This was it. This was the weekend showdown people had been staring down for months. Three high-powered sequels were all going to explode all over each other like a Monty Python sketch. It practically felt like a fireworks show with everything but Neil Diamond shouting, "They're coming to America…. TODAY!" Instead, it was more like the time Nancy Reagan replaced The Beach Boys, thinking they weren't American enough, as the 4th of the July band in Washington D.C. with Wayne Newton. Sure, it's not so bad, but it's certainly not so good. Danke Schoen, indeed.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows began its investigation with $40 million, just $22 million less than the original started with in 2009. If this performs like a typical film and it just made a third of its total gross, that means this sequel will only trail the first Sherlock Holmes by $70 million. What could be wrong with that… except everything? There's a reason Wilson Phillips still sing "Hold On" every time they show up somewhere then anything off their second album, Shadows and Light, or as it's also known, Darkness and Deadweight.
In a similar vein, Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked began its voyage with $23.5 million. That's $25 million off from Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel's haul in the same weekend as Sherlock Holmes in 2009. Have the Chipmunks voices started to crack? Are people just not as interested in them singing helium versions of LMFAO songs as the already ridiculous versions of LMFAO songs? I mean, how do you make fun of stupid songs that are already stupid? Unless you've received a diploma from the School of Yankovic, any attempt is going to be less than stellar and, more importantly, lacking in any accordion accompaniment, so you're screwed from the start.
So how did a film like Sherlock Holmes that made almost $210 million dollars end-up with a sequel that dropped so suddenly? Ditto for Alvin and his Chipmunks and their "If Glee can crank out crappy covers, why not us" mentality? Maybe it's just par for the course in 2011. Happy Feet Two's opening was off about $20 million from Happy Feet One. Puss In Boots, while not an "exact" sequel, was $35 million down from Shrek Forever After' s start. Maybe this is the year we finally said, "Look, we don't want another Coldplay album. Is there something, anything, different out there that we can see?!"
If that's the case, though, how can folks explain the unprecedented surge of interest in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol? This was a film that couldn't even decide whether it was a Mission: Impossible film or a Ghost Protocol film if you look at what titles were more prominent in the heading of the poster. Instead of delivering even weaker numbers than Mission: Impossible III, it delivered a truly impossible debut of $13 million from only 425 screens. That was a haul of almost $30,000 per screening versus the $10,000 per showing Sherlock Holmes 2 delivered. Are you trying to tell me people were three times as interested in Tom Cruise's latest escapades over Robert Downey Jr.'s? Let's be clear, it's not like people saw Jack & Jill and said, "Katie Holmes was so amazing in this, I'd love to see what her husband, whats-his-name, is in next."
Certainly, many will claim that the sneak peak of The Dark Knight Rises played a huge factor into that limited Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. However, that preview only played in 42 of the 425 screenings. Obviously, I'd have been a very ticked ticket buyer as I thought the preview was attached to all of the screens, yet assuming there are people smarter than me in the universe (and the Dark Knight geeks count), they would've known this and been able to avoid spending their money unless it was a sure thing. That means people actually saw this movie because they wanted to, and as someone who predicted Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows would perform better, I just threw-up a little in my mouth.
Where did that leave last week's underperformers? New Year's Eve dropped like a normal New York City ball by 43% and The Sitter got stiffed on the tip by 55%. Sitting un-respectively at $24.8 and $17.7 million, neither of these films are even going to be remembered when they're released on DVD in two weeks. Studios are going to kill themselves over surrendering last weekend to a faceless romantic comedy and unremarkable stoner comedy. Police Academy 8 could've done better than these films with or without the Guttenberg.
Before poolers start throwing themselves out of single story windows, they should try to take some condolence in the fact that both Sherlock and Alvin could hold strong over the Holiday Break period and end up with their expected huge grosses. That, or the flurry of new releases like The Adventures of Tintin, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, and wide release of M:I 4 - Ghost Protocol completely bury them and leave them for dead. There is no middle ground.
As to the Top Five, The Muppets finally pulled their hands out of Jack & Jill and those wannabes collapsed like a Wesley Snipes tax evasion plea bargain. Adam Sandler, you will not pass go, you will not collect $200, and you most certainly won't have another $100 million hit on your hands. No wonder a Grown Ups sequel was announced a week ago.
The 2011 Holiday Movie Pool Top Five (If Today Was MLK Day):
#1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 - $266.4 million
#2. Puss in Boots - $142.8 million
#3. Immortals - $81.9 million
#4. Tower Heist - $75.8 million
#5. The Muppets - $70.9 million
by Matt Neuenburg on 12/19/2011
Movies Mentioned in this Post:
Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked,
Jack and Jill,
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,
New Year's Eve,
Puss in Boots,
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1,