As many anticipated, the Wachowski brothers' eyeball-throttling Speed Racer bombed this weekend, earning only a measly $20.2 million and claiming the No. 2 spot behind Iron Man (which made another $50.5 million since Friday, bringing its total domestic gross to an impressive $177 million). Even so, rival studios are claiming Speed Racer did even worse than that, and that Warner Bros. inflated its Sunday estimate to secure a higher position on the weekend's box-office chart (Fox, Sony, Paramount, Universal, Disney, and MGM all say Racer placed third with $19.7 million).
"Their estimate is utterly laughable," one executive (presumably from 20th Century Fox) told Nikki Finke yesterday. Even more laughable, though, is that Ashton Kutcher's What Happens in Vegas… made an undisputed $20 million, meaning that if Warner did lie about its numbers, it was only to claim hollow victory over the movie Manohla Dargis hails as "crudely manufactured, with its graceless setups, unstable lensing and ghastly lighting." Still, we can totally see where they're coming from. A disastrous $20 million opening for a $160 million, PG-rated movie with no apparent family-targeted competition is bad enough — but to lose to Kelso? God, that would be embarrassing.