The Green Hornet Tops Holiday Box Office Weekend

Sony’s delayed action comedy The Green Hornet opened with respectable numbers at the North America box office over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The 3D flick starring Seth Rogen posted decent but not spectacular numbers while Universal’s Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma faced one of its own in the form of middling debut numbers. Overall, the box office continued to lag behind previous years as this weekend saw a 25% drop from the same time last year. It was also, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the lowest MLK weekend top ten in four years. Please note that the grosses reported in this article are for the 3-Day Weekend estimates.

After a troubled production history and a shift in release date from December 22nd to January 14th in order to complete a post-production conversion to 3D, Sony finally got their $110 million update of the 1930s radio serial – and 1960s television series – The Green Hornet out the door to the tune of $34 million from a very wide 3,584 screen count. Opening the film in the less-competitive January time frame paid off to an extent. Of course those 3D and IMAX surcharges certainly helped inflate the numbers, as they have for every release in the past year post-Avatar.

But given the amount of screens and lack of competition, one has to wonder if Sony was hoping for more. Sure, the film posted the second best MLK Weekend opening for a film, but a $34 million start for a $110 million production (that’s before advertising) can’t be enough to break out the champagne. Reviews were largely negative for the Seth Rogen and Cameron Diaz film, culminating in a 44% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Overseas The Green Hornet opened in 35 markets for a weekend haul of $16 million.

The news wasn’t so bright for the new Ron Howard-directed comedy The Dilemma which landed in second place with a mediocre $17.4 million in its debut on 2,940 screens. The Vince Vaughn and Kevin James starrer attracted bad buzz several months ago due to a controversial use of the term “gay” in its trailer, which was quickly removed (from the previews, not the film itself). But it wasn’t the term use that caused the film to sputter out of the gate in its first three days. It was more likely the laugh-free television ads and the majority of negative reviews (25% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) that sealed the deal.

Third place went to Paramount’s hit western True Grit which eased a slight 23% to corral an estimated $11.2 million for a new four-week total of $126.4 million. With the film hanging tough, Paramount should see this smash hit keep plowing right along through the late winter no matter how many Oscar nominations it may or may not receive (my money is on the latter).

The Weinstein Company took advantage of the holiday weekend to give its Oscar contender The King’s Speech a wider release by doubling its screen count from 758 to 1,543 theaters. The end result was a majestic $9.1 million estimated haul. With a total of $44.5 million so far, the movie could reach as high as $75-80 million depending on how many Oscar nominations – and awards – the film collects. Awards or no, the film is everything the struggling studio has been wishing for since Inglourious Basterds opened in 2009: a genuine box office hit.

Also taking advantage of the weekend to expand its screen count to 2,328 screens (up 750 from last weekend) was Fox Searchlight’s sleeper hit Black Swan. In its seventh weekend, Natalie Portman and company added an estimated $8.1 million to its coffers which now stand at $73 million. Strong reviews and word-of-mouth have propelled the movie so far, and the upcoming Oscars should help the movie coast by the $100 million mark quite easily.

Dropping four places to sixth for the weekend was Universal’s hit comedy Little Fockers. The Ben Stiller comedy took a 47% hit to an estimated $7.1 million and a new total of approximately $134.4 million to date. Domestically the film should call it a day with $145-150 million in the kitty. Overseas, the Fockers have collected $111 million to bring the film’s global total to $245 million.

Despite losing a majority of its 3D and IMAX screens to The Green Hornet, Disney’s Tron: Legacy managed to sustain itself to a certain degree in landing in seventh place. Off 43% while losing 574screens, the film lightcycled its way to an estimated $5.6 million from 2,439 theaters, bringing its total to $157 million. The $170 million mark is still a possibility for the high-tech sequel.

Eighth place went to Warner’s 3D kiddie flick Yogi Bear which earned $5.3 million from 2,702 screens in its fifth weekend. Its total now stands at $82 million. The film has shown some decent legs over the past few weeks including this weekend’s 19% drop from the previous round. The drop was the smallest one in the top ten.

In ninth place and refusing to quit in its sixth round was Paramount’s The Fighter, adding another $5.1 million to its overall total standing at $65.7 million. Like Swan, Grit and King’s Speech, the David O. Russell-directed drama has been holding strong (off only 27% this weekend) thanks to strong reviews and word-of-mouth. Like the aforementioned trio, the film is also poised to get a second wind thanks to Oscar nominations and possible awards (well, one award for the film is pretty much a lock).

Suffering a steep 58% drop from its weak debut last weekend was Relativity Pictures’ dud Season of the Witch. The Nicolas Cage medieval flick earned $4.5 million over the weekend to bring its ten-day total to roughly $18 million. A $25 million total is expected prior to a quick trip to your local Redbox kiosk. Last week’s other opener, the Screen Gems musical drama Country Strong, proved to be a box office weakling as it dropped out of the top ten in its second round. Down 47%, the Gwyneth Paltrow feature collected $3.5 million to bring its total to an out-of-tune $13.3 million.

Next weekend the Natalie Portman relationship comedy No Strings Attached debuts in wide release, while the latest film from the great Australian filmmaker Peter Weir, The Way Back, arrives in 650 theaters.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.