"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" earned a studio-estimated $100 million around the globe on its opening weekend, marking Paramount's third successful big-budget action movie of the summer, albeit the smallest one.
The film came in about $10 million under the opening weekend of "Star Trek," which earned $75.2 million domestically and about $35 million overseas. "G.I. Joe" did better internationally, where it grossed a studio-estimated $44 million, despite not yet launching in several key markets, including Germany and Italy. It underperformed "Trek" in the U.S. and Canada, where it opened to $56.2 million.
That's certainly good enough for Paramount to claim victory, however, and start thinking about the future. The studio's vice chairman, Rob Moore, confirmed that a sequel will soon go into development. The film's lead actors are contractually obligated to return for another film, though director Stephen Sommers is not.
There is reason to be concerned about whether "G.I. Joe" will fade quickly at the box office. The film experienced a sizable 18% drop in domestic ticket sales from Friday to Saturday, indicating audience word of mouth may not be great, despite a solid rating of B+ from opening-day moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore. "Star Trek" saw its ticket sales increase from Friday to Saturday and went on to more than triple its opening-weekend gross.
Such a fate looks unlikely for "G.I. Joe," particularly with "District 9" opening Friday and expected to perform well with males, who made up more than 60% of the audience for Paramount's film. Moore said that Paramount will aim marketing more at families going forward as a result, hoping to persuade more parents to take older children to the PG-13 film. Families made up a significant one-third of moviegoers this weekend.
Notably, "Funny People" dropped 15% from Friday to Saturday, a bit less than "G.I. Joe." This weekend, its ticket sales plummeted 65%.
Despite the strong opening, Paramount still needs "G.I. Joe" to hold well on a worldwide basis, as it cost a hefty $175 million to produce and $150 million to market and distribute. Spyglass Entertainment covered 25% of the production budget.
Relatively, the weekend's biggest hit may have been Sony Pictures' "Julie & Julia," which cost about $40 million to make and opened to $20.1 million. The studio managed to draw an audience that doesn't come out to movies as often: adult women. Females took 67% of theater seats for the cooking drama, while adults older than 35 accounted for 64% of the audience. Given its CinemaScore of A and a 16% rise in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday, "Julie" is well positioned for a long box-office run.
Also opening this weekend was Rogue Pictures' "A Perfect Getaway," which was distributed by Universal. It opened to $5.8 million, a decent start given the thriller's $14-million budget.