Weekend Box Office: G.I. JOE: RETALIATION Locks Down Second Best Easter Opening of All Time

     March 31, 2013


As expected, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, wound up on top this weekend. The action sequel earned an estimated $41.2 million from 3,719 locations, or $51.7 million including its Thursday debut. In terms of Easter openings, that is the second-highest ever, behind the $61.2 million of 2010’s Clash of the Titans. Tyler Perry’s Temptation was also a draw, leaving The Host the only new release to struggle over the 2013 Easter frame.

 Title Weekend   Total
1.  G.I. Joe: Retaliation $41,200,000   $51.7
2.  The Croods $26,500,000   $88.6
3.  Tyler Perry’s Temptation $22,300,000   $22.3
4.  Olympus Has Fallen $14,000,000   $54.7
5.  Oz the Great & Powerful $11,605,000   $198.2
6.  The Host $11,002,000   $11
7.  The Call $4,800,000   $39.4
8.  Admission $3,252,900   $11.7
9.  Spring Breakers $2,758,000   $10
10.  The Incredible Burt Wonderstone $1,300,000   $20.5

gi_joe_retaliation_poster_finalEver since G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra opened in August 2009, there has been constant speculation surrounding the fate of its sequel. Originally scheduled for June 2012, G.I Joe: Retaliation finally made it to theatres last Thursday; earning $10.5 million with its midnight and Wednesday previews added. Early projections put Retaliation over $45 million for its first weekend; and while that didn’t happen, the sequel at least matched its studio’s more modest expectations and even provided them a record (of sorts) to boast of.

Box office columns tend to play-up records, but it is important to note that securing the second-best Easter opening of all-time is not exactly a coup. Until recently, Easter weekends did not produce big openings; a point underscored by the fact that the 3D Retaliation barely edged out 2006’s 2D Scary Movie 4 for second place. Still, you have to hand it to Joe. Though the sequel did not come close to the $54.7 million opening of its predecessor, it certainly avoided the embarrassment that many believed was inevitable.

Paramount marketed G.I. Joe: Retaliation as “the year’s first blockbuster,” though history did not support their assertion. The follow-up to The Rise of Cobra was pulled from its prime summer release date when its limitations became obvious. Along with a conversion to 3D, the delay allowed for reshoots, including more scenes with Channing Tatum. The delay probably saved Retaliation from the fate of its predecessor (Cobra being generally reviled by genre fans), but the move was not seen as a good omen.

In the end, however, the increased notoriety probably helped the sequel at the box office. The film is already outperforming its predecessor in its international territories and, because it reportedly cost less to produce (even with the reshoots), its long-term prospects appear favorable. Many will still take issue with Paramount’s “first blockbuster” title (remember Oz the Great and Powerful?), but more will agree that Retaliation kept the G.I Joe franchise alive with this weekend’s win.

the-host-posterTyler Perry has become something of an Easter weekend fixture. Since 2008, the director has released four features for the holiday – reaching his greatest success with the $29.2 million of Why Did I Get Married Too?. Temptation may have fallen short of that particular Perry record, but it still managed to top pre-release expectations – and most of the director’s recent (non-Madea) releases – by a sizable margin.  And because the 2D Temptation opened in fewer locations (2,407), its per-theatre average of $10,894 looks far more impressive than the $11,078 average G.I. Joe claimed from 3,719 theatres (about half in 3D).

Overall, this Easter weekend wound up as the second-highest in box office history, behind the 2010 frame featuring Clash of the Titans and Why Did I get Married Too?. That year also saw big assists from the teen-centric The Last Song and the animated holdover How to Train Your Dragon. Three years later, The Croods has done its part (down just 39% in its sophomore frame) while the year’s teen-targeted title ended up a misfire.

Based on the 2008 novel by Stephanie Meyers, The Host earned just $11 million from 3,202 locations. While that is certainly better than the $7.5 million that Beautiful Creatures claimed a few weeks back, it is way under what you might expect from a film coming “from the author of the Twilight series.” Back in February 2011, I Am Number Four, another teen, sci-fi title, opened with $19.4 million… and that was without the name ‘Stephanie Meyers’ attached.

I mentioned that this holiday weekend ranks second on the list of Easter grosses; but because Easter does not always fall on the same weekend, overall grosses wound up slightly below 2012’s non-holiday frame. Thanks again, The Hunger Games! Next weekend brings us the much-anticipated rebirth of Evil Dead. The name alone has a legendary cult appeal, so here’s hoping that translates to its box office.

evil dead poster red

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