"Dragon" testifies to box office life after opening

Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:36pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon" is about mythical creatures, but the film's box office performance owes more to the turtle and the hare, as it shows the race does not always go to the swift.

The film about a Viking who domesticates a dragon had been expected to open in the $65 million to $70 million range the weekend of March 26-28. When it made $43.3 million, many Hollywood watchers viewed that as a disappointment.

But since then, "Dragon" has become one of the most consistent box office performers of recent months, dropping only 21 percent this past weekend compared to the previous weekend, to rake in $19.6 million.

Box office analysts said "Dragon" and even the record-breaking "Avatar" show that judging a film's ultimate performance by its opening weekend can be a losing game.

In this era of social-networking websites, audiences' reaction to movies they enjoy can markedly reverse the box office fortune of films, analysts said.

"You can sometimes buy your way to a huge opening weekend with a massive marketing campaign, what you can't buy is word-of-mouth," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of tracking firm Hollywood.com Box Office.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc suffered an 8 percent drop in its share price to $39.34 the day after "Dragon's" opening weekend. The stock has not fully recovered from that plummet, but on Monday it closed up 2.4 percent to $41.57.

BETTER THAN 'MONSTERS'?   Continued...

<p>Actors (L-R) Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz, and Aaron Johnson pose for a portrait during a media day promoting the film "Kick-Ass" in New York April 8, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>