip off from the original. I went in expecting to see a prequel of sorts and instead watched a butched movie of the original. After 8 films they actually had the nerve to change him from a child murderer to a child molester. WHY???? Outside of a few tweaks her and there from the original it was not at all impressive. With the CGI and special effects available I expected to see something that would at least make me jump. Instead it was a poor remake of the original.

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Chad -

‘Nightmare’ was GOD-AWFUL. Can hardly wait to see what the drop-off is for next week. Really, really hoping for a ‘Friday the 13th’-level drop in tickets. SO much hate for this movie. And it deserves every bit of it.

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suzanne faith -

I AM THRILLED ALEX’S NUMBERS ARE GOING UP FOR THE bACK UP PLAN…HE WON’T NEED ANY “BACK UP” WHEN CBS DOES THEIR THING AND PUTS HIM IN THE REAL LIMELIGHT WITH HAWAII FIVE 0. HE WILL REALLY SHINE IN A DRAMA LIKE THAT WHERE HE CAN BE ALL MASCULINE AND SEXY WITH HELP FROM NO ONE. I DO, HOWEVER, THANK OLE JEN FOR GIVING HIM HIS FIRST BIG SCEEN OPPORTUNITY. (CAN’T COUNT LOSER LIKE WHITEOUT….UGH) PLEASE ALEX, GAIN WEIGHT, GET A GOOD TAN TO SHOW OFF THOSE BEAUTIFUL BLUE/GREEN EYES (WITH SUNSCREEN OF COURSE) AND GROW THAT THICK GORGEOUS HAIR LONGER!!! YUM YUM SUZANNE YOUR FOREVER FAN

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Crystal Bowersox -

It seems that JLo wants to team up with all the newest hunks around… :D

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Clara -

So far this year The Runaways is the best movie that no one has seen yet. Anyone associated with the making of The Backup Plan should be banned from Hollywood. My sister wanted a night away from ehr kids so we went to see it. As a woman I was offended. Is this what Hollywood wants us to watch? The Backup Plan and The Bounty Hunter should sweep next years Razzies.

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Eveann -

i love the back-up Plan … because of Alex O’Loughlin , great actor!

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Jed -

You guys realize that Variety characterized Clash’s midweek box office as “strong,” right? Are they wrong? It seems you have a chip on your shoulder about this title.

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mh -

>>>>>>>>>>>>>You guys realize that Variety characterized Clash’s midweek box office as “strong,” right? Are they wrong? It seems you have a chip on your shoulder about this title.

CLASH OF THE TITANS lost about 36% of its box-office revenues in three days — Monday to Thur. Among the top movies on the box-office chart, only Tyler Perry’s WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO fared worse.
And that’s ‘strong’?

Do they also think the 68% drop-off on Friday showed CLASH OF THE TITANS’ box-office strength??

Que Viva Variety!!

CotT per-screen average
On Monday: $1,693.
On Thursday: $1,077.

For comparison’s sake (per-screen average):

How to Train Your Dragon (mon-thu, 1st wk):
$1,187 - $1,293

Alice in Wonderland (mon-thu, 1st wk):
$2,416 - $1,815

Shutter Island (mon-thu, 1st wk):
$1,116 - $899

Avatar (mon-thu, **3rd** wk):
$2,339 - $1,761

And don’t forget. Ticket prices went up a week or so before CLASH OF THE TITANS opened.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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Jameszina Ellis -

TYLER PERRY IS AWSOME.

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Jameszina Ellis -

JANET JACKSON TURNED IT OUT . SHE WAS AWSOME. JANET IS THE TRUE QUEEN. GO JANET!!!!!!! AND THE REST OF THE CAST WAS WONDERFUL. I LOVED THE MOVIE.

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pinkdoll -

WHY DID I GET MARRIED, Was a GREAT GREAT movie. It’s was FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY and very good. I don’t understand why they don’t give him Oscars, he has the best movies right now.

The movie is Funny and heartbreaking Go see it.

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Jack -

“Chloe” fared ‘worse’? The movie’s grosses only dropped 35.2% from last week. (great hold for a film that received a lot of very bad reviews)

It is true that “Chloe” is cost $15 million to make. But Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group only paid ‘low-seven-figure’ to acquire the movie’s US rights. And StudioCanal (a French company which fully financed this movie) had already made its budget back via international pre-sales.
thewrap.com/article/sony-picks-egoyans-chloe-8453

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mh -

It’s true that “Chloe” had a perfectly acceptable mid-level decrease from the previous week, but it *still* fared worse than “Greenberg.”

“Greenberg” dropped by 27.3%, after a good (though not outstanding) first weekend in limited release.

“Chloe” had a mediocre first weekend in North America: 900K, a paltry $2,573 per screen average.

Perhaps Sony Pictures and StudioCanal won’t lose money on the film, but unless “Chloe” performs amazingly well overseas, **someone somewhere** will.

Overseas figures are incomplete, but by mid-March “Chloe” had grossed only $2.8 million in seven major/mid-size markets as per Box Office Mojo.
boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=chloe.htm

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Jack -

“Greenberg” gets much more positive reviews than “Chloe”. “Greenberg” also clearly has much bigger marketing cost than “Chloe”. (On many newspapers, the prints ads of “Greenberg” are clearly much bigger than “Chloe”) Of course, Focus has the worldwide rights of “Greenberg”, so it would put more effort to support the movie. I don’t know how much “Greenberg” was cost to make, beside the fact that Ben Stiller was paid $6 million to do this movie.

You are right that “Chloe” isn’t doing very well at overseas box office. But I thought that altfg.com’s box office report is only about US box office, so the overseas box office wouldn’t be relevant. It looks like I am wrong.

Based on the business model of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group, the US box office performance of “Chloe” is actually acceptable, if not excellent. The Sony group tends to buy indie films primarily for ancillary markets, but with small theatrical commitments in sometime (like whay Image and Anchor Bay are doing). Even the indie sellers had called the Sony group as super-ancillaries.
blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/2009/09/01/fall_season_feast_and_famine

And “Chloe” is a softcore porn, which tend to overperform in ancillary markets. (Even terrible movies like “Color of Night” and “Showgirls” did so)

Reply
mh -

>>>>>> I don’t know how much “Greenberg” was cost to make, beside the fact that Ben Stiller was paid $6 million to do this movie.

Perhaps Ben Stiller was way overpaid for this one.

>>>>>>>>Based on the business model of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group, the US box office performance of “Chloe” is actually acceptable, if not excellent. …

Well, that’s usually the way it goes for films with “adult” themes. They do much better on DVD/ pay per view, etc.

As I said, it’s perfectly possible that Sony Pictures Classics will make money off of “Chloe.” I’m just not sure what the terms of the contract are — or how much they spent marketing and distributing the film.

Will SPC give a percentage of its earnings, whether at the box-office or via ancillary venues, to the producing companies? If so, how much?

That may eventually determine Sony’s profits or lack thereof.

Reply
Jack -

Still, $6 million salary is a huge pay cut for Ben Stiller (who usually gets $20 million salary per movie).

SPC is famous for not overspending on marketing, so I guess the marketing cost of “Chloe” would be very modest. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group and SPC decided to do the US release of “Chloe” after the movie got many bad reviews from US critics (at Toronto Film Festival), so they definitely knew what the movie was and they would spend the P&A cost accordingly. (On the other hand, almost all of overseas distributors acquired this movie even before it was finished; it may be because StudioCanal began to sell this movie to distributors right after the US box office success of “Taken”)

In this case, I think Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group and SPC will make a lot of profit (especially I think “Chloe” will be a HUGE dvd/blu-ray title). StudioCanal is already making profit on this movie. But some overseas distributors are going to lose money.

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Angela -

I went to see “Chloe” this weekend. I have to say that this movie is waaaay better than Atom Egoyan’s perivous work “Where the Truth Lies”. And this movie actually manages to make Toronto (the filming location) looks beautiful and European! I never thought about city that way. But there should be a way to make Amanda Seyfried’s character appears to be more creepy. Still a very flawed movie. I was hoping for better.

Speaking of “Chloe”, I read somewhere saying that this movie has already made its budget back by international pre-sales. How does that work?

Reply
peanuts -

I’ve seen Clash Of The Titnans in 3D and it looks terrible. Word is getting around fast.

Reply

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