Box Office: Ender’s Game’s unremarkable gross leads unremarkable pack

Ender’s Game (62% on RottenTomatoes) grossed $28 million domestically over the weekend to beat out the weekend’s other unremarkable releases, Last Vegas ($16.52 million, 44% on RottenTomatoes) and Free Birds ($16.2 million, 21% on RottenTomatoes). All in all, a mixed bag of meh that had producers shrugging into their piles of cocaine.

Ender’s Game took first place with a decent $28 million. While that pales in comparison to the likes of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight, it is a bit of an improvement over past young-adult adaptations like The Golden Compass ($25.8 million) and Eragon ($23.2 million). It is worth noting, though, that adjusting for ticket price inflation those two titles had slightly higher initial attendance.

Overall, this isn’t a terrible start, though it’s not a particularly good one either. Marketing emphasized Harrison Ford’s gruff military commander while failing to show what it is about Ender that makes him worth rooting for. This kept the movie from really connecting with those who aren’t familiar with the source material, which is the key to success in the adaptation game. According to distributor Lionsgate/Summit, the movie’s audience was 58 percent male and 54 percent over the age of 25. [BoxOfficeMojo]

Hey, maybe they just emphasized Harrison Ford’s gruffness to match his attitude during the press tour. You stick Harrison Ford in front of dorks who are going to piss him off with Star Wars questions, you might as well try to make his curmudgeonliness a selling point. Here’s a smidge of Ford during this go round:

Between Ender’s Game and the Hunger Games franchise, why do you think we’re so entertained by kids killing one another?

HARRISON FORD:  [long pause] Beats the shit out of me. [GQ]

Most actors will tell you what kind lover their character would be and why, which makes me love the ones who utterly refuse to play yes-and.

The closest thing to an interesting angle on the weekend was that Free Birds sucked even on a weekend where it had virtually no competition.

Free Birds, the first animated movie from effects company Reel FX and from distributor Relativity Media, opened in fourth place with an estimated $16.2 million. That’s lower than Flushed Away ($18.8 million), which opened on the same date seven years ago, didn’t have 3D, and was considered a major disappointment. It’s also off from similarly-themed Chicken Run, which took in $17.5 million over 13 years ago.

Free Birds is the latest example of why a scheduling advantage doesn’t guarantee box office glory. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is basically played out, which means that Free Birds was the only major choice for family audiences this weekend. Unfortunately, the marketing dropped the ball by highlighting generic animated antics as opposed to showcasing the movie’s interesting, unique story (turkeys travel back in time to end Thanksgiving!). . [BoxOfficeMojo]

Free Birds changed its name from “Turkeys”, apparently in the hope of keeping anyone from knowing what the hell it was about. Between Free Birds, Turbo, Epic, and Frozen, this seems to be the year of giving your animated movie a boring, non-descript name that will tell people nothing about it on the off chance they can even remember.

This weekend brings us Thor 2, About Time, and a few more locations for Dallas Buyers Club. I should have a Dallas Buyers Club review for you shortly, but let’s just say that if I went on a blind date and my date turned out to be Jared Leto in drag, that’d be alright alright alright with me. He is a pretty lady. He looks like a young Patricia Arquette in a dark wig.