Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler ventured outside of their wheelhouses in new films this weekend but found their risk-taking roundly rejected at the box office.
Cruise, who struck gold six months ago with his action film “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” attempted to show off his lighter side as a booze-swilling, sex-addicted ‘80s musician in"Rock of Ages,"while Sandler steered away from his family audience with the raunchy R-rated comedy “That’s My Boy. Both films tanked, beaten by the 3-D animated flick"Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,"which was the No. 1 film for the second consecutive weekend.
The kids’ movie centering on a band of zoo animals on the loose grossed $35.5 million, distributor Paramount Pictures estimated. The movie has collected $120.5 million in the U.S. and $278 million worldwide.
“Rock of Ages," based on the Broadway musical of the same name, debuted with $14.1 million, while"That’s My Boy"started with a weak $13 million. Heading into the weekend, pre-release audience surveys had indicated that each film would gross at least $20 million. Instead, they fell behind last weekend’s runner-up,"Prometheus,"which took the No. 2 spot again with $20.2 million, raising its 10-day domestic total to $88.8 million.
“Rock of Ages” attracted a heavily female crowd — 62% were women. Roughly 74% of the audience was older than 25, indicating that the movie appealed to those familiar with the ‘80s music by bands like Journey and Def Leppard featured in the picture. The movie was produced by Warner Bros.’ New Line label for $75 million and in addition to Cruise featured a high-profile cast including Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin andCatherine Zeta-Jones.
Overall, the movie received largely negative reviews, though Cruise (who gave a glimpse of his comic side as an obnoxious studio executive in 2008’s “Tropic Thunder”) was widely praised for his turn as a debauched hair rocker. Moviegoers assigned it an average grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution, said it was unfair to attribute the movie’s lackluster opening weekend result to Cruise. “Tom is the hardest-working man in Hollywood, but he was part of the ensemble here, and I don’t think it’s fair to put it on one person in this all-star cast,” Fellman said.
Meanwhile, “That’s My Boy” turned out to have one of the poorest opening weekends ever for Sandler. The movie, in which he plays a man-child dad trying to reconnect with his son — played by Andy Samberg — is only the third R-rated comedy the actor has appeared in. (The other two,"Funny People” and “Punch Drunk Love,” were also box-office duds.) Many of his films have been PG-13 rated comedies, including"Just Go With It” and"Grown Ups,” which have collected more than $100 million each in the U.S.
“That’s My Boy” received dismal reviews, but Sandler’s films have typically been critic-proof. His last movie, the 2011 cross-dressing comedy “Jack and Jill,"notched only a 3% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes but grossed $149.7 million worldwide. It seems unlikely that his latest Sony Pictures movie, which had a budget of around $70 million, will end up faring that well.
The movie could suffer from poor word of mouth, because those who saw it over the weekend gave it an average grade of B-. The film appealed slightly more to men than to women but failed to attract a strong contingent of young moviegoers, because 48% of the crowd was older than 25.
Sony’s president of distribution, Rory Bruer, did not deny that the film’s opening was a disappointment but insisted that Sony “loves being in the Adam Sandler business” with the actor’s production company, Happy Madison.
“We give Adam a ton of credit for stepping out and mixing it up with a really off-the-wall, R-rated raunchy comedy,” Bruer said. “I think with the R rating, it’s probably just one of things that people have to still kind of connect to.”