Four new wide releases opened this weekend, but all of them underwhelmed. The winners were holdovers, especially Think Like a Man. The ensemble romantic comedy, which features a primarily black cast, dropped by half to earn $18.8 million, making it the most successful movie to open this April. Audiences' foreknowledge of comedian/author Steve Harvey probably helped distinguish this feature from similar offerings, and the thumbs-ups from audiences in exit polls last week likely drove their friends to the box office this week.
British animation company Aardman Entertainment has never opened a film above $20 million in the U.S. However, since it's been two months since a new animated film graced the screen, many were hoping Pirates! The Band of Misfits could open above $11.4 million. It didn't, and audiences gave the stop-motion animated 3D film a so-so "B" rating in exit polls. Still, the family-friendly feature has earned over $60 million overseas, so the totals stateside are just one piece of the pie.
The Five-Year Engagement was trounced by the holdover romantic comedy Think Like a Man, debuting to just $11.1 million. Universal expected the Jason Segel-Emily Blunt vehicle to open close to 50% higher. While there are a lot of reasons flying around for this discrepancy, age and exit polls are the biggies. 57% of viewers were over thirty, while younger people are more avid moviegoers, indicating the plot may have turned off younger audiences. Exit polls gave the movie a "B-" rating, not surprising since it was billed as "from the producer of Bridesmaids" while being quite a bit different from that raunchy comedy.
Safe opened on the low end even for a Jason Statham movie, finishing with $7.7 million. Core Statham fans, older-skewing males, did turn out, but they were lukewarm on the action outing, giving it a "B+" CinemaScore.
The Raven, which finished with $7.2 million, generated some of the most creative critical put-downs I've seen in some time. My favorite was this Gawker headline, "I Fell Asleep 17 Times During The Raven." The only people who seemed to think this Edgar Allan Poe-tracks-down-a-serial-killer-who-quoth-his-stories tale was cool were under the age of 25. I think it’s fair to say that audiences still showing their IDs for R-rated movies are more easily wowed.
Bernie, a dark comedy starring Jack Black, opened amazingly well with a $30,000 per-screen average on three screens. Despite a lot of indie street cred, Sound of My Voice had a more tepid debut, averaging $8,000 per screen in five locations.
The Avengers will kick off the "summer" movie season this Friday. No other studio dares open a film against this superhero extravaganza, which will set the tone for summer 2012.