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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

North American box office: ‘Dragon’ flies high…

…but not as high as it might have:

1. How to Train Your Dragon: $43.7 million (NEW)
2. Alice in Wonderland: $17.7 million (4th week; drops 48%)
3. Hot Tub Time Machine: $14 million (NEW)
4. The Bounty Hunter: $12 million (2nd week; drops 42%)
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: $10.1 million (2nd week; drops 54%)

actual numbers, not estimates
Did you see how 3D ticket prices jumped up this past weekend? (In NYC, it’s up a buck to $17.50… and that’s before the service charge.) Given that, How to Train Your Dragon probably should have done better than it did, especially since Monsters vs. Aliens — the previous DreamWorks animated flick; it opened this time last year — debuted with a much stronger $59.3 million. I suspect, though, that the almost universally rapturous reviews and good word of mouth will see it drop very little — or maybe even rise a little — over the upcoming Easter weekend, especially with no new competition for the family audience.

The debut of Clash of the Titans this Thursday will not stop Alice in Wonderland from passing $300 million this coming weekend (or perhaps before we even get to the weekend), even though the new film will steal 3D screens from Burton’s flick. Obviously, the postproduction conversion of Alice from 2D to 3D hasn’t hurt the film; we’ll see if that holds for Titans (though the advance buzz is not positive).

Why did Hot Tub Time Machine flop? (And it is a flop, with an announced production budget of $36 million and a real number maybe as high as $50 million — which seems preposterous for what it is and how cheap it looks — and expectations that were anticipating another Hangover.) The speculation is beginning but, you know, it’s just a really bad movie. Isn’t that enough?

Speaking of budgets: I was stunned to discover that the announced budget of Repo Men is only $32 million — it looks a lot richer than that. The production designers did a much better job than the screenwriters, however: it’s a terrible fillm, and maybe audiences agree with me, because it plunged 51 percent in its second week to No. 9, and won’t recoup even that modest production cost. Green Zone, too — which cost $100 million, a looks like it — is gonna be a huge flop: it’s earned only a little over $30 million in its three weeks in play, and it surely will all but disappear this coming weekend.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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