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Box Office - 'The Hangover' Drunk on Friday Success

It's a surprising but encouraging start for The Hangover, the new Vegas buddy comedy that has been showered by enthusiastic reviews (like ours), as the film raced to a lead at the box office on Friday, beating expected weekend winner Up and more than doubling the business for its new competition, Land of the Lost.

The new estimates, released this morning by Box Office Mojo, show The Hangover in the lead with a $16.3 million opening day. Considering almost every prediction showed the comedy earning between $20 and $25 million for the entire three-day frame, I guess it's safe to say this is going to be a major hit.

Up performed about as well as it was believed, with a showing in the $13 million range. Over the course of the full weekend, the Pixar family movie could still topple The Hangover, but a lot of that depends on how big the Saturday numbers are for the R-rated raunchfest. When we're not dealing with an established product, whether it's a brand name like Pixar or a franchise movie with a track record, the second day can be hard to predict when the first day bucks the trend. Maybe everyone rushed out to see The Hangover yesterday and that accounts for the spike, or maybe it's going to do this for three straight days. Tough to measure at this point.

Land of the Lost, however, will be a big flop, and sooner than most people expected. It will be lucky to make $20 million this weekend, which would generally mean one-third of the domestic gross, but comedies, for whatever reason, are less reliable in that regard when they open soft. It's almost like the audience turns on them. So if it's a $20 million opening, it's probably a $50 million total gross, which is about half the budget. Gulp. There's certainly no way Universal makes its money back in theatrical releases when you add in the typical marketing budget for a summer movie.

One thing is for sure: Up will make around $40 million this weekend. As for The Hangover, you'd have to assume a debut in the $30 millions, but if the business is strong - and the word of mouth from last night will convert Saturday and Sunday male audiences on the fence between this weekend's two comedies - it might be over $40 million itself, perhaps good enough for a surprising opening weekend win.

Reader Comments (3)

Land of the Lame= Spud Racer 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraccept it, Universal

Happy for "Up" and "Hangover."

Not surprised by "Land of the Lost." Here's what I want to know: who, exactly, was the target audience for Land of the Lost? Teens? Kids? Those with fond memories of the TV show? I had assumed it was a kids movie, based on the source material and advertising (and honestly, it seemed logical to me, as a kids movie would be the only way a dreck like this would make money). But this morning I discovered it was actually rated PG-13. I can't think of anyone over 13 who would be dying to see this.

Sunday, June 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosie

It isn't just barely a PG-13, either, Josie. It's not in any way a good movie for kids. Drug references, loads of profanity, sexual innuendo. They really should have made a safer PG, for exactly the reasons you mentioned.

Sunday, June 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterGet The Big Picture

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