erik lundegaard


Monday June 21, 2010

Hollywood B.O.: Toys Find Homes; "Hex" Hexed

The original "Toy Story" was in many ways about that moment in our history when the astronaut or spaceman (Buzz Lightyear) eclipsed the cowboy or sheriff (Woody) as the hero in the imaginations of boys everywhere. Pin it somewhere in the early 1960s—about the time Tom Hanks was Andy's age.

It could also be about that cultural moment when science-fiction eclipsed the western as our pre-eminent genre. Even as boys imagined themselves as astronauts, for example, Gene Roddenberry still had to pitch the original "Star Trek" as a western: "'Wagon Train' to the stars," he called it. Now it'd be the opposite. And it wouldn't sell. "It's like 'Star Trek'...but on the dusty plains!" Yeah, have fun with that.

Well, sci-fi still soars and the western has still seen better days. Sheriff Woody rides off into the sunset as perhaps our last, great, popular western hero in "Toy Story 3," while the film's main competition this past weekend, "Jonah Hex," a western, got bucked. "Toy Story 3" won the weekend with an estimated $109 million take, while "Jonah Hex" finished eighth—eighth!—with $5 million. Not even a battle. It helped that "3" was a beloved sequel, universally acclaimed (98% RT rating) and in more than 4,000 theaters, while Jonah Hex was an original, universally panned (14% RT rating), and in 2,845 theaters.

But eighth? Behind the fourth weekend of "Prince of Persia" and the third weekend of "Killers"? Yeesh.

"Hex"'s per-theater-average ($1,800) was the second worst of the summer—behind only "MacGruber," which grossed "$4 million in 2,551 theaters for $1,585 per in May. Everything went wrong for "Hex," including its title, which now seems like bad foreshadowing. What's next? "Joe Box Office Bomb"?

In other news, and despite the competition from "3," "Karate Kid" did surprisingly well, falling off only 47% and taking second place with $29 million. It's already grossed more than $100 million. "The A-Team" fell off even less, 46%, but it had less to fall off from; it grossed $13 million. "Get Him to the Greek" lost over 100 theaters but dropped only 38%, while "Shrek" couldn't handle "3" and fell by 65%.

Here's a puzzler: With "Toy Story 3" opening, and with "Shrek" as nose-holding backup, people still plunked down $2.6 million of hard-earned, global-financial-meltdown money for "Marmaduke"? But that thing's almost gone, finishing 10th, and its total domestic gross ($27 million) is about 2/3 of what "Toy Story 3" grossed on Friday alone.

"Toy Story 3," by the way, was the best opening for a Pixar movie ever—beating out "Finding Nemo," which made $70 million in May 2003. This is true even when adjusted for inflation. ("Nemo" winds up with $92 million adjusted.)

Full chart here.

And don't forget to vote for your favorite "Toy Story" movie here.

Posted at 07:02 AM on Monday June 21, 2010 in category Movies - Box Office