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Weekend Report: ‘Proposal’ Pops to the Top, ‘Year One’ Lacks Stones

by Brandon Gray
Sandra Bullock and Betty White in The Proposal
 

 
June 21, 2009

The Proposal engaged enough moviegoers to lead the weekend box office and deliver by far the biggest opening of star Sandra Bullock's career. Couple that with strong holds for The Hangover and Up and an okay start for Year One, and overall business rose five percent over the same weekend last year, when Get Smart opened in first.

On approximately 4,100 screens at 3,056 sites, The Proposal rang up $33.6 million, which was on the high end for a romantic comedy and a career best not only for Ms. Bullock (beating the Speed movies adjusted for ticket price inflation) but for co-star Ryan Reynolds (in a leading role) as well. Distributor Walt Disney Pictures' exit polling indicated that 63 percent of moviegoers were female and 86 percent were 18 years and older, while 71 percent were classified as "couples." The picture's premise of a demanding boss proposing marriage to her put-upon assistant to avoid deportation offered several trusty themes to garner audience acceptance. There was the opposites attract angle and the adversarial relationship leading to love as well as humor from the charade and fish-out-of-water situations, arising from the characters visiting family in Alaska. It all played to the strengths of the stars (this is the type of picture audiences enjoy seeing Ms. Bullock in), and Disney's clearly-wrought marketing campaign took advantage.

Considering that audiences would have to be clubbed and dragged to similar movies of yore, Year One fared decently in its debut, plucking a $19.6 million debut on around 3,600 screens at 3,022 sites, though its status as a high profile summer release featuring Jack Black and Michael Cera would dampen its performance rating. Making more in a few hours than the combined totals of Being Human and Idiocracy, Year One's opening was better attended than The Love Guru and Meet the Spartans among recent titles and Wholly Moses and Caveman among older ones, though History of the World, Part I should ultimately remain the modern benchmark with the total gross equivalent of around $82 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. Year One's audience composition was 57 percent male and 47 percent under 21 years old, according to distributor Sony Pictures.

Michael Cera and Jack Black in Year One

While Year One got stoned, The Hangover didn't sober up. The ribald comedy had a sensational third weekend, grossing $26.8 million in second place and lifting its total to $152.8 million in 17 days. It was down only 18 percent from last weekend, which was a lower decline with a bigger gross than Wedding Crashers at the same point.

Surging to the top spot on Father's Day Sunday, Up let out only 24 percent more air, coming in at $23.5 million (54 percent of which from 3D presentations). With a stellar $226.3 million in 24 days, it surpassed the final tally of WALL-E. In its second weekend, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 relinquished 49 percent of its already ho-hum debut, pulling in $12 million. The drop was steeper than lead actor Denzel Washington's previous thrillers, and the movie's tally stands at $44.1 million in ten days.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian held well, off 19 percent to $7.8 million for $156.5 million in 31 days, but Star Trek saw the smallest decline of all nationwide releases. In fact, the sci-fi adventure had a one percent uptick to $5.5 million, and it can now lay claim to the biggest Star Trek movie adjusted for ticket price inflation. With $240.3 million in 45 days, it edged past Star Trek: The Motion Picture on that front, though it may still have a ways to go in terms of attendance: around $22.3 million of the new Trek's total comes from IMAX runs, which typically cost a few bucks more than regular shows.

Meanwhile, on Father's Day, 20th Century Fox held sneak previews for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs at 330 venues and reported they played at 90 percent capacity on average. The animated sequel opens July 1.

Last Weekend
Lush 'Hangover,' 'Up' Linger Over Typical 'Taking'

This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2008 - 'Get Smart' Wins, 'Love Guru' Loses
• 2007 - 'Evan' All Wet, '1408' Occupied
• 2006 - Sandler Controls Box Office Again
• 2005 - 'Batman' Sweeps 'Bewitched,' Swats Bug

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Weekend Box Office Results
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