The Movie: 'Due Date,' starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, and directed by Todd Phillips, fresh off the runaway success of 'The Hangover.'
The Target Audience: High-schoolers, college students, and pop-culture-savvy adults.
The Competition: Lots. Marking the official end of the autumn movie dead zone, the weekend saw the release of two blockbuster attractions in addition to 'Due Date': Dreamworks' trendy, star-studded 3D animated feature 'Megamind,' and Tyler Perry's latest melodrama 'For Colored Girls.' 'Megamind' ended up winning the weekend, but each of the three debuts performed well; for the details, see Moviefone's Box Office Report.
The Number: Due Date certainly has a zeitgeisty pedigree, with each of the main players on a seemingly limitless upward trajectory. Robert Downey Jr. has successfully launched two franchises in the last two years, and gave a classic comic supporting turn in 'Tropic Thunder' -- one of the few things people remember about that film. Zach Galifianakis has worked a miracle in getting the mainstream to sign on to his stridently bizarre schtick, and he seems to be getting more popular by the day. And 'The Hangover' turned Todd Phillips into one of the hottest comedy directors around.
With all of that in mind, 'Due Date''s opening weekend number -- an estimated $33.5 million – is pretty much on the money. Sure, that's considerably less than 'The Hangover' managed last summer. But 'The Hangover' had an easy and brilliant high concept to sell: five guys go to Vegas for a bachelor party, pass out, wake up, and where's the groom? 'Due Date' sort of did too – it's 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' in letter if not in spirit – but look at the advertising and you'll see that Warner Bros. pretty much ignored that angle. Instead, the marketing relied on the quirky stylings of its stars. The poster tagline was actually "Check yourself before you wreck yourself," which is remarkable because it pretty much depends on your being able to imagine (or recall from the trailer) Galifianakis's wide-eyed, angry, insistent delivery of that line.
So while 'Due Date' set no records for anyone involved, it put up a very strong showing – a testament to the current appeal of its headliners.
Staying Power: Maybe. 'The Hangover' notoriously hung around theaters for months after its release. It's not clear, though, that 'Due Date' will have that sort of repeat viewer draw or staying power – the movie is darker and not as well-reviewed. The "B-" Cinemascore does not bode particularly well either.
What, if anything, drew you to 'Due Date' this weekend?