Box Office Briefs: Monday Blues?

Box Office Briefs: Monday Blues?

Dec 19, 2010

So who was that younger Jeff Bridges guy supposed to be again? I fell asleep during that part Saturday, and I didn't see the original Tron, so I got a little lost.

But I'm guessing I'm not too different than a lot of people who this weekend ponied up the primo 3D dollars – or like me, opted for the cheaper 2D ticket – in order to see Disney's Tron: Legacy, a decidedly underwhelming sequel to a 28-year-old movie that wasn't seen by a lot of people when it came out nearly three decades ago.

Certainly, I wasn't the only one confused by the effects-laden PG film.

"Who is that guy supposed to be," asked my bored 8-year-old son Kellen … repeatedly. "And where the hell are they?"

Now, normally when Kellen uses that kind of language, I send him to the bathroom with a bar of soap and tell him not to come out until it looks like he has rabies.

But I got him into this – he wanted to see Warner's Yogi Bear, after all – so I gave him a simple "watch-your-mouth-young-man" mulligan … and then took him into see Yogi in the next theater.

But customer satisfaction wasn't much better over there. Or as Kellen put, "Can we just go home?"

Yep, it was a stinker weekend at the domestic box office. Here are the winners and losers, but not necessarily in that order.

Losers: Debuting in 3,451 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, Tron Legacy did exactly what Disney said it would do coming into the weekend – that is, gross over $40 million (it took in an estimated $43.6 million) and set itself up to play through the holidays.

But come on: Coming out of Comic Con, this overhyped light show was supposed be HUGE. Even Wall Street analysts who spent the year harshing on 3D, like BTIG's Richard Greenfield, said they expected Tron to be a massive hit.

But a $43.6 million start for a movie that costs $170 million to make and another $120 million to market just isn't a hit. Sorry.

But the biggest loser of all this weekend had to be Sony, which saw its James L. Brooks comedy/drama How Do You Know crater to just $7.6 million.

Sony is now calling this thing, How Much Will We Lose?

Keep in mind that his movie cost the studio more than $100 million to make, with stars Jack Nicholson, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd each demanding full freight.

And it's not like people are going to discover what a wonderful movie this is and rush out to see it.

Reviews have been harsh, with critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes scoring the film at 36 percent fresh. Worse, movie customer-satisfaction grader Cinemascore gave the picture a miserable "C-minus" mark.

Warner Bros., meanwhile, isn't likely to lose money on its CG-adaptation of classic Hanna Barbera cartoon Yogi Bear … but it clearly missed the ol' pic-a-nic basket on this one, making just $16.7 million this weekend when it wanted $20 million.

If you could take Roger Ebert's brain, and put him in Kellen's 8-year-old head, he'd probably tell you, "I found the characters one-dimensional, the plot flimsy and the pacing awkward."

Winners: While the big tentpoles succumbed to the fact that the weather sucked, people were Christmas shopping – and, well, they just weren't any good – the news was better out of the pointy-headed arthouse crowd.

The big story remains the Relativity Media-produced, Paramount Pictures-distributed boxing biopic The Fighter, which grossed an impressive $12.2 million this weekend after opening up in 2,503 theaters across the U.S. and Canada … and getting six Golden Globe nominations, including nods for stars Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams.

Fox Searchlight's Darren Aronofsky kissing ballet dancers movie Black Swan also did well while undergoing major expansion, recouping $8.3 million while playing at 959 locations.

Among adult dramas entering the box office, Lionsgate's not-so-uplifting Rabbit Hole made about $54,000 opening in five theaters in L.A., New York and Toronto.

A big fan of Disney's Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, Kellen was hyped for it … until I told him it was about a married couple (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) who lose their 4-year-old kid in an accident.

Yogi it is!

Here's how the box office came out compared to our Thursday predictions.

Daniel's Crystal Ball

Tron Legacy Made: $43.6M We predicted $45.0M
Yogi Bear Made: $16.7M We predicted: $20.0M
Chronicles of Narnia 3 Made: $12.4M We predicted: $12.0M
The Fighter Made: $12.2M We predicted: $14.0M
The Tourist Made: $8.7M We predicted: $7.0M
Tangled Made: $8.7M We predicted: $8.3M
Black Swan Made: $8.3M We predicted: $8.0M
How Do You Know Made: $7.6M We predicted: $11.0M
Harry Potter 7 Made: $4.8M We predicted: $4.5M
Unstoppable Made: $1.8M We predicted: $2.0M

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