CATEGORIES Movie NewsSure, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" marched to an easy box office victory this weekend, earning an estimated $41.2 million in North America and landing in second place on the all-time list of top Easter Weekend openings. But does that make it a smash hit, or is it a disappointment that should have opened even bigger?
This sequel to 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" features bigger stars than the original, namely, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bruce Willis. It was supposed to be released last summer, but Paramount pulled it shortly before its scheduled release for retooling, converting the movie into 3D and reportedly adding more scenes with the suddenly white-hot Channing Tatum (who had been a much smaller box office draw when he appeared in "Cobra").
Given its star power and 3D surcharges, "Retaliation" could have opened even higher, perhaps in the mid-50s, as "Cobra" did. On the other hand, "Retaliation" looks like it'll do much better overseas than "Cobra," so maybe it will all work out in the end. Right now, however, whether you deem the movie a hit or a miss depends on how you look at it.
Here are some ways to evaluate the action sequel's box office performance, pro and con.
Hit: Even before its release, Paramount was billing "Retaliation" as "the first blockbuster of the year." Miss: Remember a little movie called "Oz the Great and Powerful"? Which opened just three weeks ago and has earned nearly $200 million domestically to date, a figure "Retaliation" will be hard-pressed to match? Guess we're supposed to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Hit: "Retaliation" cost less than "Cobra" to make, about $130 million (compared to $175 million), so it'll be profitable sooner. Miss: It also earned less with its debut, $41.2 million compared to $54.7 million.
Hit: Added to its Friday-to-Sunday total are its early sales from screenings Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the total for "Retaliation" so far to $51.7 million. Miss: That's still less than "Cobra" earned during its first three days. And "Cobra" didn't have 3D surcharges.
Hit: "Retaliation" boasts the second-biggest Easter weekend opening of all time. (No. 1 is "Clash of the Titans," which debuted with $61.2 million in 2010.) Miss: Last Easter, "The Hunger Games" did better ($58.6 million) on its second weekend than "Retaliation" did on its first.
Miss: Critics gave "Retaliation" worse reviews than "Cobra." Many noted that the movie's release had been postponed nine months for retooling, the sort of delay that is usually not good news. Hit: This movie's teen-male target audience doesn't care about reviews or negative, inside-baseball advance buzz.
Hit: Rival action thriller "Olympus Has Fallen" fell to fourth place, losing 53 percent of last week's business, once "Retaliation" entered the marketplace. Miss: "Olympus" still managed to earn an estimated $14.0 million, enough to swipe a decent fragment of the "Retaliation" audience.
Hit: "Retaliation" grossed $80.3 million overseas this weekend, and it still has yet to open in a quarter of all foreign markets. With $132.0 million earned worldwide, it's made back its production cost in just five days. Miss: No downside to that.
Hit: Those worldwide figures are enough to ensure that there's a third "G.I. Joe" installment. Miss: Are audiences ready for a third "G.I. Joe"?