It was a neck-and-neck race that turned out to be not so closer after all. On Sunday, Warner Brothers reported estimated earnings of just over $20-million for SPEED RACER, placing it a photo finish ahead of WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS. According to Yahoo’s Movie & TV News (sourced to an item in Daily Variety), the weekend estimate engendered widespread skepticism in Hollywood – skepticism that was justified when the actual tally turned out to be $18.6-million, placing the film in third place instead of second.
It is not uncommon for weekend estimates to be off by a few hundred thousand (they are estimates after all), but a difference of approximately $1.5-million suggests that WB was intentionally upping the ante. As Variety observed, “It’s far from the first time a studio with an under-performing pic has overestimated its Sunday gross and avoided an embarrassing third-place finish in Monday morning box office stories.” (Box office estimates on Monday receive more attention because they have less competition from other news, the weekend usually being quiet.)
The Yahoo post speculates that SPEED RACER’s low-octane performance will drop the checkered flag on several careers at WB, which spent between $250- to 300-million to market the movie.