Turn off the Lights

“Tron Legacy” lights up the marquee

Tron Legacy made money this weekend, despite hesitant reviews and weak source material. “Legacy” added $43.6 million to the box office grid state side and another $23 million was raised overseas. But $66.6 million is a long ways to paying back a $170 million production budget (and that does not include the massive marketing campaign). It greatly beat out its most comparable visual film, Speed Racer, which flopped massively in May 2008.

But “Legacy” didn’t come close to another eye candy franchise, The Matrix. That series, at least the first film, had something few can say about Tron Legacy, a solid story to match the epic visuals. Walt Disney missed the point many studios do in underestimating the power of a great story to the general moviegoer, both in marketing and final product. The Mouse House avoided risks with this expected tentpole, choosing to hide the original Tron from curious audiences and focus on lights and sounds solely to sell the picture. It paid off in relative terms, but is not the event movie Avatar was one year ago.

Yogi Bear was a major disappointment. It came in a distant second with $16.7 million over three days. Talking animal pictures cannot be trusted for consistent box office results. Apparently no one was amused by the kleptomaniac bears and it made a modest haul. Both The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Tangled held onto their share of family audiences. “Narnia” snuck into third place with $12.4 million and Tangled knotted $8.6 million. Both Tangled and “Harry Potter” are the only movies to cross $100 million and $200 million respectively. “Harry Potter” sits in ninth place with $4.8 million.
 

The Top Ten

1. Tron Legacy- $43.6M (weekend)…$43.6M (gross)
2. Yogi Bear – $16.7M…$16.7M
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader- $12.4M…$42.7M
4. The Fighter- $12.2M…$12.6M
5. The Tourist – $8.7M…$30.7M
6. Tangled – $8.6M…$127.8M
7. Black Swan – $8.3M …$15.7M
8. How Do You Know – $7.6M…$7.6M
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – $4.8M…$265.5M
10. Unstoppable – $1.8M …$77.3M

Independent Films did decent business in expansion this weekend. The Fighter jumped up to fourth place from obscurity last weekend. It added $12.2 million to its initial $400,000 launch. Black Swan is still sending people spinning with $8.3 million tallied thus far. It outdid the only other new release from this week, How Do You Know. None of the popular talent involved in the romantic comedy could keep it from sinking into eighth place with $7.6 million. Considering it was rumored to cost over $50 million in the talent alone, that is a pretty hefty bomb.

Upcoming Christmas week are three new films targeting three different audiences. Little Fockers will open the widest on Wednesday with 3,450 locations. Meet the Fockers made $279 million in 2004 and Meet the Parents $166 million in 2000. It’s a PG-13 comedy targeting fans of the previous films and the young adult, professional, and singles crowds. Jokes involving Viagra make it a tad inappropriate for youngsters but the holiday theme to the movie is inviting for people looking to catch a film after a big Christmas dinner.

True Grit will attempt to do what no western has been able to do in over a decade- be critically and commercially successful. Jeff Bridges also stars in this Wednesday opener which is directed by the Coen brothers. The most recent western, The Warrior’s Way, went down in flames the weekend after Thanksgiving. But that was a cheap film by a first time director. Still, modern audiences just can’t seem to grab hold of a good Western anymore. 3:10 to Yuma opened with $14 million in 2007 and chugged to $53 million domestic. True Grit opens at 3,000 cinemas.

truegrit

Finally, Gulliver’s Travels will release on Christmas Day at 2,400 theaters. The comedy features typical Jack Black antics and seems to be appealing to kids. Black does great as a voice actor but is inconsistent in the leading role. Year One flopped in 2009, as did Be Kind, Rewind. But he finished with $80 million for both Nacho Libre and School of Rock. Little Fockers for the win. Happy Holidays.

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