I'm clairvoyant when it comes to CG family films.
I can't predict the weather, NBA scores, traffic or my wife's emotions, but I can tell you when a major studio like Universal -- which told me Hop was only going to do around $28 million this weekend -- is sandbagging.
I was foolish not to trust my instincts and put those predictions in writing -- I sheepishly went along with the studio and listed $28 mil in our Thursday predictions (see below). But I kind of knew, based the reactions of my own kids to the movie's outdoor signage over the last few weeks, that the Easter Bunny-themed Hop could very well end up over-performing at the box office this weekend.
And that it did, grossing a market-leading $38.1 million, besting competitors including Source Code ($15 million) and Insidious ($12.9 million).
Voice-starring Brit comedian Russell Brand as the CG bunny, Hop is the second film based on a collaboration between Universal Pictures and producer Christopher Meledandri, the Ice Age mastermind who rendered Despicable Me for hit-starved Universal last summer.
Grossing well over $500 mil at the global box office, and voice-starring Steve Carell as soft-hearted evil genius Gru, Despicable proved nothing short of a revelation, geeking up critics and audiences alike, and spurring talk that Universal could now play with big-boy animation studios like Disney/Pixar and DreamWorks Animation in terms of quality family entertainment.
For its part, Hop arrived in theaters loathed by critics and with box office predictions not nearly in the same punching class as Despicable ... but you can't underestimate the "cute and cuddly" factor.
If a studio can do TV commercials and outdoor ads featuring cute bunnies and baby chicks, then screw the critics (who collectively gave Hop a way weak 24 percent Rotten Tomatoes score) -- the movie is going to resonate with kids.
It's the same reason in reverse why Disney's Mars Needs Moms proved to be such a spectacular dud. The movie, made by a big-time pro in Robert Zemeckis, wasn't nearly that bad, and the 3D images were pretty cool. But there was nothing cute and cuddly at all about its funky-looking, cold, motion-capture characters.
Source Code, meanwhile, performed pretty much as predicted, with star Jake Gyllenhaal still yet to prove that he can lead an action-thriller -- even one with great reviews and a kick-ass sci-fi concept.
And Paranormal Activity mastermind Oren Peli once again proved he can spin horror gold out of old shoelaces, taking $1.5 million -- lottery money compared to what he's worked with in the past -- and weaving together a well-regarded film in Insidious that will recoup many more times its initial investment.
Here's how the top 10 finished compared to our Thursday predictions:
|Hop ||Made: $38.1M ||We predicted: $28.0M |
|Source Code ||Made: $15.0M || We predicted: $17.0M|
| Insidious ||Made: $12.9M ||We predicted: $11.0M|
| Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules ||Made: $10.2M ||We predicted: $11.5M|
| Limitless ||Made: $9.4M ||We predicted: $10.0M|
| The Lincoln Lawyer ||Made: $7.1M ||We predicted: $8.0M|
| Sucker Punch ||Made: $6.1M ||We predicted: $7.5M|
| Rango ||Made: $4.6M ||We predicted: $6.0M|
| Paul ||Made: $4.3M ||We predicted: $5.0M|
| Battle: Los Angeles ||Made: $3.5M ||We predicted: $4.0M|