Speed Racer

Warner Brothers

The summer box office season has seen its first crash.

The $100 million-ish Speed Racer opened this weekend with an estimated $20.2 million, and, according to one box office expert, will struggle to get to $50 million domestically by the time its run is done.

"In terms of Warner Bros., this is a yellow flag of caution," Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations Co. said today.

Elsewhere, Iron Man continued to show he was still the man (first place, $50.5 million), and Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz's What Happens in Vegas hit on a nice little number (third place, $20 million).

For the weekend, Speed Racer, directed by The Matrix's Wachowski brothers and starring Emile Hirsch as the 1960s cartoon driver come to life, finished second, behind Iron Man and ahead of What Happens in Vegas. But Bock said the rankings could change once today's studio estimates turn into Monday's final numbers.

"Don't be surprised if Speed Racer comes in third, when all is said and done," Bock said.

Speed Racer's slow start was not a surprise. The trailers didn't click. The reviews weren't good (although, per Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews for What Happens in Vegas were even worse).

According to Bock, the movie had a third strike against it: It is a family-friendly film.

"In today's market, when you have a PG film, it's really hard to market that to families," Bock said. "And when this one came out PG, it obviously was for kids only, and that means a lot of families don't go."

PG-13 is the marketing sweet spot—eight of the year's top 10 films sport that rating, with The Spiderwick Chronicles the lone PG film in that mix.

Guess Pops Racer shouldn't hold back the next time he's cursing out Speed for grinding the gears on the Mach 5. Or 6.

Elsewhere:

  • Iron Man is showing pretty good legs for a movie, circa 2008, with business down 51 percent. Last year, Spider-Man 3 dropped more than 60 percent in its second weekend.
  • Overall, Iron Man's stateside take stands at $177.1 million. After two weekends, it has bypassed Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! as the year's No. 1 movie. What Happens in Vegas outgrossed Speed Racer, screen for screen, and debuted in the neighborhood of 27 Dresses and Fool's Gold, the year's two biggest romantic comedies.
  • Owing to the Shrek and Charlie's Angels franchises, Diaz has enjoyed far bigger openings than What Happens in Vegas' $20 million. Owing to My Boss's Daughter, et al, Kutcher has only topped $20 million one other time (2005's Guess Who).
  • If you think being a PG film is tough, try being an R. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (sixth place, $3.8 million; $50.7 million overall) and the forgotten Rambo ($42.8 million overall) are the only two of their kind in the year's top 20, per the stats at Box Office Mojo.
  • David Mamet's Redbelt (10th place, $1.1 million; $1.2 million overall) broke wide, and broke into the top 10, which all sounds pretty good until you notice it "grossed," on average, $827 at each of its 1,300-plus theaters.
  • Prom Night ($1.1 million; $42.8 million overall) and 88 Minutes ($485,000; $16.4 million overall, per Box Office Mojo) both ended their top 10 runs. 21 ($835,000) did, too, but it also crossed $80 million mark overall.
  • It was another largely underwhelming weekend on the art-house circuit. Not one little movie grossed as much per screen as gigantic Iron Man, which averaged a weekend-best $12,284 at each of its 4,000-plus theaters.
  • The Fall, a fantasy-drama starring Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace, distinguished itself with a strong $80,200 at nine theaters, per Box Office Mojo.

Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Iron Man, $50.5 million
  2. Speed Racer, $20.2 million
  3. What Happens in Vegas, $20 million
  4. Made of Honor, $7.6 million
  5. Baby Mama, $5.8 million
  6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, $3.8 million
  7. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, $3.2 million
  8. The Forbidden Kingdom, $1.9 million
  9. Nim's Island, $1.3 million
  10. Redbelt, $1.1 million
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