Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Box Office

Does anyone ever get bothered by the constant and such accessibility of the amount of money a movie makes?  I have a theory that the rules of filmmaking changed when the weekend opening numbers started making news.  Whereas a film is judged as a "blockbuster," or a "hit," or a "bomb," rather than "good" or "bad."  Quality and it's price tag seem rarely mutually exclusive.  Anyhow, this weekend:

  1. Hop- remained at the top for it's second weekend straight adding $21 million to it's tally, bringing it's gross to $68 million.  Proving that family films will usually always deliver, even with creepy animated bunnies acting besides real human beings like James Marsden (no offense to him; he deserves better); however it's 42% drop from it's opening weekend proves that while family are attending, they're not quite loving this Easter feast.  Family films typically drop far less than that on second weekends.
  2. Arthur- It was a Russell Brand twofer this weekend (his irritating British squeal is featured in Hop as well) as his remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore classic brought in $12.6 million on its opening weekend.  I remember back in the days of yore, or more specifically my early childhood (early 1990s era) where that would be considered a respectable number; not so much anymore.  I won't deem it a "flop," since a) I haven't seen it, and b) the numbers should mean nothing anyway...however I'm sure most accounted for already have...
  3. Hanna- The latest in the teenage girl killer subgenre debuted in third with $12.3 million.  While making less than Arthur, it played in nearly 700 fewer theaters and had a marginally higher per screen average ($4,800 versus Arthur's $3,800), so this might not quite have the stigma of failure quite yet.
  4. Soul Surfer- Even better than Arthur and Hanna, was the per screen average of this inspiration tear jerker ($5,000), benefiting from heavy campaigning to it's Christian core no doubt.  It made $11.1 million opening weekend.
  5. Insidious- Bucking the trend of typical horror films, this latest haunted house story from the teams of both Saw and Paranormal Activity dropped only 26% in it's second weekend; horror films usually make all their dough opening weekend and quickly fade away.  I suppose that shows signs of the good word of mouth kicking in, a term that feels strangely outdated...such trained seals we usually are: seeing everything right away.  Kind of curious about this one, since the reviews were atypically positive.  It made $9.7 million this weekend for a cumulative $27.0 million.
  6. Your Highness- The R-rated stoner Princess Bride parody will surely be stigmatized as the "bomb" of the weekend.  Opening to middling reviews and an even more middling $9.7 million leads to assume it will go up in smoke very shortly.  I'm sure the potheads were psyched about this James Franco\Natalie Portman comedy; they probably just got the showtimes wrong.
  7. Source Code- The Groundhog Day sci\fi\runaway train thriller dropped a not terrible 38% percent in it's second weekend for a decent $9.0 million and a cumulative gross of $28 million.  This feels inherently wrong from my take, as it's a fun ride of a film: an Inception-lite if you will.  Director Duncan Jones (Moon) crafted a slick and tight thriller that feels like the type of film that should have lines around the block.  The nutty premise (a man with the power to go back into the last eight minutes of a mans life in order to prevent a terrorist attack) is played with nicely rounded logic and just enough sense of fun and bewilderment that it never made me question the machinations of the plot.  What helps greatly is the rich, humane lead performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, in what must be the first real grown up role of his career.  B
  8. Limitless- In it's fourth weekend, the Bradley Cooper taking a miracle drug caper is starting to taper off, after it's modest, but undeniable spring success.  Easing 38%, it has now made $64 million.  Except to see Cooper around for a few more years at least-- hopefully not in romantic comedies.
  9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules- Rodrick may rule, but after three weekend the sequel in the Wimpy Kid franchise is all but forgotten...of course until next year when the third installment hits screens.  Dropping 51% percent, it's total gross stands at $45 million.
  10. The Lincoln Lawyer- Dropping only 32%, this Matthew McConaughey lawyer drama, like Limitless, is a modest spring success.  It's cum stands at $46 million.
  11. Rango- The number one film of 2011 (according to box office statistics only) has retired from the top ten in it's sixth week of release.  It's total box office stands at $117 million.  I don't quite get the love for this particularly ugly lizard, nor it's particularly ugly environment, but it must, at least for now, be considered at threat for an Oscar nomination for animated feature.
  12. Sucker Punch- Banished from the top ten in it's third weekend, Zack Synder's porno\asylum mess dropped 65% percent for a cumulative gross of $32 million.  I'm okay being considered a hypocrite here...this stinker's a "bomb!"
  13. Paul- The Greg Mattola (Superbad) directed, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) scripted and acted sci-fi comedy dropped 58% in it's fourth weekend for a total gross of $35 million.  Paul suffers a bit, I believe, of the same condition that destroyed the wonderful Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, in that it's Comic-Con endorsed, nerds rebellion has the reek, at least of the surface, of exclusivity.  However, in viewing it's a harmless hash of 80s era Spielberg and Apatow-ian lowbrow comedy, from a decidedly British perspective.  A lot of the gay and pot jokes are stale as hell, but there's a few small performance that make Paul pop, particularly Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman and Sigourney Weaver.  B-
I find it truly horrifying in today's state that independent movies really are just movies the studios made 25 years ago, and have given up based on franchise material.  It's a bit disarming that the model has shifted so, that to truly find transgressive, independent filmmaking, you basically have to stalk the major film festivals, and even there perhaps it's bereft of the kinds of movies I grew up with...Safe, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Pulp Fiction come to mind...

Win Win- Tom McCarthy's deft character study led all indies this weekend with a weekend gross of $1.2 million ($5,300 on 226 screens for a grand total of $3.5 million), marking his third mini-success story.  I firmly believe that if McCarthy were writing and directing films back in the '80s, he'd likely have an Oscar by now.

Jane Eyre- The umpteenth screen adaptation is still playing well in limited release ($1.1 million this weekend; $4,800 on 247 screens and total cum of $5.1 million), yet this film makes me miss the old Merchant Ivory days-- no modern filmmaker has yet to really match them in adapting classic novels-- a silent swoon to A Room With a View.

Meek's Cutoff- Eagerly anticipated by a least one Los Angelino (me), this Kelly Reichardt (Wendy & Lucy) directed western selfishly only opened in New York this weekend.  Thankfully, it did kind of okay.  It made $22,000 on two screens.

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