‘Night at the Museum’ Wins Box Office Battle, No Salvation for ‘Terminator’

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian handily beat Terminator Salvation to lead a decent Memorial Day weekend at the box office. While neither film came close to topping last year’s holiday blockbuster, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the combined haul from the pair of sequels was comparable to Indy‘s fourth outing.

Smithsonian uncovered a healthy $70.1 million from a mega-wide 4,096 theaters over the Friday-to-Monday holiday frame. The $54.2 million figure from the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period was the largest opening for a live-action family film so far this year and the highest ever for its star, Ben Stiller. This number represents a substantial improvement over the original Night at the Museum, which opened to $42.2 million over the Friday-to-Monday Christmas weekend in 2006. The December release date allowed Night at the Museum to display strong legs finishing with $250.9 million. That total will be hard to match, even with a much heftier opening from Smithsonian, in part, because of direct competition in the weeks ahead from Disney/Pixar’s Up on May 29 and the big screen adaptation of Land of the Lost on June 5. Still, 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the family comedy, should be very pleased with the result, which came in above most industry expectations. Smithsonian was able to take advantage of being the first major family film since Monsters Vs. Aliens landed in March.

The news is not quite as rosy for Warner Bros., which continues to see disappointing results from Terminator Salvation. Salvation‘s Friday figure of $14.8 million was a little higher than its Thursday debut, but the sci-fi sequel could not keep its momentum on Saturday as it suffered a 2% drop to $14.5 million. The final figure for the five day extended launch stands at $65.3 million, over $7 million lower than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines‘ first five days despite six years of inflation. The official Friday-to-Monday tally was $51.9 million and $42.6 million from 3,530 theaters Friday-to-Sunday. Even the casting of Christian “Batman” Bale wasn’t enough to reinvigorate the stagnating franchise.

Star Trek posted an impressive hold during its third outing with $22.9 million over the Fri-to-Sun period, a 47% retreat from last weekend. Monday was strong for the reboot, which boosted the four day figure to $29.4 million. Trek  weathered competition from two different fronts. Moviegoers were given another sci-fi option in the form of Terminator Salvation, and, in addition, Smithsonian swiped most of Trek‘s IMAX screens, which have provided a very significant portion of the grosses for Captain Kirk and company. With $191 million in the bank, the Paramount release should complete its journey in the vicinity of $250 million.

Angels & Demons continues to lag far behind its predecessor with a $27.4 million holiday weekend. The $21.7 million figure from Fri-to-Sun was off 53% from its debut compared to 56% for The Da Vinci Code, which opened much stronger. The 11 day bounty for the adult thriller stands at $87.5 million and should finish with around $130 million.

The latest attempt at spoof, Dance Flick, opened with a passable $12.6 million from 2,450 theaters, which includes $2 million from the Monday holiday. The latest from the Wayans clan did not cost too much to make so profitability will still happen, eventually.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine continues to hold admirably since collapsing in its second weekend. The Friday-to-Sunday figure was off 45% and the weekend total including Monday was $9.9 million upping the haul to $165.2 million. $180 million is the target.

In seventh, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past posted the smallest decline among wide releases with a 42% descent. The total climbed to $46.9 million in 25 days. Obsessed was one spot behind with $2.4 million over the four day period upping the cume to an impressive $66.3 million.

Monsters Vs. Aliens took a direct hit from Smithsonian but still hung on for one more weekend in the top ten. The $193.7 million for the DreamWorks Animation is the heftiest of the year so far, although Star Trek will pass it up shortly. The gross will not climb much higher since Up will be taking away most of its digital 3-D screens on Friday. 17 Again captured the final spot in top ten despite dropping 70%. The total for the Zac Efron fantasy comedy is a solid $60.6 million.

On the limited release front, The Brothers Bloom expanded from 4 to 52 theaters and grossed a decent $495,527 raising the total to $618,195. The indie pic will continue to add theaters in the weeks ahead. The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderbergh’s latest arthouse experiment, debuted in 30 specialty theaters and attracted $204,112 from Fri-to-Mon, solid considering it’s already available on pay-per-view. Girlfriend stars adult film star turned Hollywood actress Sasha Grey.

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Box Office Data Source: Box Office Mojo

‘Terminator Salvation’ Lackluster on Thursday

Terminator Salvation prepared for battle a day early with a solid but disappointing $13.4 million Thursday launch from 3,480 theaters. That’s slightly more than half of the $25 million opening day from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was unleashed on the same Thursday last year. Indy was able to surge to $126.9 million over the Friday-Monday Memorial Day weekend thanks to strong family support. If Salvation follows the same pattern, the weekend total would be a respectable $70 million. Unfortunately for the Christian Bale starring film, despite the kid-friendly PG-13 rating, families have another option this year in the form of Ben Stiller.

Warner Bros. had hoped to revive the fledging franchise after the disappointing showing of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. Salvation’s trailer debuted in front of another WB juggernaut, The Dark Knight, last summer, which also starred Bale. After all, Bale was a key component in the resurrection of the Batman franchise. Unfortunately, the franchise may have not been as popular today as WB had hoped for. “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” was recently cancelled after struggling through two seasons on Fox.

As far as how the weekend should play out for the sci-fi action pic, Friday’s numbers should be about the same as Thursday. There should be a slight uptick on Saturday to about $14.5 million and then a 10% decline on Sunday for about $13 million. Monday should bring in an additional $10 million for a $51 million weekend tally and $64 million including Thursday. That would be a poor showing considering the $200 million price tag.

Another sequel will be released on Friday in the form of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian at a mega-wide 4,096 theaters. In addition to the excellent release date, the PG-rated comedy is the first major family film in nearly two months. The original opened during the month of December, a release date which doesn’t generally yield massive opening weekends but instead the holidays allow films to display long legs. That’s exactly what Night at the Museum did with it’s $250.9 million domestic total, which was more than eight times the opening weekend. That kind of longevity will not happen for the latest Museum, but a much larger opening will help it keep pace. Ben Stiller’s latest should debut to a nice $60 million four day start.

Meanwhile, Star Trek held extraordinarily well in the face of direct competition. The $3 million it earned on Thursday was only 4% lower than Wednesday. The only downside for the sci-fi reboot is the loss of most of its IMAX screens on Friday to Night at the Museum 2. Still, strong word-of-mouth should carry it to $30 million over the long weekend for a fantastic running total of $192 million.

Angels & Demons has been slipping at a faster rate than Star Trek during the week so it should end up fourth for the weekend. The $2.6 million tally on Thursday brought the opening week total to $60.1 million, which is 41% lower than its predecessor’s first seven days. No one was expecting Angels & Demons to earn as much because of a less appealing storyline and mixed reactions to The Da Vinci Code scaring away many moviegoers. The good news for A&D is the second weekend drop-off should be less severe. Look for $28 million over the weekend for $88 million in 10 days.

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Box Office Data Source: Box Office Mojo