From Will Ferrell's late-night TV appearance announcing its launch to the blitz of Dodge ads, tie-in materials and "SportsCenter" shout-outs that marked it release, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" has been surrounded by an air of grand ceremony pretty much throughout its life.
So much grandeur, in fact, that one might have expected the movie to become a major blockbuster — or at least more successful than the original.
Yet the Ferrell news parody opened this weekend to disappointing numbers. Its three-day weekend total of $26.8 million was lower than the $28 million of the original, substantially so when considering the original’s inflation-adjusted number of $35 million.
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The new film's five-day total of $40 million (the studio opened the movie Wednesday) falls short too. The first five days of the original release, which spilled into the not-exactly popular moviegoing days of Monday and Tuesday, yielded $46 million in today's dollars.
And the new film was in 400 more theaters than the original.
Factor all the promotion for "Anchorman 2," and all the presumed new fans that the series gained from cable airings and DVD sales over the past nine years — not to mention the ascendancy of co-stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd — and, well, the new totals start to look more shabby than classy.
Judging actual profitability for “Anchorman 2” is tricky: the Paramount film had only a $50-million production budget, but with so many promotions and tie-ins, it's even tougher than usual to gauge marketing costs. Assessing popularity, or lack thereof, is simpler.
So what happened? Shouldn't the new fans and the marketing blitz have spelled a major jump from the first film? Here are some potential factors.
Cable worked against it. The conventional thinking is that all those cable airings brought new people to the comedy. And it might have. But it also subtly reinforced a belief that the movie could be seen at any time, anywhere, and kept some moviegoers home. If the original never really went away, wouldn’t the same be true of this film too?