"Tron" leads weak pack of newcomers at box office

Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:04pm EST
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Tron: Legacy," a costly 3D sci-fi movie that Walt Disney Co has promoted for more than three years, opened disappointingly at the weekend box office in North America, while a new comedy starring Reese Witherspoon was one of the biggest flops of the year.

The "Tron" movie, a massively hyped sequel to an obscure 1982 movie, earned $43.6 million during its first three days of release, Disney said Sunday. Industry observers had been expecting a three-day start in the $50 million range, although Disney said the opening was within its own expectations.

The effects-laden update reportedly cost $170 million to make, and more than $100 million to market worldwide. Disney never divulges budgets.

Internationally, the film earned a modest $23 million from No. 1 openings in all 26 of its markets, including Japan, Australia, Britain and Brazil. These markets represent about half of the international sales pie.

Meanwhile "How Do You Know" opened at No. 8 with just $7.6 million in the United States and Canada, far short of modest expectations in the $12 million range. The Columbia Pictures project cost about $100 million to make, with half the budget spent on salaries for Witherspoon, co-stars Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd, and writer/director James L. Brooks. Extensive reshoots also drove up costs.

Executives at the Sony Corp unit were despondent about the opening, although the film had suffered bad buzz for some time with no help from a forgettable title.

"YOGI" BARELY AVERAGE

A third newcomer did not do much better. "Yogi Bear," a live-action/animated update of the old television cartoon, came in at No. 2 with $16.7 million. Distributor Warner Bros. said it had hoped for an opening between $18 million and $20 million, but the Time Warner Inc unit expected the Christmas holiday would boost business. The $80 million film stars Dan Aykroyd as the voice of the title character and Justin Timberlake as his sidekick Boo Boo.

Critics trashed all three films, which vied for the attention of holiday-distracted moviegoers alongside national expansions of acclaimed awards-season contenders Paramount Pictures' "The Fighter" (No. 4, $12.2 million) and Fox Searchlight's "Black Swan" (No. 7, $8.3 million).   Continued...