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Ladies and Gentlemen: Jaden Smith -- Your Next Justin Bieber

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | June 13, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | June 13, 2010 |

I don’t understand how, but the Karate Kid remake not only topped the weekend box office, but did so resoundingly, chopping up $56 million in its debut weekend — the sixth biggest opening weekend of the year. For Karate Kid? The one with the pip-squeak Willie? I’m officially completely out of touch with mainstream audiences. I feel like there must have been a mistake. I understand reviews were mildly positive (and ours will post today), but I simply didn’t get the appeal of a Karate Kid remake which, itself, was essentially a Rocky remake. It had something to do with the fact that 53 percent of the audience — for a martial arts film — was female, which means that — percentage-wise — Karate Kid drew in more of a female audience than did Iron Man 2. Does that mean that 12-year-old Jaden Smith is the next … Justin Bieber?

Doubly perplexing to me is that Karate Kid not only kicked the crap out of The A-Team, but that The A-Team fell well below expectations. And while critics are quick to point out that positive reviews helped Karate Kid, the somewhat positive reviews didn’t do a lot for The A-Team, which picked up $26 million. I went and saw it on Dan’s recommendation, and thoroughly enjoyed it, dumb as it was. I’d like to think word of mouth might help it make back its $110 million budget, but that seems unlikely. There’s been a fair share of successful television adaptations, but none from the ’80s. Studio execs, it seems, are a little too caught up in their own childhoods.

Meanwhile, for one more weekend, Shrek Forever After continued to chug along, picking up another $15 million before Toy Story 3 erases it from the box-office map next weekend. Get Him to the Greek held OK, losing just 42 percent of its opening weekend and adding another $10 million to bring it to a lackluster $36 million. Profitability on the $40 million movie is well within its sights. The same cannot be said of the number five movie, Killers, which added only $8 million in its second weekend and will probably land just short of $45 million before the end of its run. The production budget on Killers was $75 million.

Suck it, Heigl.

Not much else of note. The rest of the top ten, save for Iron Man 2, consist of the highlights of the summer’s commercial disappointments so far: Prince of Persia, Marmaduke, and Robin Hood. Even Splice fell a hefty 63 percent, meaning that if it’s ever going to find an audience, it’ll likely be on DVD.

It’s been as miserable in the indie world this summer as it has in the studio world. One of my favorites of the year, Solitary Man hasn’t even broken $1 million in four weeks of limited release. In three weeks of very limited release, Micmacs hasn’t even made $500,000 yet, and even its $12 million foreign take isn’t going to allow the movie to recoup its $42 million budget (a shame, too. If you liked Amelie, you’ll know doubt love Micmacs, which is like a heist movie version of Amelie). The film festival sensation, Winter’s Bone, debuted this weekend with a decent $21,000 per theater average, a far cry from the $30 - $35,000 per theater average an indie film really needs to merit a significantly wider expansion.

There do seem to be a couple of minor successes. After all the copy geek sites (including our own) devoted tons of copy to the failure of Kick-Ass, it’s quietly approached $50 million, which has to be considered a success for a film with that limited an audience. Moreover, Please Give looks like the rare indie film that might actually make back its budget in theaters. Granted, the budget was only $3 million. Finally, City Island is approaching $6 million after 13 weeks of release, unusual in that it’s never been on my radar. Every time I notice it in the movie listings, I assume it’s a Christian fundamentalist movie. Turns out, it’s an Alan Arkin movie. I may review it this week just to see what the fuss is all about.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.