MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

Land of the Loss

Belmont be damned … it was a photo-finish at the weekend box office with initial estimates giving the animated adventure Up a slight edge on the debut of the gonzo comedy The Hangover. First blush pegs Up with $44.5 million for a $200k lead on the new “boys’ night out” misadventure.

The weekend’s other major release, the reinvention of TV’s Land of the Lost, sputtered to a disappointing $19.3 million to rank third overall. And the wide release of My Life in Ruins was just fair with a $3.2 million gross.

Limited openers saw a fast start for Away We Go of $141,000 from four venues and an OK $30,200 from five sites for France’s Cesar-winning period drama Seraphine. Most exclusives had promising initial starts though the 14-screen launch of the American indie Tennessee was an immediate commercial casualty.

Ticket sales were flat from seven days earlier but took a backslide from the 2008 frame with some in the industry fearing that the current season might be precariously front loaded.

The zeitgeist was ideal for The Hangover, a raucous yarn about a bachelor stag in Vegas that goes seriously off track. Studio expectations for the niche R-rated comedy were buoyant based upon its high concept and the potency of past seasonal fare including The Wedding Crashers. High-end projections of $25 million seemed reasonable but interest began to spike early last week. The question remains whether it can sustain or turns out to be a fast burner like the majority of summer 2009’s slate to date.

The flip-flop can be ascribed to Land of the Lost, a comedic spin on the cult Saturday morning series from two decades back. Laced with spectacular special effects and the marquee power ofWill Ferrell, it was perceived as the weekend leader but lost steam as opening day approached. Still there was enough hope in tracking for projections of $25 million to $30 million that failed to coalesce.

Clearly envisioned as a seasonal alternative, My Life in Ruins has a long way to go to replicate starNia Vardalos’s Greek Wedding. The latter film certainly earned its box office through tenacity; building and expanding on word-of-mouth and stealth marketing. The new film appears to have stepped out too fast and wide and requires some immediate readjustment to tilt toward the positive side of sleeper status.

Weekend ticket sales translated into revenues of roughly $167 million, a virtual carbon copy result from seven days prior. It was however 6% less than the 2009 tally when debuts of Kung Fu Pandaand You Don’t Mess with the Zohan led with respective bows of $60.2 million and $38.5 million.

On the holdover front, Up displayed uncharacteristic stamina among this year’s high profile movies in their sophomore outings. Star Trek remains the sturdiest of the summer releases on the domestic front but the international juggernaut for Angels & Demons cannot be matched, with that film way in front as a global grosser as it exceeded a $400 million cume this past weekend.

American films are dominating overseas as local product is largely steering clear of head-to-head competition. One exception is Sweden’s Millenium (aka Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), which has become a major hit with forays into France, Italy and Spain in the past month. It opened in Quebec last weekend but has yet to secure a U.S. distributor.

Though Away We Go displayed exactly the sort of first-gear energy one needs for expansion, alternative audiences have largely favored imports this summer. Among those maintaining their niche toe-hold are Easy Virtue and Is Anybody There? (UK), Summer Hours (France) and Departures(Japan).

– Leonard Klady

Weekend Estimates – June 5-7, 2009

Title Distributor Gross (avera % change Theaters Cume
Up BV 44.5 (11,660) -35% 3818 137.6
The Hangover WB 44.3 (13,260) 3269 44.3
Land of the Lost Uni 19.3 (5,490) 3521 19.3
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 14.5 (3,800) -41% 3807 127.2
Star Trek Par 8.3 (2,590) -34% 3202 222.7
Terminator Salvation WB 8.2 (2,470) -50% 3304 105.5
Drag Me to Hell Uni 7.2 (2,880) -54% 2510 28.4
Angels and Demons Sony 6.5 (2,240) -42% 2925 116.2
My Life in Ruins Fox Searchlight 3.2 (2,720) 1164 3.2
Dance Flick Par 1.9 (1,130) -59% 1707 22.6
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 1.9 (1,350) -52% 1391 174.3
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past WB .92 (1,050) -52% 879 51.9
The Brothers Bloom Summit .41 (2,390) -34% 173 2
Obsessed Sony .31 (910) -53% 342 68.1
Fast & Furious Uni .29 (1,020) 20% 284 154.4
The Soloist Par .28 (910) -42% 306 30.7
Monsters vs. Aliens Par .26 (830) -18% 313 194.9
Race to Witch Mountain BV .23 (920) -29% 250 66.2
Easy Virtue Sony Classics .22 (4,400) 33% 50 0.63
Under the Sea 3D WB .21 (5,010) -9% 42 9.3
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $160.72
% Change (Last Year) -6%
% Change (Last Week) 0%
Also debuting/expanding
Millenium Alliance .18 (4,070) -41% 45 0.63
Summer Hours IFC .15 (3,450) -17% 44 0.78
Away We Go Focus .14 (35,250) 4 0.14
Departures Regent 77,400 (5,530) 3% 14 0.18
Seraphine Music Box 30,200 (5,030) 6 0.03
Downloading Nancy Strand 10,300 (2,060) 5 0.01
Tennessee Vivendi 9,200 (660) 14 0.01
Herb & Dorothy Arthouse 9,100 (4,550) 2 0.01
Unmistaken Child Oscilloscope 6,400 (6,400) 1 0.01
24 City Cinema Guild 5,900 (5,900) 1 0.01
The Art of Being Straight Regent 4,200 (4,200) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share – January 1 – June 3, 2009

Distributor (releases) Gross (millions) Mrkt Share
Warner Bros. (19) 716.7 16.90%
Paramount (10) 713.1 16.80%
Fox (10) 606.2 14.30%
Sony (11) 490.2 11.60%
Buena Vista (11) 399.4 9.40%
Universal (11) 384.3 9.10%
Lionsgate (7) 236.7 5.60%
Fox Searchlight (5) 185.9 4.40%
Summit (6) 144.6 3.40%
Focus (4) 95.2 2.30%
Paramount Vantage (2) 52.4 1.20%
MGM (3) 42.3 1.00%
Miramax (4) 38.7 0.90%
Weinstein Co. (6) 34.5 0.80%
Overture (3)


Other * (130) 67.3 1.60%
* none greater than 0.4% 4234.2 100.00%

Top Domestic Grossers – January 1 – June 4, 2009

Title Distributor (releases) Gross (millions)
Star Trek Par 214,401,695
Monsters vs. Aliens Par 194,583,608
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fox 172,420,290
Fast & Furious Uni 154,069,870
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony 146,508,539
Taken Fox 144,890,891
Gran Torino * WB 142,147,097
Slumdog Millionaire * Fox Searchlight 119,092,566
Night at the Museum 2 Fox 112,691,200
Angels & Demons Sony 109,624,649
Watchmen WB 107,509,799
Terminator Salvation WB 97,319,621
He’s Just Not That Into You WB 93,937,453
Up BV 93,072,435
Madea Goes to Jail Lionsgate 90,943,290
Knowing Summit 79,452,092
Hannah Montana: The Movie BV 77,683,699
Coraline Focus 75,204,399
Curious Case of Benjamin Button * Par 74,888,490
Hotel for Dogs Par 73,067,320
* does not include 2008 box office
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