Sunday, March 17, 2013

James Franco: Box Office Wizard (and Pimp)

This year has been a snooze for the most part when it comes to box office grosses, what with attendance and admissions all down from the previous year, along with the typically uninspiring product that the first few months of the years brings out.  Well, the key to 2013 box office riches appears to be...James Franco.  Specifically if you surround the actor with a bevy of attractive women seemingly all aglow with the magic and power that is marks this strange specimen of actorly range.  The actor stole the show on both the macro and micro level on this weeks box office chart with the prepackaged Disney extravaganza, Oz: The Great & Powerful maintaining the top spot in its second week of release earning $42 million for a total so far of $145 million, making it the top seller of 2013 so far.  Not content to the object of desire (and eventual disdain) by the powerful witches of Oz (Rachel Wiesz, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, respectively), Franco also dominated the limited engagement world with the huge take brought in by Spring Breakers, the latest from enfant terrible Harmony Korine (Gummo, julien donkey boy, screenwriter of Kids), which bolstered the highest per-screen average for any film since last years The Master, rearing a take of $270,000 on three screens in New York and Los Angeles, for an average of $90,000 (the largest for any film so far in 2013, and higher, in fact, than those set by eventual Oscar winners Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty when they charted on their limited debuts; the film also boasts the 22nd biggest per-screen average in history, unadjusted for inflation.)  Spring Breakers, which cements Franco as some sort of career beasts, tackles the role of a white rapper/Spring Break emcee who shepherds past Disney Channel pets Selina Gomez and Ashley Benson into the world of R-rated carnality.
More on Oz: The Great & Powerful and Spring Breakers soon, but this weekend at the very least, we can assume it's James Franco's world and we're just living in it.

In other news, Halle Berry surprised with The Call, the combined magic of Steve Carrel and Jim Carrey couldn't get arrested as The Incredible Burt Wonderstone bombed hard, Jack the Giant Slayer is but an afterthought (more on that soon, too-- I realize no one cares about it anymore!)

The brighter side came from the limited field as not just the impressive achievement of Spring Breakers, but two other films got off to a solid start as well.  From Up on Poppy Hill opened on two screens in New York to a nice average of $27,500; the internationally successful anime from Goro Miyazki (son of maestro Hayao, who co-wrote the film) will arrive in Los Angeles next week, with further expansion to go.  Upstart indie outfit A24 Production was behind Spring Breakers but also unleashed the Elle Fanning period piece Ginger & Rosa (which actually had a blink and you've missed it Oscar qualifying run last December) to solid results as well with a $15,000 average on three screens.  This week, in a highly unusual move, will certainly raise the stock of A24, which has some interesting films in the pipeline including Sophia Coppola's The Bling Ring.

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