Weekend Box Office (May 7 - 9, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The summer movie season kicked off with the thunderous opening of the eagerly awaited super hero sequel Iron Man 2 which hauled in $128.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday period making for the fifth biggest debut of all-time according to final studio figures. Paramount released the Marvel production in a mammoth 4,380 theaters including 181 venues with IMAX screens making it the widest bow in history edging out the 4,366-theater release of The Dark Knight in July 2008. The new Tony Stark film averaged a scorching $29,252 per site.

Hollywood's only blockbusters to open bigger were Knight with $158.4M, Spider-Man 3 with $151.1M, The Twilight Saga: New Moon with $142.8M, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest with $135.6M. Iron Man 2 registered the largest debut in company history for Paramount beating Shrek the Third's $121.6M and was second-best among May titles behind another Marvel sequel launching over the first weekend of the month - the third Spidey flick.

Robert Downey Jr. once again played the title role with Jon Favreau directing and Gwenyth Paltrow co-starring. New players this time for the $170-180M production were Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, and Don Cheadle. Samuel L. Jackson's cameo in the first installment was expanded into a supporting role this time giving the actor the coveted 'and' credit. Rourke snagged the almost-as-cool 'with' credit. Numerous promotional partners added marketing muscle to the campaign including Burger King, Audi, 7-Eleven, Dr. Pepper, Oracle, and Hershey's Reese's brand.

Fans powered the first Iron Man to an opening of $102.1M (including Thursday night shows starting at 8pm) two years ago over the first weekend of May ahead of a leggy run that reached $318.4M. The sequel's opening was 26% better and benefitted from 7% more theaters, two years of ticket price increases, and the addition of an IMAX release which took advantage of higher ticket prices. IM2 set a new record for biggest 2D IMAX opening with $10.2M from 181 screens beating the $8.5M from 138 of last May's Star Trek, also a Paramount release.

As with its predecessor, Iron Man 2 scored an encouraging A grade from CinemaScore indicating great satisfaction from paying audiences. Critics were not as enthusiastic this time around but in general reviews were good, especially for a comic book sequel. Exit polls showed that 60% of the crowd was male and 60% was over 25. Friday kicked off with a stunning $51.2M in ticket sales including $7.5M in Thursday night post-midnight shows, Saturday dipped 11% to $45.8M, and Sunday slid by 32% to $31.1M. The metal man accounted for a whopping 76% of all sales for the top ten movies this weekend as competition hardly existed and rival studios steered clear of releasing anything big against it.

Overseas, where the Stark gang debuted a week earlier, ticket sales hit an estimated $57M this weekend lifting the international tally to $194M. That makes for a massive $185M global weekend gross and a $322M cume to date worldwide in under two weeks. Even with large sequel-type declines in the weeks ahead, Iron Man 2 should have no problem zooming past the $582M global haul of its predecessor paving the way for a third chapter which Marvel is already planning.

Freddy Kruger took a tumble as expected. The horror remake A Nightmare on Elm Street fell a sharp 72% in its second weekend to $9.1M putting it in a distant second place. It was a larger sophomore fall than those for other fright redos like Halloween (64%) and Prom Night (58%) but did not reach the incredibly high 80% crash suffered by Friday the 13th last year. With $48.5M in ten days, Nightmare should end up with a solid $60-65M nearly matching the $65M of the Jason remake.

Holding up well yet again in its seventh weekend of release was the 3D sensation How To Train Your Dragon which slipped only 37% to $6.7M boosting the hit toon into the double-century club with $201M to date. A final domestic take of $220-225M seems likely.

Fox's leggy comedy hit Date Night followed with $5.4M in its fifth weekend, down only 28%, for a $81M cume to date. The Jennifer Lopez pic The Back-up Plan dropped 31% to $5M giving CBS Films $30.1M thus far.

Summit's family flop Furry Vengeance fell 32% to $4.5M resulting in a poor ten-day tally of just $12.1M. Clash of the Titans took a big hit from Iron Man 2 tumbling 57% to $2.5M. After its sixth frame, the Warner Bros. 3D adventure has banked $158M.

Chris Rock's latest comedy Death at a Funeral followed with $2.3M, off 44%, for a $38.5M sum for Sony. The Losers ranked tenth collapsing 69% to $1.8M with $21.5M to date for Warner Bros.

The documentary Babies opened to weak results in ninth. The PG-rated film about the first year of life for four babies growing up in different parts of the world grossed $2.2M from 534 theaters for a mild $4,048 average. Focus went unusually wide with the launch as most non-Michael Moore documentaries do not bow in this many theaters on the first weekend. Disney's nature films Oceans and Earth are two examples of wide releases for the genre as both were tied into Earth Day. Babies was slated for Mother's Day weekend, however its target audience of new parents rarely get time to go out to the movies at that stage of life. Sunday did, however, turn out to be much better than the distributor estimated as mommies spent some cash. A much larger crowd is likely to catch it on DVD and VOD. Reviews for the French-produced doc were generally positive.

The top ten films grossed $167.7M which was up 21% from last year when Star Trek opened in the top spot with $75.2M ($79.2M including Thursday night); and up 45% from 2008 when Iron Man remained at number one with $51.2M. During those two years, this was the second weekend of summer and not the kickoff.

Compared to projections, Iron Man 2 opened below my $148M forecast while Babies debuted close to my $3M prediction.

Check the UPDATED charts for the Top Opening Days, Top Opening Weekends, Top May Openings, and the Summer Kickoff Films of 1996 - 2010.

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For a NEW review of Iron Man 2 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Robin Hood, Just Wright, and Letters to Juliet open.

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# Title May 7 - 9 Apr 30 - May 2 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Iron Man 2 $ 128,122,480 4,380 1 $ 29,252 $ 128,122,480 Paramount
2 A Nightmare on Elm Street 9,119,389 32,902,299 -72.3 3,332 2 2,737 48,479,560 Warner Bros.
3 How To Train Your Dragon 6,680,374 10,614,289 -37.1 3,003 7 2,225 201,013,867 Paramount
4 Date Night 5,448,257 7,577,352 -28.1 2,734 5 1,993 81,002,725 Fox
5 The Back-up Plan 5,033,471 7,255,762 -30.6 3,003 3 1,676 30,103,940 CBS
6 Furry Vengeance 4,478,107 6,627,564 -32.4 3,002 2 1,492 12,100,064 Summit
7 Clash of the Titans 2,503,251 5,855,368 -57.2 2,157 6 1,161 158,006,277 Warner Bros.
8 Death at a Funeral 2,308,743 4,123,105 -44.0 1,706 4 1,353 38,531,924 Sony
9 Babies 2,161,460 534 1 4,048 2,161,460 Focus
10 The Losers 1,847,290 5,888,471 -68.6 2,450 3 754 21,496,907 Warner Bros.
11 Oceans 1,605,936 2,564,843 -37.4 1,232 3 1,304 16,131,584 Buena Vista
12 Kick-Ass 1,504,959 4,515,940 -66.7 1,759 4 856 45,281,105 Lionsgate
13 The Last Song 1,173,148 2,255,782 -48.0 1,303 6 900 60,341,033 Buena Vista
14 Alice in Wonderland 712,721 1,478,225 -51.8 582 10 1,225 330,857,949 Buena Vista
15 City Island 609,264 733,338 -16.9 247 8 2,467 2,943,797 Anchor Bay
16 Hot Tub Time Machine 532,162 1,125,651 -52.7 802 7 664 48,597,718 MGM
17 Diary of a Wimpy Kid 449,913 981,535 -54.2 625 8 720 61,502,221 Fox
18 Why Did I Get Married Too? 436,980 812,234 -46.2 404 6 1,082 59,391,504 Lionsgate
19 Avatar 425,085 633,124 -32.9 328 21 1,296 747,946,415 Fox
20 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 411,256 510,509 -19.4 187 8 2,199 5,253,002 Music Box
Top 5 $ 154,403,971 $ 64,977,266 137.6
Top 10 167,702,822 87,924,993 90.7
Top 20 175,564,246 97,943,881 79.2
Top 20 vs. 2009 175,564,246 146,317,335 20.0

Last Updated: May 10, 2010 at 10:45PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.