Weekend Box Office: Everybody on the Grid

This weekend asked the question: “Can you open a sequel nearly 30 years after the original and expect anybody to show up?” And the question was answered: “Well, yes. Sort of.” Theaters saw the release of ‘Tron: Legacy’, a movie that I liked for its flashy, art-directed-within-an-inch-of-its-life audio video aesthetic (and the weirdness that goes along with it), but didn’t find nearly as compelling on a commercial narrative plane – or, er, grid. That sentiment seemed to be shared with the masses, as the movie debuted as a hit… but how much of a hit?

Disney’s glowy ‘Tron: Legacy‘ made $43.6 million over the weekend, which was enough to handily capture the #1 spot, but not nearly up to the modest studio expectations of $50 million. The marketing machine behind this movie was nearly unstoppable. The amount the studio has invested in it ($300 million) and various off-shoots (an animated series for next year has already been greenlit, and the gnomes at Imagineering have already started designing a number of high-impact theme part attractions) necessitated a much bigger opening – something more ‘Pirates of the Caribbean‘ and less ‘Country Bears’, if you know what I mean. I’ll be curious to see how this thing plays out in the long run, because it’s a cog in a much bigger plan that the studio has for the property over the next few years. The movie should have been more like J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Trek‘ reboot – something that’s accessible to newbies but also panders to longtime fans – and less like whatever it ended up being, some weird video art project writ large. It’ll take a tumble next weekend, mark my words.

At #2 was Warner Bros’ 3-D ‘Yogi Bear‘. It made $16.7 million. Let us never speak of it again.

In its first weekend as a nationwide player, Paramount’s terrific ‘The Fighter‘ expanded to 2,503 screens and racked up $12.1 million, enough for the #4 spot. You’ll see this movie connecting with more and more people as the word starts to spread about how unbelievably good it is. (If you can’t tell, I thought it was the shit.)

Way down in #6 was the debut of ‘How Do You Know‘, James L. Brooks’ $120 million romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson. It looks atrocious, and apparently the masses have agreed.

Black Swan‘, continuing its expansion, came in at #7 with $8.3 million. Keep in mind that I’m writing this on Sunday morning, when the numbers are still fuzzy. Right now, it’s only trailing ‘How Do You Know’ by a few hundred thousand dollars, so the positions could easily swap. What makes this even more impressive is that ‘Black Swan’ is playing on 1,500 fewer screens than ‘How Do You Know’. I saw ‘Black Swan’ again this week and loved it just as much as the first time around. You know what else I love? Hearing white suburban audiences shock in horror at the movie? It’s the best!

The rest of the top 10 is the same old, same old. Look for ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1‘ to finally exit the Top 10 next week. But don’t feel too bad for it. It’s nearing the $300 million mark. Magical indeed.

The Top 10

01 ‘Tron: Legacy’ (Disney) – $43.6 million

02 ‘Yogi Bear’ (Warner Bros) – $16.7 million

03 ‘Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ (Fox) – $12.4 million

04 ‘The Fighter’ (Paramount) – $12.1 million

05 ‘Tangled’ (Disney) – $8.6 million

06 ‘How Do You Know’ (Sony) – $8.6 million

07 ‘Black Swan’ (Fox) – $8.3 million

08 ‘The Tourist’ (Sony) – $8.2 million

09 ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1’ (Warner Bros) – $5.3 million

10 ‘Unstoppable’ (Fox) – $1.8 million


      • And yet, even another way of looking at this is that the world is still in a recession. Look at the dropoff of Narnia between last week and this week. Look at how much Tangled and Harry Potter pulled in. Granted, they have been out a while, but they took a nosedive fast.

        Also, the question begs, for Tron, does that take into account IMAX ticket sales? My understanding is that these figures normally do not show IMAX ticket sales in them.

      • This doesn’t validate or invalidate 3-D. If we had numbers comparing 3-D ticket sales and 2-D ticket sales then we could determine whether it’s on the incline or decline. Even then, we’d have to take the movies into account.

        Total ticket sales do nothing to reveal whether or not 3D is doing well or not.

      • Jane Morgan

        2010 proves that Avatar was a one-hit wonder.

        None of the 3D movies this year had their box office boosted from the 3D viral marketing effect. Mass audiences are no longer showing up for the gimmick. They are, once again, only showing up for the story.

        3D will probably be with us forever. But now it’s just another tool in the filmmaker’s toolbox.

        • EM

          3D as just another tool in the filmmaker’s toolbox, like color and synchronized sound? Color in modern film is nigh-ubiquitous, and a new feature film without synchronized sound is almost unthinkable. It’s possible 3D will go the same route. If so, that’s a shame; for probably if it becomes commonplace, it will usually be used in nothing more than a workmanlike manner, just as color and sound usually are. I sometimes wish filmmakers had to be certified for color and sound and had to obtain certifications for their use on specific projects, lest the tools go on being misused.

  1. i know but i want this whole 3D thing to end. i want remakes to end and super hero movies to end. i just want a good story and a fun time at the movies.oh and no hip cartoons. i want a movie theater to show black swan and not have it play downtown where parking sucks.

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