'Date Night' and 'Titans' too close to call, but 'Dragon' is a winner at the box office
With 20th Century Fox's weekend estimate for "Date Night" just $225,000 higher than Warner Bros.' estimate for "Clash of the Titans," either film could easily end up ranked No. 1 when final ticket sales for Sunday are tallied.
Regardless of the final order, however, Fox and its financing partner Dune Entertainment can be pleased that "Date Night," which stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, opened to about $27 million, a solid start given its $55-million production budget.
"It really doesn't matter whether it's first place, it's still a terrific number," said Bert Livingston, senior vice president of domestic distribution for Fox.
"How to Train Your Dragon" has a slimmer chance of ending up No. 1 but could still do it as distributor Paramount Pictures estimated that it took in $25.3 million this weekend. More importantly, the movie's ticket sales fell only 13%, an extremely small amount that indicates fantastic buzz is driving a very long run at the box office.
DreamWorks Animation has continued to support "Dragon" since it opened two weeks ago with ads that emphasize its positive reviews -- the strongest ever for a film from the studio -- a strategy that appears to be paying off. Despite a less-than-impressive $43.7-million debut, the movie has now hit $134 million and appears well on its way to $200 million.
"We knew word-of-mouth would be extraordinary, but this has really exceeded everyone's expectation," said Anne Globe, DreamWorks Animation head of worldwide marketing.
"Dragon" has taken in $148 million internationally so far.
"Clash of the Titans," meanwhile, had a sizable but not huge second-weekend drop of 56%, bringing up its domestic total to a healthy $110.5 million. Overseas, the 3-D blockbuster added another $54 million from 31 territories, bringing its international total to $119.2 million.
Christian drama "Letters from God" opened to a weak $1.25 million in 897 theaters around the country.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
1. "Date Night" (Fox/Dune Entertainment): Opened to $27.1 million. $7.1 million overseas in 35 foreign markets.
2. "Clash of the Titans" (Warner/Legendary): $26.9 million on its second weekend, down 56%. $54 million overseas in 31 foreign territories. Domestic total: $110.5 million. International total: $119.2 million.
3. "How to Train Your Dragon" (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount): $25.3 million down 13% on its third weekend. $23.7 million overseas in 55 foreign markets. Domestic total: $133.9 million. International total: $148.1 million.
4. "Why Did I Get Married Too" (Lionsgate): $11 million on its second weekend, down 62%. Domestic total: $48.5 million.
5. "The Last Song" (Disney): $10 million on its second weekend, down 37%. Domestic total: $42.4 million.
6. "Alice in Wonderland" (Disney): $5.6 million on its sixth weekend, down 32%. $19 million overseas in 51 foreign markets. Domestic total: $319.3 million. International total: $461.5 million.
7. "Hot Tub Time Machine" (MGM): $5.4 million on its third weekend, down 33%. Domestic total: $37 million.
8. "The Bounty Hunter" (Sony/Relativity): $4.3 million, down 29% on its fourth weekend. Domestic total: $56 million.
9. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Fox 2000): $4.1 million on its fourth weekend, down 23%. Domestic total: $53.8 million.
10. "Letters to God" (Vivendi): Opened to $1.25 million.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo credit: DreamWorks Animation