'Date Night' solid, 'How to Train Your Dragon' durable at box office

Ben Fritz
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Steve Carrell and Tina Fey fought the "Titans" to a virtual dead heat atop the box office this weekend, but "How to Train Your Dragon" came out the biggest winner.

Demonstrating that the latest release from DreamWorks Animation is benefitting more from strong word-of-mouth than the ad campaign at launch, ticket sales for "Dragon" declined a mere 13 percent on the film's third weekend, putting it on the way to success despite a tepid opening. "Dragon" took in $25.4 million this weekend.

"Date Night," which stars "The Office's" Carrell and "30 Rock's" Fey, opened to a solid $27.1 million. The estimated three-day total from distributor 20th Century Fox was just $225,000 higher than Warner Bros.' estimated $26.9 million second weekend take for "Clash of the Titans," essentially putting the two films in a tie as final weekend grosses were tallied late Sunday.

At least two major studios not associated with either movie estimated on Sunday that "Titans" had grossed slightly more than its competitors. More people saw "Date Night," however, since unlike its competitor, it didn't get a revenue boost from ticket price surcharges at 3-D screens.

Regardless of the ranking, "Date Night" turned in a fairly good debut above estimates based on pre-release tracking. Fox and its co-financier Dune Entertainment spent $55 million to produce the film. "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.

It remains to be seen, however, whether "Date Night" will have enough momentum from adults over 25, who made up 60 percent of opening weekend ticket buyers, to end up a hit. Audiences gave it a so-so average grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

Post-opening momentum has proved potent for "Dragon," which has overcome a disappointing first weekend to become a full fledged hit. Despite debuting to just $43.7 million, $16 million less than "Monsters vs. Aliens" (DreamWorks' previous release) on the same weekend last year, it dropped only 34 percent on its second weekend and now 13 percent on its third. "Monsters" dropped 45 percent and 33 percent, respectively, on its second and third weekends.

Its total domestic gross of $133.9 million is just $6.3 million behind "Monsters" at the same point. The new film looks very likely to exceed $200 million, a mark DreamWorks generally uses to determine success.

"We have really kept the heat up in advertising for the last couple of weeks and we plan to do so going forward because the audience response has been so terrific," said Anne Globe, DreamWorks Animation head of worldwide marketing.

"Dragon" has also taken in a solid $148 million internationally so far.

Digital 3-D screens continue to account for the vast majority of its revenue, representing 65 percent domestically and 69 percent overseas this weekend.

Although its opening was significantly bigger, "Clash of the Titans" appears likely to end up with a lower domestic total than "Dragon" after its ticket sales dropped 56 percent this weekend. While not disastrous, the sizable declines indicate that word of mouth is as soft as reviews were and the film's total domestic ticket sales, now at $110.5 million, will likely end up at around $150 million.

Overseas, however, "Clash" took in a hefty $54 million this weekend thanks to strong debuts in Russia, France and Germany. Its international take of $119.2 million so far is likely to far exceed the movie's domestic total when all is said and done, as it has yet to launch in major markets including Italy, Mexico and Japan.






Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.


The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.


'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.


Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.


Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.


South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.


Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.


'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.


A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.