Was The Race(r) Fixed?
Warner Bros. on Monday was being accused of cooking the books Monday after it turned out that their box-office estimate for the opening weekend of Speed Racer was way off the mark. The studio had predicted that the film would wind up with $20.2 million in ticket sales, putting it in second place. "It's far from the first time a studio with an underperforming pic has overestimated its Sunday gross and avoided an embarrassing third-place finish in Monday morning box office stories," Daily Variety commented today (Tuesday). The estimated figure, not the final one, is the one that receives the most play in the press -- if for no other reason than that Sunday is ordinarily a light news day. Few analysts had believed the studio's estimate, given the movie's weak showing on Friday and Saturday. (Weekend estimates include actual figures for Friday and Saturday and estimated sales for Sunday.) As things turned out, the movie debuted with just $18.6 million -- a figure that will no doubt cause heads eventually to fall at the studio, which reportedly spent $250-300 million to produce and market it. Taking over second place was the debuting romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas from 20th Century Fox, which wound up with $20.2 million, the same amount that had been forecast for Speed Racer. Meanwhile, the second weekend of Iron Man earned $51.2 million, more than the debuts of Vegas and Racer put together, keeping it in first place.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media
by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Iron Man, Paramount, $51,190,629, 2 Wks. ($177,825,024); 2. What Happens in Vegas, Fo x, $20,172,474, (New); 3. Speed Racer, Warner Bros., $18,561,337, (New); 4. Made of Honor, Sony, $8,116,323, 2 Wks. ($26,791,494); 5. Baby Mama, Universal, $6,225,790, 3 Wks. ($40,836,370); 6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Universal, $3,837,240, 4 Wks. ($50,781,745); 7. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay, Warner Bros., $3,106,424, 3 Wks. ($30,667,308); 8 . The Forbidden Kingdom, Lionsgate, $2,169,323, 4 Wks. ($48,530,104); 9. Nim's Island, Fox, $1,463,622, 6 Wks. ($44,395,857); 10. Prom Night, Sony, $1,012,986, 5 Wks. ($42,785,107).