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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Box Office

There is plenty of reason to be happy for Disney and Enchanted this weekend, but let’s not lose perspective. Like Memorial Day weekend, the strongest players have been released the weekend BEFORE the holiday for years now. Harry Potter, Bond, National Treasure, and Happy Feet, in recent years, have marked the trend. Disney is really the only company that continues to use that weekend and not the weekend before as its big launchpad.
So… a great opening. But the world changing tone of some coverage requires at least one or two more weekends to become any kind of reality at all. That said, the film looks a lot more like 101 Dalmatians than Flubber, which is about where I saw it headed.
And This Christmas proves, yet again, that Sony knows how to work the niches better than anyone. Props go to Lionsgate for jumping into the Tyler Perry business, but $22 million opening Stomp The Yard, $20 million for White Chicks and Guess Who, and $16 million for You Got Served set this up. And the trick of this opening was a combination of daring as far as the release date and crossover, in terms of finding a black adult audience – like Perry’s – for this film and not just serving the kids.
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34 Responses to “Box Office”

  1. movieman says:

    Interesting 3-day figures.
    Even without Tyler Perry’s name attached, “This Christmas” overcomes generally poor reviews to eke out a solid and surprising second place finish. Does its success help or hurt the other African-American Christmas movie opening next month?
    Apparently there was more interest in “Hit Man” than most industry analysts figured, but poisonous w.o.m. should make it a one-weekend (semi)wonder. It’s probably too soon for Fox to greenlight a sequel….or is it?
    All things considered, that was a pretty nice opening for “August Rush.” And a somewhat weaker-than-expected debut for “The Mist.” W.O.M. should help both (especially “AR”) in the stretch.
    “I’m Not There” had a really disappointing limited bow, though. Very odd considering the rave reviews, hip cast and cult director.
    “Enchanted” was the preordained smash it was manufactured to be. I wonder how long it’ll take before Disney announces (a) the sequel, and (b) a Broadway musical version.
    Nice expansion for “NCFOM”! Sometimes good things can happen to great movies.

  2. brack says:

    Disney did not want to compete with Bee Movie or Beowulf. I think it was a smart move. Plus Enchanted will have great WOM.

  3. waterbucket says:

    SPOILERS
    While watching No Country For Old Men, I thought “Wow, this is one of the best movies ever.” Then bam, the stupid ending ruined everything. Can someone say Sopranos?

  4. jeffmcm says:

    Considering that the Sopranos ending was brilliant and perfect, sure.

  5. a_loco says:

    Beowulf held nicely as far as action movies go. The Mist got pwnd, which is a little dissapointing for those of us that like good movies. Still, the Top 10 has to be considered in good shape when #10 pulls in almost $8 mil.

  6. ManWithNoName says:

    (SPOILERS)
    bucket:
    How else could the movie have ended? Jones going after Anton and killing him? Those troubled by the ending should go back to the beginning and listening to the opening narration.

  7. 555 says:

    There are *obviously* setting up “No Country 2: The Chigurhland Express.” Those money grubbing Coens.

  8. djk813 says:

    Note that Stomp the Yard and This Christmas come from the Atlanta based (like Tyler Perry Studios) production company Rainforest Films founded by Will Packer and Rob Hardy. They have been able to build a niche following with direct to video releases (sound familiar?) and then had a modest success with The Gospel before the breakout with Stomp the Yard and the current follow up.

  9. Dr Wally says:

    Beowulf’s drop is steeper than i anticipated. Zemeckis hasn’t had a movie fail to gross at least $100 million domestically since Death Becomes Her fifteen years ago, so one would hope that many are waiting to make a special trip to the IMAX 3-D version, which should keep the movie chugging along past Christmas.

  10. Chicago48 says:

    I didn’t get No Country…who lived who died? How did all those people keep finding where people were? How did those Mexicans find Anton, find Moss….how? Was Moss the one who shot Anton? Just too much dangling and IMO Anton was not the WORST killer on film, there have been worse.
    I guess I missed a lot, and I didn’t laugh not one time.

  11. ManWithNoName says:

    ^^^^^
    Seriously????

  12. waterbucket says:

    SPOILERS
    No, I’m not mad at the outcome. I expected it from the title of the movie. However, I’m mad that I didn’t get to see what happened to Llewelyn in that motel. The movie seems to build up everything so perfectly only to deflate so quickly with crucial scenes hidden from the audience.

  13. 555 says:

    SPOILERS for No Country within:
    Moss doesn’t die out of nowhere and the audience is not kept in the dark about what’s going on. We see three Mexicans following Carla Jean and her mom in the taxi, and then the one Mexican asks her mom what hotel they are going to stay at in El Paso. And when Ed Tom Bell shows up at the hotel after Moss turns down the beer at the pool, we see the end of the shootout from a distance (which looked CRAZY, by the way, i can’t imagine rolling up on something like that). We see the Mexicans fleeing in their truck, and then we roll up on dead Moss. It was offscreen, but not completely. We know exactly whats going on as long as we’re using just a bit of our powers of observation.
    I thought it was all brilliant.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    SPOILERS: My understanding is that the ending of the book is essentially the same as the controversial ending of the movie, with the exception of maybe a little more detail (re: what happens to Kelly Macdonald), is this right?

  15. Jimmy the Gent says:

    Premiere.com’s Glenn Kenny has a very thoughtful and thorough consideration of the ending to NCFOM.
    MCN should provide a link to it on the homepage.

  16. THX5334 says:

    Thanks for all the Spoiler warnings before all the posts. I haven’t seen the film yet, so I appreciate it. That is good movie blog etiquette..

  17. **NO COUNTRY SPOILERS***
    You seriousl can’t figure out what happened to MacDonalds character, jeff? Think about the scene….particularly the part where Anton leaves the house, friend-o.

  18. mutinyco says:

    I believe in the book she does call the toss…

  19. David Poland says:

    I too want to thank you all for the Spoiler etiquette.
    And I have no idea how anyone can not get the ending of No Country… it is the entire film encapsulated.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    Petaluma, I wasn’t confused by it, but I know others were and my understanding is that the book is not vague.

  21. Kambei says:

    She does not call it in the book either. Sheriff Bell does do some diggin’ around on Chigure’s trail at that point, however, which is not in the movie.

  22. 555 says:

    How about some adjusted Weekend Estimates? I’ve seen it reported elsewhere that No Country is actually #10 with just over $8 mill, and Magorium’s is #11. Let’s give the Devil his due.

  23. bulldog68 says:

    DP, I think its about time you start a separate thread for No Country for Old Men. Those of us who haven’t seen it are now aware that there is something to look forward to in the ending, or not look forward to, if you get my meaning.
    Secondly, due to American Gangsters boffo B/O, I guess it is being seemed in some circles as this years Departed. With NCFOM being the critical darling, we may be heading for a showdown of two crime dramas as Best Picture. It has been said that B/O will always be an equation in a film’s Oscar chances, which will tip the scales in favor of American Gangster, do you guys think that a NCFOM with Leonardo, Matt and Jack Nicholson would’ve done 100m as well?
    Thirdly, more toward B/O power. We are now facing a year where a movie sold on Tom Cruise will not make the Top 100 films of the year. Is Will Smith truly the last Movie Star on the planet?

  24. waterbucket says:

    Uh, forgetting Johnny Depp there?

  25. bulldog68 says:

    Do you think Pursuit of Happyness with J.Depp would have done $163M? Outside of the pirates franchise (which he deserves a great deal of credit for) he’s had 2 100M+ films, Sleepy Hollow and Chocolate Factory. (Platoon doesn’t count.)
    The mark of a movie star IMO is someone who can do great B/O numbers with fare that are outside their general comfort zone. Will began testing the waters with Ali @ 50M in 2001, and since then every movie has made north of 100M. Admittedly Depp has not made as many commercially driven movies as Will, but I don’t think they operate in the same B/O league.
    On another note, I thought that by now 2007’s B/O would have been running 2006’s figures into the dust. With 4 X 300M plus films, almost 5 with H.Potter, a slew of 200M plus films, 2007 is still running just slightly ahead of 2006, in terms of money and actual tickets sold. (No Dave, I don’t think its a slump.) There was 44 films last year that earned between 50M – 100M as opposed to only 18 thus far this year. Where did all the medium range hits go?

  26. Dr Wally says:

    “Is Will Smith truly the last Movie Star on the planet” I don’t think you can hold Cruise accountable for the non-performance of LFL anymore than you can Magnolia. Valkyrie, however, will be a big test for him. I still consider Hanks and maybe Sandler (albeit within a more limited repetoire)to be true movie stars.

  27. waterbucket says:

    No, Johnny Depp would not gross $165 mil with Pursuit and Will Smith would not gross $10 katrillion with Pirates.
    Will Smith has never done anything outside of his comfort zone. Pursuit was merely another uplifting against-the-odd kind of movie that had Oprah declare the best thing since sliced bread to her brain-washed minions. Has he even played any villain like Denzel? The only true testament to his star power was Hitch. Will simply has a great agent who has managed to find him greatly marketable and accessible movies that appeal to everybody. Heck, I’m not even a Will fan but I will go see Legend because I love futuristic movies and the half-naked Will in the trailer.
    If you put Will Smith and Johnny Depp each in a depressing indie like Requiem for a Dream then we’ll see who’s the bigger star.

  28. jesse says:

    Also, while Smith surely is the current box-office king and has had more versatile success than most of his competitors, I do question the idea that Pursuit of Happyness is evidence that he can get anything over $100 million. Don’t get me wrong: $163 million for an effects-free single-star drama is damned impressive. But it’s not as if that movie *wasn’t* a huge crowd-pleaser. Part of Smith’s track record — as is the case with any near-perfect movie-star track record — is that even his darker and/or artier stuff tends to be extremely commercial. Post-Six Degrees, has he done anything on the low-commercial-potential level of Punch-Drunk Love (Sandler), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Carrey), or The Ladykillers (Hanks)? Does he ever take supporting roles in movies like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (a la Julia Roberts) or Magnolia (a la Cruise)? Not really.
    Of course all of those big stars have more than one sub-$100-mil grosser, sometimes with more potentially commercial material (The Terminal, The Number 23, Spanglish). But I don’t know that Smith would have this amazing box-office streak (which only fuels the obsession with actors NEVER having a financial underperformance, as if that’s really possible) if his resume had a little more risk to it.

  29. jesse says:

    I mostly agree, waterbucket (we were posting similar thoughts almost simultaneously) — although not every Oprah-like uplift story makes it past $160 mil.

  30. movieman says:

    Insightful comments on Smith.
    Aside from (maybe) “Ali,” Smith hasn’t taken a whole lot of risks as an actor.

  31. movieman says:

    Of course I mean the post-“Independence Day” Smith.
    “6 Degrees” was a pretty ballsy move when he was still just dipping his toe into theatrical waters.

  32. bulldog68 says:

    I agree with most of the sentiments expressed that Will has mostly stayed within his comfort zone, but I guess my point is that with LFL, and Tom Cruise on board and front and centre of your campaign, it should have at least opened, not to 40M but at least 15m, otherwise whats the point of having Tom Cruise in your movie. To mimic Chris Rock, you could have had Jude Law for this size opening. Can a movie truly be sold on actor above the title branding anymore, or is that fading as fast as VHS?
    Dave has opined often on budgets of movies and can studios now justify 20/20 deals with actors when films like Lord of the Rings, Wedding Crashers, Superbad, Transformers, 40 YOV, Knocked Up, 300 and others embarass the super salary minded movie moguls, when more and more ‘its the movie stupid’ is proving itself ever more often.
    New filmakers are driving the effort to bring new stories, worlds, visions, and actors to the fore with different and wide ranging skills. If the ‘movie star’ is dead or dying, I’m not so sure I’ll be mourning a great deal. I would love to see Will outside his comfort zone. He did good with Ali, and I actually thought he should have won. Denzel was great, but I don’t think the Academy could reconcile giving the Fresh Prince of Bel Air a lead actor award before the great (with absolutely no sarcasm intended) Denzel.
    Denzel was not known for playing bad guys, and he blew that role out of the water. I look forward to when Will will take that chance. (If i kind of rambled please forgive me, took 2 phone calls and strayed from my point.)

  33. brack says:

    “with LFL, and Tom Cruise on board and front and centre of your campaign, it should have at least opened, not to 40M but at least 15m, otherwise whats the point of having Tom Cruise in your movie.”
    Botomline: it wasn’t sold as a Tom Cruise movie. Unless he’s in every scene in all the trailers/commercials, everyone knows it. That’s why Magnolia didn’t open either. People just don’t blindly see anyone do anything.

  34. I have no idea why people continue to bother comparing Lions for Lambs with Magnolia. Sure, they both feature Cruise in a smaller capacity, but other than that…? what? They’re about as diametrically opposite as two films can be.

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“But okay, I promise you now that if I ever retire again, I’m going to ensure that I can’t walk it back. I’ll post a series of the most disgusting, offensive, outrageous statements you can ever imagine. That way it will be impossible for me to ever be employed again. No one is going to take my calls. No one is going to want to be seen with me. Oh, it will be scorched earth. I will have torched everything. I’m going to flame out in the most legendary fashion.”
~ Steven Soderbergh

I feel strongly connected to young cinephile culture. The thing about filmmaking—and cinephilia—is that you can’t keep hanging out with your own age group as you get older. They drop off, move somewhere. You can’t put together a crew of sixty-somethings. It’s the same for cinephilia: my original set of cinephile friends are watching DVDs at home or delving into 1958 episodes of ‘Gunsmoke,’ something like that. The people who are out there tend to be young, and I happen to be doing the same thing still, so it’s natural that I move in their circles.

In terms of the filmmaking, there was a gear shift: my first movies focused on people around my age, and I followed them for three films. Until The Unspeakable Act, I was using the same actors, not because of an affinity for people at a specific age, but because of my affinity for the actors. I like to work with actors a second time, especially if I don’t feel confident casting a new film. But The Unspeakable Act was a different script, and I had to cast all new people. Even for the older roles, I couldn’t get the people I’d worked with before. But when it was over, the same thing happened: I wanted to work with Tallie again in the worst way, and I started the process all over again.

I think Rohmer did something similar around the time of Perceval and Catherine de HeilbronnHe developed new groups of people that he liked to work with. These gear shifts are natural. Even if you want to follow certain actors to the end of their life (which I kind of do) the variety of ideas that you generate makes it necessary to change. And once you’ve made the change, you’ve got all these new people around.”
~ Dan Sallitt