Disappointing debuts from Sherlock and Alvin sequels
While franchise titles did claim the top three spots at the box office this weekend, it wound up being a very mixed frame for sequels. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked both tallied solid grosses, though they were notably down from their predecessors. On the other hand, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol had a robust start in limited release. Even with all of these established brands entering the marketplace, the Top 12 wound up down roughly 13 percent from the same period last year.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opened to an estimated $40.02 million, which is way down from the original Sherlock Holmes’s $62.3 million over Christmas weekend in 2009. In what could be an even more concerning comparison, the movie wound up lower than Tron Legacy‘s $44 million start at the same time last year. That’s shocking, considering Game of Shadows opened just two years after a well-received original while Tron hit theaters 28 years after a first movie that wasn’t even widely available on DVD or Blu-ray until after Legacy’s release. Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures is reporting that the audience was 59 percent male and 50 percent under the age of 35.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked debuted to an estimated $23.5 million, or less than half of The Squeakquel’s $48.9 million. It was also significantly off from the first Alvin’s $44.3 million. Distributor 20th Century Fox reports that the audience was 54 percent female and 53 percent under the age of 25.
Both Sherlock and Alvin struggled to live up to franchise standards this weekend, albeit for different reasons. The marketing for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows never sufficiently differentiated the movie from its predecessor. While the ads did often briefly mention Holmes’s conflict with Professor Moriarty, the focus was mainly put on the slow-motion action and Holmes-Watson banter that were trademarks of the first movie. While that movie is generally well-liked, it probably doesn’t have the sort of rabid fan base that will eagerly turn out for more of same, which seemed to bear out this weekend.
In comparison, 20th Century Fox did a great job showing that Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked had a unique premise (the Chipmunks get stranded on a desert island) in comparison to the first two movies. Regardless of how interesting the premise is, though, the Alvin and the Chipmunks series probably isn’t looked upon fondly by most adults. While usually this wouldn’t be a huge problem, the generally poor performance of family movies lately indicates that parents are probably being far more judicious in deciding what movies they will take their children to.