Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 05-02-11

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “Fast Five”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “Fast Five”

Chris Hemsworth, star of “Thor”

Chris Hemsworth, star of “Thor”

“PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES” Captain Jack (JOHNNY DEPP) attempts a quick getaway from yet another precarious situation in the Caribbean. Ph: Peter Mountain ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES” Captain Jack (JOHNNY DEPP) attempts a quick getaway from yet another precarious situation in the Caribbean. Ph: Peter Mountain ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Fantastic “Five:” It was definitely a fantastic weekend for Universal, but was it good for Hollywood?

Clearly, with “Fast Five” speeding away with about $86 million, Universal and its new corporate owners at Comcast have lots to celebrate. As for everybody else, it was business as usual — which is to say, really not so good.

Disney can’t be thrilled with “Prom” opening fifth to only about $5 million at 2,730 theatres (less than $2,000 per location). And The Weinstein Company can’t be happy to have launched its 3D “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil” in sixth place to a little over $4 million at 2,505 theatres (less than $1,750 per location).

Meanwhile, Fox should be pleased about nailing down second place for its 3D adventure “Rio” in week three with about $14.5 million, but it’s domestic cume is only around $104 million and it’s clearly not rewriting the animation record books.

As for Lionsgate, they can’t be overjoyed with “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family” sinking about 60 percent in its second weekend.

Despite the media calling this a big boxoffice turnaround, what this weekend really showed is that people will turn out only for the movies they want to see. In other words, it’s a very product driven business. If you have a picture audiences are really excited about — like “Fast,” the fifth in an action adventure blockbuster franchise — they’ll spend the time and money to be the first to see it. If not, they’ve got lots of other things to do.

It’s the difference between people going to “the movies” (which is what they used to do in the 1930s and ‘40s when they’d go to a neighborhood theatre once or twice a week and just pick something that was playing) and going to “a movie” (which is what they do today when something seems really special).

With that in mind, it’s fair to say that the outlook for Hollywood in general this summer is actually pretty encouraging. Industry tracking reports show Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ 3D fantasy action adventure “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which doesn’t open until May 20, already has a first choice percentage only slightly less than the one that propelled “Fast” to its fast start.

Also tracking strongly is Paramount and Marvel Studios’ fantasy action adventure “Thor,” opening May 6. It’s not close to “Fast” or “Pirates,” but it’s scoring double digits and that’s encouraging, especially for an original.

Those are the two immediate bright spots on Hollywood’s horizon as far as tracking goes (which at this writing is May 20). But it’s a pretty safe bet that other titles in the franchise category (especially sci-fi and fantasy action adventures) or the comic book driven genre (sci-fi and fantasy action adventures) will also track well and arrive to enviable ticket sales.

That should bring smiles to studios around town as the summer heats up with other high profile entries like: Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ R rated comedy “The Hangover, Part II” (May 26); Fox and Marvel Studios’ fantasy action adventure “X-Men: First Class” (June 3); Disney and Pixar’s 3D animated “Cars 2” (June 24); Paramount and Hasbro’s 3D sci-fi action adventure “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (July 1); and Warners’ fantasy action adventure “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” (July 15).

But if it’s going to be a really good summer, we also have to see some originals connecting with moviegoers. Unlike franchises, predicting how originals will do is always a crapshoot. At the moment, sight unseen, a few titles I feel good about betting on are: Amblin Entertainment, Bad Robot and Paramount’s sci-fi thriller “Super 8” from director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg (June 10); Warners and DC Entertainment’s comic book inspired fantasy “Green Lantern” (June 17); Columbia and Mosaic Media’s R rated comedy “Bad Teacher,” starring Cameron Diaz (June 24); and Warners and Carousel Productions’ romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love” starring Steve Carell (July 29).

Bottom line: The real boxoffice turnaround isn’t here yet — but, as they say, it’s coming soon!