Worst Memorial Day weekend in nearly two decades: Costly Prince of Persia movie adaptation & Sex and the City sequel flop
May 28–31 Memorial Day weekend box office: Directed by Mike Mitchell, and featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Eddie Murphy, and Julie Andrews, DreamWorks Animation’s 3D comedy fantasy Shrek Forever After remained atop the North American (U.S. and Canada only) chart over the United States’ four-day weekend, grossing $51.7 million as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com. Total after 11 days: $146.8 million.
Far less impressive were the grosses of two costly new releases: Walt Disney Pictures’ Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and New Line/Warner Bros.’ Sex and the City 2.
No Prince of Persia movie sequels in the foreseeable future
A Jerry Bruckheimer production directed by veteran Mike Newell (Enchanted April, Four Weddings and a Funeral), and starring Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, 2005), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time landed in second place with $37.8 million.
Adapted from a video game, the fantasy adventure’s per-theater average was $10,371, which wouldn’t be bad for a $50 million movie opening at 3,646 venues. But for a $200+ million production, that’s worrisome indeed. Box office pundits had been predicting a weekend take as high as – a no more than okay – $45 million.
In other words, barring a miraculous international performance, don’t expect any Prince of Persia movie sequels in the near future.
Also in the cast: Gemma Arterton, Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, 1982), Tobby Kebbell, Alfred Molina, Richard Coyle, and Ronald Pickup.
Widely panned Sex and the City 2 trailing original
At no. 3, Michael Patrick King’s Sex and the City 2, which opened last Thursday, grossed $36.8 million – far below the $45 million expected over the extended Memorial Day weekend. The current domestic cume of this $100 million production is a less-than-satisfying $51 million.
For comparison’s sake: Two years ago, when movie ticket prices in the United States were about 10–15 percent lower, the original Sex and the City opened with a more-than-expected $57 million on the weekend after Memorial Day.
Looks like the generally bad reviews and/or bad word of mouth have negatively affected the box office allure of the big-budget sequel. Besides, let’s not forget that Sex and the City 2 has faced accusations of insensitivity, bigotry, hypocrisy, cultural arrogance, and, most damning of all, tediousness.
In the Sex and the City 2 cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, John Corbett, Chris Noth, Evan Handler, Oscar winner Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 2008), and, as themselves, Miley Cyrus and veteran Oscar winner Liza Minnelli (Cabaret, 1972).
The international market comes to the rescue
Update: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ultimately brought in $90.8 million domestically and $245.6 million internationally. Worldwide total: $336.4 million.
Sex and the City 2 ultimately brought in $95.3 million domestically and $195.4 million internationally. Worldwide total: $290.7 million.
For comparison’s sake: The original Sex and the City brought in $152.6 million domestically and $266.1 million internationally. Worldwide total: $418.8 million. That helps to explain why there hasn’t been a Sex and the City 3.
In any case, if it weren’t for the international market, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Sex and the City 2 would have been mammoth, off-with-their-heads box office bombs. As it is, the former was a sizable (but perhaps not quite guillotine-them-all) money-loser while the latter was a commercial “disappointment.”
“Prince of Persia Movie: Memorial Day” endnotes
And here’s where we note that in addition to being big-budget domestic box office underperformers, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Sex and the City 2 have something else in common: Both titles were partly shot in Morocco.
Unless otherwise noted, “Prince of Persia Movie + Sex Sequel: Memorial Day Duds” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources.
Comments about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Sex and the City 2, and other titles being profitable or money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, 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 data regarding rebates, international pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is accounted for). Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take; however, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Jake Gyllenhaal Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time movie image: Walt Disney Pictures.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis Sex and the City 2 movie image: Craig Blankenhorn | New Line Cinema | Warner Bros.
“Prince of Persia Movie + Sex Sequel: Memorial Day Duds” last updated in June 2022.