Don’t call it a comeback, but the lion hasn’t been tamed yet. In somewhat of a surprise, MGM’s “Hot Tub Time Machine” was one of three pictures to out preform initial weekend estimates at the box office this past weekend.
Originally anticipated to do $13.5 million, the John Cusack comedy instead pulled in $14.02 million when all the grosses were tabulated on Monday morning. And, “Hot Tub” wasn’t the only over-performer. Both “How To Train Your Dragon” and “Alice in Wonderland” had similar $500,000 jumps. “Dragon” ended up with $43.7 million (vs. $43.3 million) and “Alice” conjured up $17.7 million (vs. $17.3 million). In terms of weekend box office watching this is incredibly rare. Even with a conservative eye, a film will traditionally come in under studio estimates, not over. Recent films to buck that trend include “Paranormal” and “Avatar,” but they are the exception and not the rule. It’s unclear why the top three were all off on Sunday, but it appears the Elite Eight games and nice weather on the West Coast didn’t affect ticket sales as much as anticipated.
For “Hot Tub,” a comedy that had mostly positive reviews this is only good news. Contrary to some public reports, the film only cost $35 million. Sources reveal that exit polls had audience’s definite recommends well over the average across all demos. If word of mouth continues to be that strong, it has a chance of cracking at least breaking even. Considering how tough times are at MGM these days with the studio on the auction block, that would be some welcome good news.
As for “How To Train Your Dragon,” the DreamWorks Animated film may have received the best reviews in the history of the company, but that didn’t mean Wall Street was thrilled with the weekend gross. After coming in under the $59 million “Monsters vs. Aliens” racked up a year ago, “Dragon’s” soft opening caused the studio’s stock to fall 8.1%. While a few analysts were recommending their clients sell, others were still bullish on the company with “Shrek Forever After” and November’s “Megamind” in the wings.
This upcoming weekend the box office should light up with a monster opening expected for Warner Bros. “Clash of the Titans.” It may also determine the long term fates of both “Dragon” and “Hot Tub.”