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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by Leonard Shrek-y

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Shrek Forever After just didn’t get ticket buyers as excited as DWA and Paramount would have liked. Personally, I blame the confusing ad campaign that didn’t really address what the story of the movie is… “What The Shrek Just Happened?” means nothing if you don’t know that Rumpelstiltskin has managed to send Shrek back to the beginning of his journey.
These numbers would be good for most other animated films. 60% better an opening day than, say, How To Train Your Dragon. But a bit soft for Shrek. Pretty likely, the opening weekend ends up in the mid-70s to mid-80s. But there were those calling for 100m+, which ain’t happening.
Iron Man 2 is still runing $25m ahead of the first film… but is slowing faster. This Friday estimate is about $1m off of the first film’s third Friday. We’ll see how it plays out over the 3-day. In the meanwhile, foreign is still the main story here, with IM2 passing the first film’s total international gross sometime today. Disney and Marvel will have to determine whether they are getting into dangerous territory here, as the international market is often a movie behind domestic in terms of giving up on a weakening franchise. IM2 should be at least $100 million bigger, worldwide, than IM. But next time, that may signal a smaller gross for the third film… or not.
Letters To Juliet is now past Remember Me and will break the $30m Summit glass ceiling… establishing the $40m glass ceiling… about half of Dear John… but an improvement for the company.
MacGruber opened to about 25% less than Hot Rod. Look for a $4 million weekend and a $10 million total domestic gross. What does it mean? Only that even the geeks didn’t really turn out for this one in force. I guess they are waiting on Get Him To The Greek for top geekomdy.
Just goes to show that Relativity can even lose money on a $10 million one-off with a strong SXSW geek kingdom push. Skillz. (Universal, btw, suffers only the embarrassment of association and wasted marketing team time on this one.)

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48 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Leonard Shrek-y”

  1. chris says:

    I hope that’s not what is happening. “MacGruber” is about a million times funnier than “Greek” is.

  2. Krillian says:

    Ah, darn. Greenlit movies that have just been cancelled:
    What’s Up with That Movie with Kenan Thompson.
    Two A-Holes Star in a Movie with Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig.
    The Vinny Viducci Movie with Bill Hader.

  3. Wrecktum says:

    The Shrek 4 marketing campaign is one of the worst I’ve ever seen for a major release.

  4. Geoff says:

    Well, I guess it’s safe to say that Paramount’s tent-pole hot streak is officially over – since ’07, they have had a series of overperforming summer blockbusters (Iron Man, Tranny, Kung Fu Panda, Star Trek, even GI Joe, a few others) that were driving by omnipresent and smart marketing. But there will be no way to spin the fourth Shrek as anything other than a big disappointment and Iron Man as a slight disappointment.
    They have been really good at launching new mega-franchises – the real test will be in July to see if The Last Airbender will be as huge as some are expecting it to be.

  5. Don Murphy says:

    The geeks are waiting for Splice.

  6. EthanG says:

    Universal also shares the embarrassment of shoving this crap down everyone’s throats via NBC, non-stop for WEEKS. IMO they went into overkill territory with the marketing.

  7. marychan says:

    Looks like “Solitary Man” would be another successful acquisition for Anchor Bay. I suspect that “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” would fare better at US box office if Avi Lerner had also agreed to sold that film to Anchor Bay (instead of self-releasing that film through his own distributor).
    By the way, Leonard’s chart has a little mistake: the actual distributor of “Holy Rollers” is First Independent Pictures. (Of course, the film’s opening is good for First Independent Pictures’s standard.)

  8. NickF says:

    I wonder how many of the other studios are pointing and laughing at Universal right now. Once again, they fail to market a movie and get an opening out of it. For all the “Internet” hype and positive test screenings, they moved it from late April where’s this kind of opening wouldn’t have been a story and moved it to where the big boys are and that makes the failure look even bigger.
    As for Shrek the 4th, or whatever it’s called. I’m happy to see the diminishing returns. After the 2nd movie I lost all interest. Never saw the 3rd which everyone says they hate, and this 4th movie make little to no sense to me from the advertising.

  9. marychan says:

    I suspect what Don Murphy says (about “Splice”) is right.
    Afterall, Joel Silver is definitely not a stupid guy; if his company is willing to spend P&A to give an indie horror film a wide theatrical release, then that indie horror film should be at least somewhat marketable.

  10. bmcintire says:

    Considering SHREK had the added box office of inflated 3D ticket prices, this is an even bigger kick in the pants to Paramount than it looks. What is the percentage uptick on that, 8%? 10%?

  11. Joe Straat says:

    I figured an opening of this magnitude was coming when I went to a Friday screening of Macgruber and was one of two people there. Eh, it’s not truly bad, but they completely overdid it on the shit jokes. It’s really hard to do a shit gag, and really, you can only do it once, maybe twice. This movie has about 40 shit gags. Other than that, a few chuckles, one big laugh, but really, even if it looks better than your average comedy, it’s still more worth the price of catching it on cable.

  12. mutinyco says:

    There’s always the possibility that audiences are slowing down on their willingness to pay $15-20 per ticket for 3-D after a rash of films over the past 6 months…

  13. Joe Leydon says:

    I don’t know how many, if any, of those 208 prints of Kites are edited versions, and how many are the full-length Bollywood extravaganza. But I think that’s a pretty freakin’ amazing showing. Isn’t this a new record for an Indian film in the US?

  14. berg says:

    KITES showing at the angelika has a running time of 140-plus minutes … a friend at work told me he was going to let me borrow the Bollywood version of Death at a Funeral dvd

  15. djk813 says:

    The biggest opening weekend for a Bollywood film in the U. S. is My Name is Khan from earlier this year at just under $2M.

  16. aframe says:

    Joe–the Ratner-ized “remix” of KITES (the idea of which I find completely pointless, as the original version is as Western-friendly a Bollywood film as you can get while still being recognizable as being Indian) doesn’t open until next week. This week is only Anurag Basu’s original (read: real) cut. Happy to see it perform as Hrithik Roshan is probably the Bollywood actor with the best chance of having the greatest western appeal, not to mention I have a soft spot for Barbara Mori since she played the title character in the telenovela RUBI a few years back.

  17. William Goss says:

    Joe Straat: Saw it last night. Besides the upper-decker mention and one of the end credits freeze-frames, I can’t recall any other shit humor in the film (at least nothing being shown). You make it sound like the rampant diarrhea gags in Miss March or something.

  18. William Goss says:

    (Oh, and he takes a guess that Vicki’s going to take a #2.)
    I was a bit more annoyed by how much of a crutch Val Kilmer’s character name turned out to be (and how much it worked with a college crowd).

  19. William Goss says:

    *how WELL it worked, rather

  20. Joe Straat says:

    There’s the moment in the movie where he sticks celery up his ass and eats it later with the line “……I washed it.” Then there’s the booklet where Macgruber obsesses with shitting on that one guy’s car (About 10 pages worth of scribblings), and a lot of other lines about shitting. Maybe I am overstating my case, but there’s still plenty of it.

  21. Obviously I was a little off about MacGruber breaking out, but I’m still shocked by the low number. Why the hell did they hide this from critics? Once again, if you’re movie is good (or at least gets the job done), why not let those who read reviews know that? MacGruber isn’t great (it’s not nearly as ambitious or disciplined as Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and it doesn’t use Val Kilmer nearly enough), but it has solid laughs and doesn’t overstay its welcome. I guess the big mystery, why did Universal move this one into the heart of summer (which implied that it was good) and then more or less hide the movie (which implied that it was bad)? Am I missing something (always possible) or is Universal that incompetent these days?
    As for Shrek 4, nice job advertising your PG-rated family-film with a pun-variation on the R-rated phrase ‘what the f-ck just happened?’. If the film plays anything like Shrek the Third longterm (2.66x its opening weekend), it ends up grossing quite a bit less than How to Train Your Dragon. Wow…

  22. William Goss says:

    Scott: I assumed that several movies scooted off April 16th to avoid Kick-Ass and the 23rd (where MacGruber was originally scheduled) to avoid The Losers and/or Wall Street 2.
    When else would it have opened, though? Toy Story 3 counter-programming seems just as suicidal. As a Twilight or Inception alternative? July 30th up against family and teen fare might’ve panned out a bit better, but we’ll never know now.
    Hiding it wasn’t wise, no, but they’ll be all about building up Get Him to the Greek.

  23. Goulet says:

    @ Don Murphy: Saw SPLICE this week, loved it. It’s almost as good as old-school David Cronenberg.

  24. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “Get Him to the Greek” and “Splice” will cancel each other out. Both open the same day (6/4) in a 4-release pile-up.
    BTW mutinyco is on to something: The Imax version of Shrek 4 is a $20 ticket in Manhattan — a fact that has drawn attention in the NYC press. High prices for substandard product are driving away the mass audience.

  25. Hallick says:

    I was hoping for something special from Shrek 4, in light of David’s review earlier, but mannnnn…the story was like something from the middle of a hypothetical 2nd season of “Shrek: The Animated Series” rather than a major motion picture that needs to up the ante. It was pretty remarkable how absolutely straight down the line and by the numbers they went with this “It’s a Wonderful Life” blueprint in the movie. You start where you expect to start, you muddle along through the middle, and you wind up exactly where you knew you were going to be at the end.
    Aside from a funny Craig Robinson bit when the ogres are planning their tabletop ambush, and Rumplestilskin’s angry wig, I don’t feel like I saw anything that I haven’t sat through dozens of times on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon at this point.

  26. I’ll be interested to see the ticket sales demos tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2D vastly outperformed 3D and IMAX 3D. If ever there was a movie that even casual audiences knew they probably didn’t need to see in 3D. For better or worse, the Shrek franchise is basically a series of (surprisingly-intelligent) romantic comedies, with occasional manic action to satiate the younger audiences.

  27. LexG says:

    For once in his posting history, Chucky in Jersey might have just made a good point, or at least one I agree on and have been meaning to mention, all apologies to the esteemed Don Murphy and SPLICE fans:
    June 4th is an absolutely overcrowded CLUSTERFUCK of a weekend; The placement of FOUR B-level, medium-anticipation, mid-budget low-profile pics makes it IMPOSSIBLE for any of them to truly break out; “Marmaduke” is kind of its own thing and, scary to say, could even win the weekend…
    But “Killers” vs “Splice” vs “Get Him to the Greek”? Three low-fi would-be sleepers all being relegated to shoebox screens at every multiplex, fighting for some of the same audience overlap?
    Greek and Killers have pretty much THE EXACT SAME AUDIENCE in mind; I’m sure Splice is AWESOME, but anyone on a date is going to see one of the former, and a good share of the geeks will go see Greek.
    And, again, multiplexes are gonna want to keep Persia and Sex and the City and Shrek in “the big rooms,” so possibly four “new releases” will be playing in the second-run, “100 seats with faulty projection at the end of the wing” theaters.
    I couldn’t care less about Marmaduke obviously, but Killers and Splice I’m rooting for to break out… But what a brutal weekend to try to catch on. And with A-Team around the corner.

  28. scooterzz says:

    firstly, i really believe this NSFW / X-RATED on-line mcgruber campaign (
    killed what little audience it might have had…..
    secondly, ‘splice’ is great fun and contains a scene destined to be every fanboy’s best wet dream…..i’m guessin’ it’s gonna be larger than ‘get me to the greek’…..(and btw – has anybody noticed that ‘get me to the greek’ is just a badly reimagined version of ‘my favorite year’?…….

  29. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, I thought the Shrek ad was a play on “What the HECK just happened,” but maybe I was giving them too much credit for subtlety.
    Back to MacGruber — The crazy thing is, critics did have a chance to see the movie ahead of time — if they went to SXSW last March. Indeed, the movie was fairly well received by the press there, and the trailers and posters actually quote three early notices. So Rogue/Universal’s refusal to pre-screen it before Friday’s opening seems to me even more of a bonehead move.

  30. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    A little off Scott M? You weren’t even on planet earth. I still have no idea why people thought MacGruber film would open.
    So DP you gotta admit my accurate SOUL PLANE assessment. Pretty much nailed that film amongst all the fanboys frothing. SXSW buzz is smaller than a geek fart at ComicCon. DP learnt that the hard way when he predicted $30m+ and theatrical post the SXSW buzz of that Behind the Mask horror film that no one remembers now.
    SPLICE will bomb unfortunately. It’s got a direct to video perception about it and I think they’re wasting money doing a theatrical. SPLICE is absolutely nothing like Cronenberg whose early sexual body rages had an austere seriousness to them. They were never laughably wink wink. SPLICE is a lot more Stuart Gordon, a lot of fun but its lofty ideals flounder amongst the cheezy dialogue and pacing issues.

  31. Geoff says:

    June 4 is going to be extremely competitive, but I see it this way:
    1. Sex & the City 2
    2. Marmaduke
    3. Killers
    4. Get Him to the Greek
    5. Prince of Persia
    I think Splice is one of the best year, seriously…..but I do not see it really registering. Have some of you folks seen this movie? It goes to some crazy places that I think might truly put some folks off….but then again, I was just watching District 9 on Blu-Ray, kind of the same deal.

  32. Triple Option says:

    I saw Shrek 4 in 3D and really enjoyed it. What I did wonder is how much of that was enhanced by the 3D. Of course a good movie is a lot of things, story, dialog, characters, etc but the beginning of Shrek 4 is very eye popping and stunning. Later in the film I was wondering had it lost its steam or have I just gotten used to it? It’s hard to make every scene sort of worthy of 3D. Plus if you tried it would prolly just be too busy. I’m still in the evaluation process of if paying for the extra 3D is worth it. I don’t know about you guys but I’m starting to see the 3D surcharge as an extended product warranty. I shouldn’t have to pay more to cover the manufacture’s ineptitude. This movie is cliche ridden, re-hashed drivel but if you tack on an $2-$4, it’ll look cool for the first five minutes that maybe it’ll cover part of your anger for having wasted 2 hours of your precious time away from work.
    I’m seeing more about Slice here than I am seeing or hearing about it in the real world. This was my experience w/Kick-Ass. I’m not in the prime demo market but plenty of associations w/those who are and it’s just not coming up anywhere. I just today for the first time saw a billboard for it. I was actually surprised it was coming out so soon. I don’t want it to seem like I’m basing a prediction on a small anecdotal sample but it seems like it’s a movie buff’s movie which I think loose out to event type movies, which Marmaduke and Sex/City both are. No, not saying they’re the same market but those are films get people out of their house. And while I’m not comparing Splice to a trip to the dentist, it appears to me to be one of those films you gotta send the postcard 3 weeks out saying this is important, “you gotta make the appt to come see this, mentally clear out space on your calendar so you don’t forget and can start planning around it now…” and I’m not so sure that’s been happening.
    On a separate note, I did like Marmaduke as a young kid. I hope it’s something more than the low cal version Marley & Me. Is there any way to do this type of movie besides “family takes in stray, dog tears up everything, given one last chance, blows the big important event, turning beautiful set into disaster area, dog gets sent away, breaks free and comes back to save the day”? I’ve yet to see one trailer for it, will more than likely see the movie, (maybe not opening w/e), but I have almost zero faith in mankind to come up w/something original when franchise on the brain.
    Underdog was one of my favorite cartoons but the live action version looked so awful I couldn’t bring myself to see it. At least they got the right looking dog for Marmaduke.

  33. doug r says:

    I think word of mouth might improve Shrek’s numbers. Maybe MacGruber will pick up a little by the end of the weekend, after some word of mouth and people checking the bottom of the marquee.

  34. Geoff says:

    I think Shrek has pretty much missed its window – over the next month, the family/kid market is packed – you have Marmaduke, Karate Kid, and then Toy Story 3.
    This thing isn’t getting to $200 million, believe it or not.

  35. leahnz says:

    geoff, to be fair shrek 4 should easily pass 200mil, the days when big flicks depended on the US to make $ are gone

  36. IOv2 says:

    Yes Leah, Shrek will do over 200m internationally but that’s internationally. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, but if you do not make it here. You are toast.
    This is why Robin Hood and Shrek will be considered failures in the US, even though they will almost assuredly due very good overseas. I would not put it past either film to have their very own Ice Age 3 moments over there, thus making them international successes but domestic failures.
    Is that a fair representation? No, but that’s how it works and will always work, until all the morning shows start reporting international and domestic figures combined on Monday morning. The moment Anne Curry adds an extra 5 seconds to the 15 seconds of box office discussion on the Today in order to discuss combined box office figures, that will be the moment some people in this country start to care about international box office.
    Two other things:
    1) MacGruber is just awesome and you can never have too many shit jokes.
    2) Shrek 4 had to have paid from the Shrek that remains Shrek the Third. Shrek 4 should have been the third movie. If you play Shrek, Shrek 2, and Shrek 4 in order, you have a better franchise. Why they did that Third that way is beyond me but please keep in mind that since Kung Fu Panda, Dreamworks has kicked it up a notch with their storytelling. Disagree but Shrek 4 made me happy to know that the folks at Dreamworks are not sitting on their hands anymore when it comes to writing their movies.

  37. IOv2 says:

    The first sentence in the Shrek part of the post above should read, “Shrek 4 had to have paid the price for Shrek the Third.”

  38. leahnz says:

    “until all the morning shows start reporting international and domestic figures combined on Monday morning.”
    hey, i actually agree with you there io, and add to that box office sites and every other box office reportage venue that inexplicably insists on reporting on and treating money from the ‘rest of the world’ like the great unwashed afterthought. the paradigm of ‘american money’ as unique and special is simply draconian and bizarre in this day and age of globalisation, when many movies make much more cash OUTSIDE the US, enough already. it’s simple: you post the gross, and then the US tally noted separately if you must, but the total should be the TOTAL, not some half-truth total. it’s not rocket science.

  39. Geoff says:

    Leahnz, I see what you’re saying but the reality is that the domestic box office is much quicker and easier to track, as well – much more opportunity for fudging with the international numbers. Hard to forget that about a year and a half ago that the Weinsteins were putting out press releases proclaiming that “The Reader grosses $100 million worldwide!” when the actual reality turned out to be that the film had not passed $90 million yet.
    And it’s not as if we’re the only ones showing national bias – I’m sure in India, they are putting higher priority on how Bollywood releases are doing and what they are doing domestically.
    AND you really can’t forget that it’s much easier to think of them as the “unwashed masses” when they’re making films like 2012 and Ice Age 3 mega-blockbusters.
    Have to say that I do NOT see Robin Hood as underperforming, at this point – the film had an OK hold this weekend and will likely break $100 million domestic and probably twice that overseas. That’s really more than I ever thought this movie would do.

  40. bulldog68 says:

    I think Shrek 4 still does that 200M domestic. Memorial weekend keeps it in the money and prevents a huge drop. Thereis still a chance that the general public will treat this more like Shrek 1 than Shrek 3, which basically did the same $42M in weeks 1 & 2. If more people come down on the side of Dave and IO and think this is worth the trip, you could see a very decent hold next week. Plus as Dragon recently proved, if good WOM can get a $40M over $215M, a $70M opening can certainly get to $250M.
    One other minor fact, it this estimated $72M number holds it will still be bigger than any Pixar opening. Though I thing Toy Story 3 will change that very soon. So while this opening is disappointing compared to other Shreks, its no bomb.

  41. christian says:

    “you can never have too many shit jokes.”
    I guess audiences disagree.

  42. The Big Perm says:

    They wouldn’t know there were too many shit jokes since they didn’t go in the first place.

  43. christian says:

    Maybe it just looked like shit.

  44. IOv2 says:

    It’s not a bad film. MacGruber is hilarious. It will hopefully be a film that people find in time because it’s worth seeing for the sex scenes alone. I really have not laughed that hard at anything in a long time. If you disagree, good for you, but I eagerly await the moment this film is released on DVD.

  45. leahnz says:

    geoff, that’s true about reporting domestic grosses and i didn’t mean to imply that domestic grosses shouldn’t be the focus at times, clearly they will be in any country that records box office, but it’s the entrenched and wide-spread policy of reporting/commenting on US domestic grosses as if they were a world-wide released film’s total box office that is draconian and backwards.
    there are too many examples to mention but one of simplest is the fact that BOM, one of the premiere suppliers of box office figures to the world, still does not include the actual gross of a film in its first visible banner, only the domestic gross, you have to look elsewhere for what $ the film has really made. this is the ‘mindset’. you yourself just posited that shrek will be a disappointment not reaching 200mil, in what seemed thinking only in US terms.
    (and just because the weinsteins fib about international figures doesn’t make international box office figures unreliable, this ‘international box office numbers are hinky and unreliable’ paradigm is a big myth. non-american businesses do know how to accurately record transactions and count money, and non-american banks do know how to accurately exchange/transfer it. perhaps some yahoo third-world countries may not have top-shelf accuracy in box office reporting, but this hardly seems relevant to the overall box office picture. international figures may be slower to come in but they are no more likely to be fudged or suspect than US domestic figs)

  46. David Poland says:

    The problem, Leah, is that there is no media clearinghouse for international numbers like there is for domestic in this country.
    The little reporting there is – which Mojo steals from Screen International, btw – tends not to go to the bitter end, as US reporting does, so most distributors will tell you that the international number gets particularly inaccurate at the end.
    Also, there is almost no call and response on these weekend reports of international numbers. So studios do fudge them. If nothing made it more obvious than it is, they tend to hand out weekend estimates of foreign on Saturday and never offer finals.

  47. leahnz says:

    thanks for that DP, that was informative

  48. leahnz says:

    christ i don’t know how i posted that before i finished but i was going to say, so it’s not a case of the international figures themselves being inaccurate or unreliable but the studio’s fudging them because they don’t actually have the proper figures, there’s a difference

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

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