June 28 update: “Blame me, don’t blame Tom Cruise. We did lots of focus groups for this film, and no one ever said there was a star problem. Never. Tom Cruise was not the issue. I take full responsibility. And if the movie ends up going to $100 million, I want full responsibility too.”
That’s Fox’s co-president of marketing Tony Sella referring to James Mangold’s spy caper Knight and Day, as quoted in Patrick Goldstein’s lengthy article in his Los Angeles Times blog “The Big Picture.”
According to Goldstein, after Knight and Day opened to disappointing figures on Wednesday, many in the media quickly blamed Tom Cruise for the film’s (under)performance.
Within Hollywood circles, however, the blame fell on Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman, “who picked the movie’s title, its release date and micromanaged its marketing campaign, down to approving stills and press kits for the film.”
Fingers were also pointed at Sella, who came out to do some finger-pointing (at himself) as well.
One curious Sella remark is that the initial ads for Knight and Day, showing the silhouettes of Tom Cruise and co-star Cameron Diaz, were an homage to Saul Bass, perhaps the best-known “titles designer” ever in the movie business.
Also interesting is that Goldstein – and a number of other writers – keep insisting that Knight and Day is a “belly flop.” But if a movie that has earned $27 million after five days is a “belly flop” whereas one such as Grown Ups, which grossed $40 million over the weekend, is a hit, then what would be considered an “okay” or a “passable” box office performance?
June 28 morning update: Toy Story 3 collected $59.3 million according to weekend box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo.
This was probably the animated feature’s last weekend at the top of the North American chart, as David Slade’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, opens on Wednesday, and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender opens on Thursday.
At no. 2, Grown Ups, starring Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider, took in $40.5 million, while the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz vehicle Knight and Day scored $20.1 million.
Fox does have two movies among the top five: in addition to The A-Team, there’s Tom Cruise’s Knight and Day. Unfortunately for the studio, both were costly productions that have underperformed domestically despite their high ranking on this weekend’s box office chart. (Sony, on the other hand, has two movies among the top five – The Karate Kid and Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups – that have performed well above expectations.)
According to Hollywood.com, revenues this weekend totaled an estimated $160m, down 20 percent from last year. That was when Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen debuted with $109 million.
Additionally, with $1.7 billion to date, summer revenues are down 5 percent from 2009; attendance is off almost 11 percent.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, starring idols Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner should remedy that situation when it opens next Wednesday.
June 27 afternoon update: Toplining Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, James Mangold’s spy caper Knight and Day collected $20.5 million at no. 3 this weekend, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Knight and Day averaged a just-passable $6,617 per theater.
For comparison’s sake: Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups averaged $11,702 while Jackie Chan’s The Karate Kid, now on its third weekend, averaged $4,118.
Though not exactly an outright flop at the domestic box office – $27.1 million after five days – Cruise’s Knight and Day is undeniably a box office disappointment chiefly because: a) it’s a Tom Cruise action flick b) its $110-$125 price tag.
Now, comparisons to Cruise’s World War II actioner Valkyrie, which opened with $21 million (not adjusted for inflation) in late December 2008 are unfair because that’s one of the busiest times of the year for movies. Also, Knight and Day had already let off some box office steam by opening on a non-holiday Wednesday.
Some have blamed Knight and Day‘s underwhelming performance on Cruise’s Scientology-related shenanigans a few years ago. If so, audiences overseas haven’t been too concerned about Cruise’s views on postpartum depression or his couch-jumping abilities. (Perhaps international moviegoers don’t watch Oprah?)
Valkyrie grossed $117 million abroad (nearly 60 percent of its take), while Mission Impossible III, during the height of the anti-Cruise furor, took in $263 million (more than two-thirds of its total take).
To date, Knight and Day has scored more than $12 million in 12 markets, including number #1 openings in Russia, Taiwan, and South Korea. Things will improve once it opens in more territories – and especially once the World Cup comes to an end in a couple of weeks.
Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Knight and Day
Unless Sunday estimates have been inflated, Grown Ups took in $41 million – another strong opening for Adam Sandler – as per figures found at Box Office Mojo. (Production cost: approx. $80m.)
For comparison’s sake: Among Sandler’s biggest hits (not adjusted for inflation), Anger Management opened with $42 million, The Longest Yard with $47 million, Click with $40m, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with $34 million, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan with $38 million, and Big Daddy with $41 million.
So, following the recent success of The Karate Kid and Toy Story 3, Grown Ups once again proves that – as pundits asserted just a couple of weeks ago – US audiences are tired of sequels, remakes, and derivative plotlines.
In fact, with Grown Ups, director Dennis Dugan, screenwriters Sandler and Fred Wolf, and stars Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph have given moviegoers the fresh, original, high-quality content they’ve been yearning for.
(As an aside: shouldn’t at least a few critics have mentioned that Grown Ups – which has a 10 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes – has quite a bit in common with Mario Monicelli’s 1975 comedy Amici miei / My Friends, which starred Ugo Tognazzi, Adolfo Celi, and Philippe Noiret?)
It should be noted that the revenues of the vast majority of Sandler’s vehicles are for the most part generated domestically. Sandler could hardly be called a major box office draw abroad. Chances are that won’t change with Grown Ups.
June 27 update: Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 was the top movie at the North American box office for the second weekend in a row, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and others, Toy Story 3 earned an estimated $59 million – 46 percent less than a week ago – for a total of $226.5 million (reported production cost: $200m).
According to the Los Angeles Times, Toy Story 3‘s 46 percent drop-off rate is the third-highest ever for a Pixar film and the highest for one that opened in the summer.
Alice in Wonderland fared worse than Toy Story 3 during the week, but kids were still in school when the Burton movie came out. Shrek Forever After had a lower drop-off rate, but its initial weekend take was considerably lower than that of Toy Story 3: $70.8 million vs. $110.2 million.
Additionally, Toy Story 3 has to date earned an estimated $100 million overseas for a grand total of $326.5 million.
June 26 update: As expected, Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 maintained its position at the top of the North American box office on Friday, June 25, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and others, Toy Story 3 grossed $18 million (down 56 percent from last Friday).
With $14.5 million at 3,534 theaters, the low-brow comedy Grown Ups had a surprisingly strong first day, averaging 4,103 per theater. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph star.
What’s surprising is that Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups should score $40 million for the weekend (unless bad word of mouth spreads fast) following a much stronger than expected result on Friday. Grown Ups was a movie that many claimed wasn’t “tracking” at all.
Grown Ups reviews have generally been of the sort “lazy, mean-spirited, incoherent, infantile and, above all, witless” – Stephen Holden in the New York Times.
Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, James Mangold’s spy caper Knight and Day earned $6.35 million, averaging a so-so $2,050 per theater. Early estimates had Knight and Day taking in a stronger than expected $7 million on Friday and $20 million for the weekend. So, perhaps Knight and Day‘s weekend predictions will have to be readjusted – again.
Early estimates had Knight and Day grossing around $25 million. After the film underperformed on Wednesday and Thursday, expectations were lowered considerably.
Ultimately, the $125 million (or whereabouts) action-comedy may end up being much less of box office disappointment than one would have expected as recently as this afternoon. Unless, of course, Knight and Day just as unexpectedly sinks within the week.
June 24: Overall, it was a disappointing Wednesday, June 23, at the North American box office.
Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Laurie Metcalf, and others, though down 11 percent, was once again the no. 1 movie, according to Box Office Mojo. Toy Story 3 collected $13.45 million, which placed it well ahead of new entry Knight and Day.
Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day received unenthusiastic reviews from critics and was just as unenthusiastically received by audiences. The comedy-adventure flick grossed $3.81 million at 3,042 sites, or a disappointing $1,253 per theater.
For comparison’s sake, even Miley Cyrus’ The Last Song, which opened on a Wednesday in late March, earned $5.12 million at 2,673 sites, scoring $1,917 per theater. The Last Song went on to collect $62.5 million domestically. That would be problematic for Knight and Day unless it does exceedingly well overseas (Cruise still has a strong following abroad), as the film’s production costs were in the neighborhood of $125 million.
Those who were expecting Cruise’s latest to take in around $25 million over the weekend will have to readjust their predictions.
Photo: Knight and Day (David James / 20th Century Fox)