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Memorial Day to Forget: Worst Box Office in Two Decades?

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City 2
Sex and the City 2 with Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker.

June 1 update: In North America, Shrek Forever After was the top movie of one of the weakest Memorial Day weekends in the last two decades. The 3D animated fantasy grossed $57.06 million from Friday-Monday – about $1.5 million above studio estimates – according to Box Office Mojo.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time landed in second place with $37.8 million.

Sex and the City 2, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis, was next with $36.8 million.

Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 2 earned $21 million at no. 4, followed by Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood with $13.4 million.

Letters to Juliet, starring Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan, and Vanessa Redgrave, was the no. 6 movie with $7.4 million. Next was Queen Latifah’s Just Wright with $2.8 million, followed by Tina Fey and Steve Carell’s Date Night with $2.3 million.

Rounding out the top twelve were Ryan Phillippe’s MacGruber with $2 million, Gerard Butler’s How to Train Your Dragon with $1.5 million, Thomas Dekker’s A Nightmare on Elm Street with $1.1 million, and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, back among the top twelve, with $730k.

May 31 update

Shrek Forever After is by far the top movie of the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend in North America (of course, Memorial Day is not a holiday in Canada), grossing an estimated $55.725 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

But as far as Hollywood is concerned, what’ll make this Memorial Day weekend memorable are its dismal box office results: the lowest in 9 years in unadjusted dollar amounts ($186m) and the lowest in 17 years in actual number of tickets sold according to Hollywood.com.

Needless to say, both Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time underperformed; the former possibly landing in third place with $37.145 million (pundits had been predicting grosses as high as $45m) and the latter (possibly) in second place with $37.8 million (a couple of million less than the expected $40m). Bear in mind that those two movies could easily switch their positions on the box office chart once final figures are announced Tuesday.

Directed by Michael Patrick King, Sex and the City 2 stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis. Directed by Mike Newell, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley.

Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 2 earned $20.6 million at no. 4, followed by Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood with $13.6 million.

May 30 update

Partly as a result of higher ticket prices for 3D movies – and the fact that children can’t go to the movies without their parents or some other adult(s) – Shrek Forever After, as expected, regained the top spot at the North American box office this holiday weekend, possibly the weakest in a decade, after falling behind Sex and the City 2 for two consecutive days (Thu. & Fri.).

According to studios’ estimates (up to Sunday) found at Box Office Mojo, Shrek Forever After‘s weekend grosses should total $43.34 million, a 38.8 percent drop from last week. That doesn’t sound bad, especially when compared to, say, Shrek the Third, which dropped 56.4 percent on its second (Memorial Day) weekend three years ago. (Though that Shrek debuted with $121.6 million vs. Shrek Forever After‘s $70.8m.)

To date, Shrek Forever After has taken in $133 million. (Cost: $165 million.)

Perhaps the bad reviews or bad word of mouth – or a combination of both – caught up with Sex and the City 2 on the weekend proper. Michael Patrick King’s widely panned comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis, was down 22.6 percent Saturday and is expected to lose another 10 percent Sunday, falling behind Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time on both days.

As per studio estimates, Sex and the City 2‘s grosses will total $32.1 million over the three-day weekend, for a cume of $46.3 million after four days. At this point, it looks unlikely that the Sex and the City sequel (cost: $100m) will match the $45 million some had predicted for the four-day Memorial Day weekend.

Two years ago, when movie ticket prices were about 10-15 percent cheaper, the original opened with $57 million at the end of May (the weekend after Memorial Day).

At no. 3, the costly ($200 million or so, according to reports) Jerry Bruckheimer production Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, directed by Mike Newell, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley, debuted with a soft $30.7 million at 3,646 theaters.

For comparison’s sake, Robin Hood, another $200 million production, opened with $37 million at 3,503 sites a couple of weeks ago – on a non-holiday weekend. And that Ridley Scott period adventure has underperformed the domestic box office ($83 million after 17 days), which means things don’t look too good for Prince of Persia.

Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 2 earned $16 million at no. 4. This is another sequel that may end up faring worse at the box office than the original. To date, the generally dismissed sci-fier/actioner has taken in a total of $274 million. Having said that, it could still surpass the original’s $318.4 million, at least partly thanks to higher ticket prices.

May 29 early morning

Mostly rotten reviews notwithstanding, including accusations of insensitivity, bigotry, hypocrisy, cultural arrogance, and – most damning of all – tediousness, Sex and the City 2 performed remarkably well on Thursday, May 27, topping the North American box office with a solid $14.2 million at 3,445 theaters, according to Box Office Mojo. That includes about $3 million from Wednesday midnight screenings. Sex and the City 2 is expected to gross another $45 million over the Memorial Day weekend.

Directed and written by Michael Patrick King, Sex and the City 2 stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis as the four Big City Women whose gender-related problems are nothing compared to what Muslim women have to go through.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is this weekend’s other major newcomer. The (reportedly) $200 million production is expected to take in $40 million domestically by Monday – not the greatest sign for its box office longevity and profitability. Prince of Persia, which, like Sex and the City 2, was shot in Morocco, opened to a disappointing $18 million overseas last weekend.

Back to this past Thursday, Shrek Forever After was demoted to the no. 2 spot a mere six days after its debut, taking in $4.41 million. Shrek, however, may return to the top spot on the weekend.

At no. 3, Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 2 earned $1.84 million, followed by Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood with $1.54 million.

May 25 update

Internationally, Mike Newell’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which opens in North America this Friday, took in a disappointing $18 million in 19 territories. Spain was the top market for Prince of Persia, but $3 million on an opening weekend would hardly turn the videogame-based flick starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley, into a local blockbuster.

For comparison’s sake, Hrithik Roshan’s Kites, a $20 million production distributed by Reliance Big Pictures, grossed $14 million worldwide. It opened in the US at 208 screens, grossing nearly $1 million.

Curiously, Kites is Bollywood set in North America (the romantic action-thriller was shot in the US), nearly taking over Hollywood set in Asia.

Studios have blamed unseasonably warm weather for a major drop in movie attendance throughout Europe.

It’s unclear who or what will be blamed if Prince of Persia – which was to have been released last year – underperforms at the domestic box office next weekend. But Jake Gyllenhaal’s skin color shouldn’t be an issue. Ancient Persians, after all, were Aryans.

Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood retained the no. 1 spot at the international box office despite losing 60 percent of its audience on its second weekend. The $30 million generated overseas catapulted Ridley Scott’s period adventure to a total of $125 million.

That’s not bad, but considering Robin Hood‘s $200 million+ cost in addition to millions more spent on marketing and distribution worldwide, Universal may have some trouble recovering its hefty investment. Domestically, Robin Hood has grossed only $68 million up to Monday. (Generally speaking, studios keep about half of a film’s box office gross.)

Shrek Forever After, which topped the North American box office this past weekend, grossed $26 million at no. 2 overseas.

May 24 update

Shrek Forever After topped the U.S. and Canada’s weekend box office chart, grossing about $400,000 less than Sunday’s studio estimates: $70.8 million – at the lower end of expectations for DreamWorks Animation’s $165 million production – according to Box Office Mojo.

Shrek Forever After features the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Eddie Murphy, Julie Andrews, Jane Lynch, and Jon Hamm, among others.

Starring Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori, and directed by Anurag Basu, the new entry Kites landed at no. 10, with $958,000 (or about $100,000 less than Sunday’s estimates). Kites averaged a passable $4,609 at 208 theaters.

Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 2 collected $26.3 million (down 49 percent from a week ago; total: $251 million) at no. 2, followed by Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood with $18.7 million (down 48 percent; total $66 million). It’s a good thing for Universal that their $200m+ period epic is doing much better overseas.

May 23 update

Shrek Forever After topped North America’s weekend box office chart, grossing an estimated $71.25 million – at the lower end of expectations for DreamWorks Animation’s $165 million production – according to figures found at Box Office Mojo.

Featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, and Jon Hamm, among others, Shrek Forever After opened at 4,359 theaters. Despite higher ticket prices and 3D/IMAX surcharges, it fared much worse than previous Shrek sequels, both of which took in more than $100 million on their debut weekends.

Starring Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 grossed an estimated $26.6 million (down 48.9 percent from a week ago; total: $251m) at no. 2, followed by Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood with $18.7 million (down 48.1 percent; total $66m).

May 22

Shrek Forever After topped the box office chart in North America on Friday, grossing an estimated $20.75, according to Box Office Mojo.

Featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas and Julie Andrews, among others, Shrek Forever After opened at 4,359 theaters. Despite higher ticket prices and 3D/IMAX surcharges, the expected weekend total (unless there’s a major attendance surge today and Sunday) is hovering around $70 million. Both previous Shrek sequels took in more than $100 million on their debut weekends.

Both previous Shrek sequels took in more than $100 million on their debut weekends.


Sex and the City 2 images: Craig Blankenhorn / New Line / Warner Bros.

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18 comments

Sia -

I’m excited for Eclipse and I plan on watching it 4 times that week !

Reply
Angela -

I feel extremely offended by The Karate Kid’s trailer! I don’t think it presents the Chinese people fairly. I might be bais because I’m ethnic Chinese (I’m Canadian); but I think I can speak for the majority of the Chinese people that most of us don’t know kungfu, nor we see it as a way to solve our problems. I really believe that Jackie Chan made a mistake in agreeing to do this movie, and I sincerely hope that this movie flops in the box office.

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Boo Boo -

YOU GO MYRON-A! Love you!

Reply
Muhammad Talha -

prince of persia sands of time 2010 should be a big hit movie of the year, i dont know the reason that why this gross is only upto $300 million , this should be $1000 million, prince of persia sands of time 2010 is the movie of the year 2010 , awesome movie

Reply
ricard -

These hollywood numbnuts never learn. Movies based on video games will NEVER make a good transition to the big screen!

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Philip -

Don’t know where this guy gets his info but his educated guess is wrong. As of June 6 PoP just made $156,000,000 overseas and $59,000,000 in the US.

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Seanjay -

“Prince of Persia, The Sands of Time” was probably one of the movies which turned my disappointment other way around. To be honest when I entered the cinema I was expecting crappy story and not a lot of action. Those expectations were destroyed when the movie started to with back story to prince and then a battle scene. The battle scene was made in really awesome way and I was left pleased. Through out the whole story it was just ups and downs, they didn’t leave the watcher waiting for action or any other events for long, since the action scene just kept on coming on and on. The ending was pretty interesting and it wasn’t another misleading and disappointing story. I just loved it.

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suzycreamcheese -

I don’t get what the big deal is about. Have ya SEEN the price of tickets?

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Desi -

That makes sense. The mom’s took their brood to see shrek and now they are going to see satc 2 with their bf’s and husbands. This is the type of movie that will probably build momentum and have a steady audience throughout the summer.
Chick flicks are not like other films that make a huge splash the first weekend and then Peter out.
It will probably make a lot of $$$ since it is less expensive to produce (95 million as opposed to pop, which cost 200 million to make) and has more longevity amongst it’s target audience.

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Pats -

How is “MacGruber” Ryan Phillippe’s? Wasn’t he a supporting player…and a darn good one too. This was Will Forte and Jorma Taccone’s “MacGruber.”

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uneek -

WELL I LIKED IT.

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Omololu -

this movie was the best movie i’ve seen in my life..very intersesting.
i hope t does well

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Myron Gilley -

Shrek forever is the worst movie I have ever seen for children, took my two grandkids and walked out after 20 minutes. Dep dark and not a movie for kids or family.

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LeeCarl -

@zac, all false information from the producers to prop up a flop movie. Kites/Kites-Remix is the most expensive Indian movie ever at 150 crores (about $30 mil).

bollywoodhungama.com/trade/overseas_boxoffice/index.html

bollywoodhungama.com/trade/business_talk/index.html

blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/05/25/kites-begins-box-office-dive-in-india/

These reports reflect fact not fiction. The movie is a big flop and distributors wil suffer major losses.

Reply
zac -

blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/05/25/kites-begins-box-office-dive-in-india/

$7.1m on its debut weekend in India means “Kites” was a flop? It has apparently taken a dive and it may have performed below expectations, but its weekend numbers weren’t poor (2nd ever in that country?)

movies.indiatimes.com/Movies/Box-Office/Kites-first-Bollywood-film-in-US-Top-10/articleshow/5968367.cms

According to the “India Times” piece, the worldwide take was three times that of India’s.

Other sources (re: $14m worldwide):

Agence France Presse:
google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jXJqrofR1AUxhRp_hBkbkcHn3ing

magnamags.com/index.php/201005256267/stardust/scoop-of-the-day/hrithik-roshan-kites-fetches-14-million-dollar-in-first-weekend.html

Reply
LeeCarl -

Someone gave you bad information. Kites did not gross $14 mil worldwide. It is a flop in India and overseas.

Kites Underperforms in Overseas.

Kites underperformed in the overseas markets. The weekend business was in the $2.60 million region (12 crore). This can be called fair business but as Kites had a huge release it is not up to the mark. The business from major markets is as follows.

UK – £273,958 includes paid previews

North America – $958,773

Middle East – $450,000

Australia – Aus $211,163

boxofficeindia.com/overdetail.php?page=shownews&articleid=1713&nCat=overseas_report

Reply
stephin -

Seriously i think prince dastan should be a brown person, as its being claimed that its just like the video game. then why use a white actor as in the video game he is dark skinned ?????????????

Reply
Jenn -

Hollywood is out of touch with reality. That is why so far this summer’s movie season has been ice cold. Shrek 4? Bad idea. Prince of Persia is going to flop in America too. The story isn’t something that the average moviegoer wants to see on Memorial Day weekend.

Reply

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