Weekend Box Office (April 16 - 18, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND It was another close race at the North American box office but the new super hero saga Kick-Ass edged out the four-week old 3D toon How to Train Your Dragon for the number one spot with the two separated by less than $200,000. The frame's other new release, the comedy remake Death at a Funeral, performed well with a solid debut in fourth place. Sophomore comedy hit Date Night posted strong legs in third place while most holdovers did well overall.

Winning the race by a thin margin, the super hero flick Kick-Ass bowed to $19.8M from 3,065 theaters for a good $6,469 average, according to final studio figures. Many expected the violent R-rated actioner to capture the top spot by a comfortable lead thanks to a wave of internet and fanboy buzz stoked by the film's strategic promotional plan which included a preview at Comic-Con last summer and a full opening night screening at South by Southwest last month. Reviews were mostly positive too and the film's 11-year-old heroine, a cursing and killing machine with lethal machine gun skills, excited the core audience just as much as she angered parental groups.

Kick-Ass delivered an opening that was certainly good, but not amazing, putting into question whether pre-release expectations were logical to begin with. Looking back at violent R-rated films opening in April, 2004's Kill Bill Vol. 2 bowed to $25.1M while the following year's Sin City debuted to $29.1M. Was it fair to think that Kick-Ass could draw in as much business?

Grosses may have taken a hit thanks to Carmike theaters not playing any Lionsgate releases currently. However, the distributor had no problem booking playdates nationwide as Kick-Ass enjoyed the fourth widest opening in company history. Lionsgate rarely launches films in more than 3,000 locations. Its only wider bows include Saw IV, Saw III, and The Forbidden Kingdom which all debuted in 3,150-3,200 theaters.

For this weekend, the super hero pic debuted to $7.7M on Friday (including the first shows that began at 10pm on Thursday night), dipped 6% to $7.2M on Saturday, and fell by a reasonably low 31% on Sunday to $5M. Kick-Ass cost $50M to produce with Lionsgate acquiring domestic rights for $15-20M plus paying for marketing.

Snatching the runner-up spot, the DreamWorks smash How To Train Your Dragon dipped only 21% to $19.6M propelling its cume to a stellar $158.3M after only 24 days of release. Audiences are loving Paramount's PG-rated animated film and recommending it to friends making it a leggy blockbuster that could reach $225M or more from North America alone.

Those not interested in cartoon Vikings or school-age crusaders spent their money seeing Date Night which enjoyed a remarkable hold in its second weekend. The Steve Carell-Tina Fey comedy declined by only 34% to $16.7M and boosted its ten-day total to a solid $48.7M. Reaching $100M is a definite possibility for the $55M-budgeted film. Good word-of-mouth and a lack of direct competition are both helping to fuel sales.

Opening in fourth place was the Chris Rock-Martin Lawrence comedy Death at a Funeral which took in $16.2M from 2,459 theaters for a solid $6,595 average - the best in the top ten. The R-rated film, a remake of a British pic from just three years ago, tells of hi-jinks that result after the death of the patriarch of a family. Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, Zoe Saldana, and AT&T pitchman Luke Wilson also star. Reviews were generally weak. Studio research showed that 56% of the audience was female and 56% was 25 or older.

Falling from first to fifth place was two-time champ Clash of the Titans which grossed $15.4M, down a respectable 42% in its third lap. Warner Bros. has banked $132.6M in 17 days and is headed for $160-170M. Overseas ticket buyers spent $55.3M on Perseus and pals boosting the international take to $189.7M and the worldwide haul to $322M. The global gross could skyrocket to $600M by the end of the run making the studio happy about its last-minute upgrade from 2D to 3D.

Miley Cyrus saw her latest project The Last Song dip by 39% to $6M for a cume to date of $50.2M giving the teen queen and Disney three straight hits breaking the half-century mark. Also surpassing $50M, but for the sixth time, was Tyler Perry who took in $4.1M with Why Did I Get Married Too?, off 63%, for a $54.8M total.

Disney's Alice in Wonderland slipped by 31% to $3.7M and has amassed $324.1M to date putting it at number 21 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list ahead of Shrek the Third's $321M from 2007. MGM's comedy Hot Tub Time Machine dropped just 36% to $3.5M upping the tally to $42.4M. Rounding out the top ten was the action-comedy The Bounty Hunter with $3.1M in its fifth round, down 27%, for a $60.3M sum for Sony.

The top ten films grossed $108.1M which was up 11% from last year 17 Again opened in the top spot with $23.7M; and up 36% from 2008 when The Forbidden Kingdom debuted at number one with $21.4M.

Compared to projections, Kick-Ass did not reach my $28M forecast but Death at a Funeral opened close to my $19M prediction.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a review of Date Night visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Losers, The Back-Up Plan, and Oceans all open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Apr 16 - 18 Apr 9 - 11 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Kick-Ass $ 19,828,687 3,065 1 $ 6,469 $ 19,828,687 Lionsgate
2 How To Train Your Dragon 19,633,320 24,863,535 -21.0 3,825 4 5,133 158,251,066 Paramount
3 Date Night 16,720,038 25,207,599 -33.7 3,380 2 4,947 48,666,799 Fox
4 Death at a Funeral 16,217,540 2,459 1 6,595 16,217,540 Sony
5 Clash of the Titans 15,385,491 26,633,209 -42.2 3,753 3 4,100 132,600,220 Warner Bros.
6 The Last Song 5,962,916 9,832,326 -39.4 2,767 3 2,155 50,187,855 Buena Vista
7 Why Did I Get Married Too? 4,098,898 11,017,379 -62.8 1,859 3 2,205 54,801,812 Lionsgate
8 Alice in Wonderland 3,656,442 5,301,730 -31.0 2,024 7 1,807 324,131,301 Buena Vista
9 Hot Tub Time Machine 3,490,471 5,431,021 -35.7 2,308 4 1,512 42,449,935 MGM
10 The Bounty Hunter 3,084,020 4,215,156 -26.8 2,475 5 1,246 60,261,888 Sony
11 Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2,790,042 3,979,641 -29.9 2,149 5 1,298 57,090,186 Fox
12 Avatar 1,002,814 844,651 18.7 500 18 2,006 745,023,267 Fox
13 The Ghost Writer 681,271 822,351 -17.2 480 9 1,419 13,251,944 Summit
14 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 631,021 554,661 13.8 152 5 4,151 3,026,200 Music Box
15 Letters to God 620,580 1,101,204 -43.6 714 2 869 2,020,830 Vivendi
16 Shutter Island 522,049 885,288 -41.0 602 9 867 125,800,945 Paramount
17 The Joneses 509,689 193 1 2,641 509,689 Roadside Attractions
18 The Perfect Game 480,000 417 1 1,151 494,000 Slowhand
19 Greenberg 320,111 420,938 -24.0 172 5 1,861 3,400,874 Focus
20 Hubble 3D IMAX 307,794 354,967 -13.3 41 5 7,507 3,279,965 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 87,785,076 $ 97,554,048 -10.0
Top 10 108,077,823 117,582,800 -8.1
Top 20 115,943,194 123,501,280 -6.1
Top 20 vs. 2009 115,943,194 105,094,501 10.3

Last Updated: April 19, 2010 at 4:45PM ET