LOS ANGELES (AP) - Movie audiences were more interested in light
comedy over Easter weekend than in Quentin Tarantino and Robert
Rodriguez's "Grindhouse," a double-feature ode to bloody
Paramount and DreamWorks' figure-skating romp "Blades of
Glory" remained the No. 1 movie with $23 million, followed for the
second weekend by Disney's animated comedy "Meet the Robinsons"
with $17 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
"Grindhouse," a three-hour reinvention of the down-and-dirty
B-movie double features Tarantino and Rodriguez grew up watching,
debuted at No. 4 with $11.6 million.
It finished behind Sony's family comedy "Are We Done Yet?",
starring Ice Cube in a sequel to "Are We There Yet?", which
opened at No. 3 with $15 million.
Released by the Weinstein Co., "Grindhouse" fell well short of
expectations. Box-office forecasters had figured the movie would
premiere in the ballpark of Tarantino's two "Kill Bill" movies
and Rodriguez's "Sin City," whose opening weekends ranged from
$22 million to $29 million.
The weak debut for "Grindhouse" was a blow to the Weinstein
Co., formed two years ago by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein
after they departed their old outfit, Disney-owned Miramax. The
"Grindhouse" directors were steady providers for the Weinsteins
at Miramax, which released Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill
Bill" films and Rodriguez's "Spy Kids" movies.
"Grindhouse" presents two full films. Rodriguez's "Planet
Terror" features Rose McGowan as a go-go dancer who becomes a
zombie fighter with a machine gun for a leg. Tarantino's "Death
Proof" stars Kurt Russell as a serial killer who stalks women with
his beefed-up car.
"With these two filmmakers' pedigree and the overall cool
factor that this film had going for it, you would have figured it
would have done a lot more business," said Paul Dergarabedian,
president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers.
The movie's running time was an impediment, limiting the number
of screenings theaters could fit in.
Harvey Weinstein said disappointing returns for "Grindhouse"
resulted from the "novelty in America of releasing a double bill
and asking an audience to make a three-hour commitment."
"Grindhouse" played to big crowds on the East and West coasts
but failed to click with audiences in the Midwest and South,
With theatrical receipts, overseas sales, television and
home-video revenues, "Grindhouse" will turn a profit on its $53
million budget, Weinstein said. The company hoped that word of
mouth from those who did see it would sustain it at theaters in
coming weeks, he said.
"If you go see it with any audience, walk into any theater,
you'll see people screaming and applauding like a rock concert,"
Weinstein said. "Maybe we didn't educate the audience that it's
such an experience."
Movie-goers clearly were in the mood for something lighter.
"Blades of Glory," starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder as skating
rivals who team up as the sport's first men's pair, raised its
10-day total to $68.4 million, its receipts dropping a slim 30
percent from opening weekend.
"There's a real hunger out there for something that you can go
to and say, 'Hey, let me get away from the terrible things we have
to watch and read every day,"' said Marvin Levy, spokesman for
DreamWorks, one of the studios behind "Blades of Glory."
"Meet the Robinsons," the animated adventure of a
time-traveling orphan boy, also held strongly in its second
weekend, raising its 10-day total to $52.2 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and
Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures
will be released Monday.