WEEKEND ESTIMATES: 'Tropic Thunder' with $26M 3-day and $37M 5-day Despite Michael Phelps Making History; Showbiz Satire Should Top $100M; 'The Dark Knight' No. 2 with $16.8M; 'Clone Wars' Disappoints with $15.5M and May Not Reach $40M Domestic!
by Steve Mason
Steve Mason is now on Facebook.
SUNDAY 8:30 a.m. (Pacific): The DreamWorks/Paramount comedy Tropic Thunder received a nice 17 percent bump from Friday's $8.2 million and should finish the weekend with about $26 million according to studio estimates. That means that the Ben Stiller-directed movie satire has actually scored a better three-day take than last weekend's R-rated Pineapple Express (Sony), which generated $23.24 million Friday-thru-Sunday.
There was clearly some concern after Thunder opened with $6.5 million
Wednesday and dipped to $4.5 million on Thursday, far behind Pineapple's $12 million
Wednesday and $6 million Thursday, but the picture recovered nicely over the
traditional three-day. It seems clear now that the Seth Rogen/James Franco
comedy was helped by getting a jump on the Beijing Olympics by two days,
and the Under 25s that rushed to see the movie are not traditional
Olympics fans anyway.
The more sophisticated Tropic Thunder, with excellent reviews, was definitely competing more directly with NBC's Olympics coverage. Thunder reached $37 million for five days despite competing with Michael Phelps's history-making eight gold medals, Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson finishing 1-2 in the women's gymnastics all-around and other marquee events like the 100-meter dash, won by Usain Bolt of Jamaica in world-record time on Saturday. With only a week of the Olympics to go and very light competition on the release schedule over the next month, Tropic Thunder should easily top $100 million, while Pineapple Express seems more likely to stall out around $70 million-$75 million.
Megahit The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) was no. 2 for the weekend adding an estimated $16.79 million according to Warner Bros. That was stronger than fellow Warner Bros. release Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which dropped over 18 percent on Saturday, and will wrap the weekend with just $15.5 million. It appears that George Lucas's animated continuation of the Star Wars mythology will struggle to reach $40 million domestic.
R-rated horror film Mirrors (20th Century Fox) from Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) played better than expected after a $4.25 million Friday. The movie was essentially flat day-over-day and should have $11.12 million banked by Monday morning. That makes it the fifth-best horror opening of 2008, following The Strangers, Prom Night, The Eye and One Missed Call.
At No. 5 is the aforementioned Pineapple Express, which tailed off by a dramatic 57 percent to $10 million. Two other new wide releases struggled. Fly Me to the Moon, the animated 3D family film from Summit, was unable to grab as many 3D locations as they had hoped and scored a $2 million opening weekend. Meanwhile Overture's Henry Poole Is Here starring Luke Wilson managed just $800,000 at 527 locations.
STUDIO 3-DAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW Tropic Thunder (DreamWorks/Paramount) — $26 million, $7,833 PTA, $37.03 million cume
2. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) — $16.79 million, $4,676 PTA, $471.49 million cume
3. NEW Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros.) — $15.5 million, $4,491 PTA, $15.5 million cume
4. NEW Mirrors (20th Century Fox) — $11.12 million, $4,176 PTA, $11.12 million cume
5. Pineapple Express (Sony) — $10 million, $3,255 PTA, $62.93 million cume
6. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal) — $8.6 million, $2,599 PTA, $86.64 million cume
7. Mamma Mia (Universal) — $6.49 million, $2,345 PTA, $116.41 million cume
8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Warner Bros.) — $5.93 million, $2,184 PTA, $32.14 million cume
9. Step Brothers (Sony) — $5 million, $1,888 PTA, $90.88 million cume
10. NEW Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Co.) — $3.71 million, $5,361 PTA, $3.71 million cume
* NEW Fly Me to the Moon 3D (Summit) — $2 million, $4,424, $2 million cume
* NEW Henry Poole Is Here (Overture) — $800,000, $1,518 PTA, $800,000 cume
FRIDAY 9:30 p.m. (Pacific): Tropic Thunder (DreamWorks/Paramount) is a hit, but it will come in with a five-day of less than Sony's Pineapple Express, and it seems that the Beijing Olympics may be hurting the new R-rated comedy's performance. Last week's stoner comedy Express, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, got two solid days of business in before the start of the Beijing Olympics and registered just over $18 million on Wednesday and Thursday, then scored $23.24 million on its opening weekend. Tropic Thunder, on the other hand, registered only $11 million in its first two days in theatres, followed by an estimated $8.25 million on Friday. That should translate to a $26.5 million three-day and an opening five days of $37.53 million or so.
The DreamWorks comedy is skewing much older than Pineapple Express, it is decidedly more sophisticated, and the 25 Plus demo is far more likely to tune in following the Olympics. The Ben Stiller-directed showbiz satire has received excellent reviews (83 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 72), but that tends to drive those same mature moviegoers. Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Tom Cruise are competing with the world's biggest star at the moment, Michael Phelps, who tied the 36-year-old Mark Spitz record of seven gold medals at a single Olympiad on Friday night at the Water Cube in Beijing and will try to surpass that mark on Saturday night in primetime on NBC.
With excellent word-of-mouth, the end of the Olympics next weekend, and no major competition for the next month, I am still anticipating that Tropic Thunder can reach $100 million, whereas I am projecting a still excellent $70 million-$75 million for Pineapple Express. The Judd Apatow-produced Express, however, was budgeted at a very modest $27 million compared to Thunder's $100 million budget.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros), an animated LucasFilm spin-off, grabbed an estimated $6.65 million on Friday, but this film will be very front-loaded, as Star Wars junkies poured into theatres on opening day. The film could dip as much as 15 percent-20 percent on Saturday, leading to a three-day of $19.5 million or so. That will probably mean a total domestic box office take in the $45 million-$50 million range.
Another solid hold for The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.), which continues to soar to heights once thought impossible. The Christopher Nolan-directed comic book adaptation added an estimated $4.95 million on Friday for an anticipated three-day of $17.17 million, pushing the mega-hit to almost $472 million. TDK seems destined for $515 million-$520 million domestic.
Alexandre Aja's Mirrors (20th Century Fox) actually outperformed Pineapple Express on Friday with $3.7 million in sales, but it will finish its opening weekend in fifth place with an estimated $9.8 million. That makes it only the sixth-best opening for a horror movie in 2008.
TOP 7 2008 HORROR FILM OPENINGS
1. The Strangers — $21 million
2. Prom Night — $20.8 million
3. The Eye — $12.42 million
4. One Missed Call — $12.5 million
5. Shutter — $10.4 million
6. Mirrors — $9.8 million (Estimated)
7. The Ruins — $8 million
Meanwhile, The buzz is apparently wearing off for moviegoers as Pineapple Express slowed to $3.48 million on Friday. The marijuana-fueled comedy is headed for an estimated $10.44 million and a new cume just north of $63 million, but that represents a 55 percent drop from its opening weekend.
EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS EARLY FRIDAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW Tropic Thunder (DreamWorks/Paramount) — $8.5 million, $2,561 PTA, $19.53 million cume
2. NEW Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros.) — $6.65 million, $1,926 PTA, $6.68 million cume
3. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) — $4.95 million, $1,379 PTA, $459.6 million cume
4. NEW Mirrors (20th Century Fox) — $3.7 million, $1,389 PTA, $3.7 million cume
5. Pineapple Express (Sony) — $3.48 million, $1,133 PTA, $56.41 million cume
6. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal) — $2.33 million, $693 PTA, $80.37 million cume
7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Warner Bros.) — $2.15 million, $796 PTA, $28.37 million cume
8. Step Brothers (Sony) — $1.57 million, $595 PTA, $87.46 million cume
9. Mamma Mia (Universal) — $1.47 million, $533 PTA, $111.39 million cume
10. NEW Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Co.) — $1.15 million, $1,662 PTA, $1.15 million cume
EXCLUSIVE FANTASY MOGULS EARLY 3-DAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW Tropic Thunder (DreamWorks/Paramount) — $26.5 million, $7,984 PTA, $37.53 million cume
2. NEW Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros.) — $19.5 million, $5,649 PTA, $19.5 million cume
3. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) — $17.17 million, $4,785 PTA, $471.87 million cume
4. Pineapple Express (Sony) — $10.44 million, $3,398 PTA, $63.37 million cume
5. NEW Mirrors (20th Century Fox) — $9.8 million, $3,679 PTA, $9.8 million cume
6. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal) — $7.99 million, $2,377 PTA, $86 million cume
7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Warner Bros.) — $6.69 million, $2,467 PTA, $32.91 million cume
8. Step Brothers (Sony) — $5.24 million, $1,982 PTA, $91.13 million cume
9. Mamma Mia (Universal) — $5.13 million, $1,853 PTA, $115.05 million cume
10. NEW Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Co.) — $4.02 million, $5,816 PTA, $4.02 million cume
THURSDAY 2:00 p.m. (Pacific): Paramount/Dreamworks says that they have been expecting a soft opening for Tropic Thunder, but I am a bit surprised. Last night, I reported that the film generated $7.5 million in Wednesday ticket sales, and, as it turns out, the real number is $6.5 million. Given that Pineapple Express (Sony) topped $12 million last Wednesday, I was expecting at least $9 million on Day 1, even with direct competition from the Beijing Olympics.
Thunder has received 83 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and the movie has a lot of buzz according to industry tracking, so why softer than Pineapple Express? The obvious answer is that the Under 25 "stoner crowd" showed up last Wednesday in big numbers, resulting in a front-loaded five-day take. In fact, opening day was easily the best box office performance for Express. That will not be the case with Tropic Thunder.
The Ben Stiller-directed movie-within-a-movie comedy will likely follow a more traditional weekend model with a big Friday, a slight increase on Saturday and a summer Sunday dip of 20 percent-25 percent. Ultimately, the size of Thunder's five-day will be determined by how big its Friday number is. A $7 million Friday would likely translate to $22.5 million for the traditional three-day and a five-day of $33.5 million or so. If the movie surges to $10 million on Friday, then it would top $30 million for three days and $40 million for five days. My hunch is that Friday will come in right around $8 million. If that's the way the start of the traditional weekend goes, then Tropic Thunder's three-day will be an estimated $25 million and the film will have banked $36.5 million by Monday morning.
WEDNESDAY 10:00 p.m. (Pacific): It appears that the Ben Stiller-directed Tropic Thunder (DreamWorks/Paramount) has opened about 40 percent off the first-day number for Sony's Pineapple Express last Wednesday. Early estimates show that the wild, movie-within-a-movie R-rated comedy has scored a solid, but less than meteoric midweek opening of $7.5 million or so.
My industry sources are telling me that this picture will play differently than Pineapple Express. Frankly, the marijuana party crowd fueled the big Wednesday of $12 million for Express, then the film dropped 50 percent on Thursday, recovered for just under $8 million on Friday, was down slightly on Saturday to $7.6 million and scored a near-identical Sunday. Tropic Thunder will likely follow a more traditional model.
With Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Tom Cruise in tow and an excellent Rotten Tomatoes score of 80 percent, Tropic Thunder will play older than Express. It seems that Thunder will be down a less dramatic percentage on Thursday to about $5 million before bouncing up to a possible $8.5 million Friday, a potential 20 percent bump on Saturday to $10.2 million and a dip of 20 percent on Sunday to $8.2 million. There is obviously some guesswork here, but this seems like a solid theory.
If the film plays out this way, the five-day will be right on $40 million (I predicted $45 million on Tuesday) and the traditional three-day will be about $27 million (up from my early week prediction of $25 million). That will still be enough for Tropic Thunder to win the three-day with Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros.), trailing at $18 million-$21 million and fellow Warner Bros. title The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) slipping to No. 3 at $15 million-$18 million.
The buzz for Tropic Thunder is solid, and there is not a lot of competition in the next couple of weeks, so the film will have legs. With a $40 million five-day, the raucous comedy should have no trouble topping $100 million domestic.