You know, some Sundays I wake up, watch Sunday Morning Shootout on AMC (which any serious industry buff should be watching), then sit down at my computer to look at the weekend’s box office returns, and think: “what in the hell am I going to write about this week?”
Well, not so this Sunday. There is but one big story in Hollywood, and that is the unprecedented success of Spiderman 3. It opened in first place, lightyears ahead of the competition, bringing in $148 million from 4,252 theatres (and over 10,000 screens- one of many records it set), for a mind-boggling $34.8k average. Worldwide, it grossed $375 million, and set records for opening weekend and first day grosses, both domestic and foreign.
And yet, I wonder, does that mean as much as it used to?I only say that because it was just last summer that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest set similar records with $135 million in its debut weekend. Prior to that, the first Spiderman held the record for awhile (the second Spiderman film opened on a Wednesday, so its weekend totals were not as lofty, although it set plenty of mid-week opening records), but was given a run for it’s money by Star Wars: Episode III in ’05 and Shrek 2 in ’04. And yet none of them- even with the built-in audience of a sequel- have approached Titanic‘s $600 million domestic haul. So those weekend records may very well fall in two weeks when Shrek the Third opens, or the following week to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, but I won’t be really impressed until someone comes close to Titanic totals.
Now, that’s not to take anything away from Sony and Sam Raimi. There’s no such as thing as a guaranteed hit, and even with mediocre reviews, there’s something to be said for just making a project of this magnitude coherent and getting it onto screens. That said, though, rumor has it that Raimi won’t return for a fourth Spidey flick (and may be off to do The Hobbit for New Line- a good fit, if the lawyers can sort that mess out), but I hope Sony will let the dust settle before choosing a new director to breath some creative life back into the franchise. Harry Potter has, I think, set a good example for how shifting talent behind the camera can keep a franchise fresh, and for all its potential, I think Spiderman is dangerously close to losing its creative juice. Is it too light for Guillermo Del Torro, I wonder?
Although it almost seems like an afterthought, I guess we should run down the rest of the weekend’s numbers as well. Disturbia continues to do shockingly well, falling just 36% to $5.7 million and bringing its total to $59.8 million. Fracture followed in third with a less impressive $3.4 million, down 50%, for a $26 million total. The Invincible fell hard in its second week, dropping 59% to $3.1 million and a $12 million total. Director David Goyer may still be a go-to guy for comic book scripts, but his directorial efforts with this and Blade: Trinity have been less than impressive. Next is shaping up to be a bomb of impressive proportions, falling 61% to $2.7 million and just $11 million in the bank. No budget reported yet, but Cage collected at least $20 million up front, so I’m guessing it cost at least $70 million and almost certainly more. He’s got National Treasure 2 coming up, but I think Cage’s days as an action star are almost certainly up, and he needs to shore up his post-Adaptation acting credits if he wants to keep pulling in those kinds of paychecks. Maybe a reunion with the Coen’s, who have two new movies in the pipeline.
Poor Lucky You opened in sixth with just $2.7 million from 2,525 screens for a per-screen average of $998. You deserve better, Curtis Hanson. Meet the Robinsons followed with $2.4 million and a $91 million total. Blades of Glory hung around the top ten with $2.3 million and a $111 million total. Hot Fuzz isn’t holding up as well as I expected, dropping 57% to $2 million and a $16 million total. And Are We Done Yet? rounded out the top ten with $1.7 million and a respectable $46 million total.
In (very) limited release, there were a few movies worth mentioning as well. Adrienne Shelley’s Waitress opened in four theaters and made $91,500, for a very good $22k average. Shelley was a working actress who parlayed her connections into some success as a writer and director, but was found murdered in New York apartment in November of last year, while she was finishing up Waitress. By all accounts, she was a wonderful person and Waitress, which stars Keri Russell, is supposed to be very good. Keep an eye out for it as it goes wide. Actress Sarah Polley, best known for her work with Atom Egoyan (she’s fantastic in The Sweet Hereafter) and for Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, also broke into writing and directing with Away From Her, staring the too-seldom-seen Julie Christie, which is also supposed to be very good. I love to see a good but under-recognized actor take a chance with directing (like Buscemi did with Tree’s Lounge), and Away From Her did reasonably well, taking in $56k from four theatres for a $14k average. Good for you, Sarah.
So that’s it for this week, folks. Tune in next week to see what Fox Atomic can do with 28 Weeks Later, if the team of Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy can do anything for Delta Farce, if the team of Zach Braff and Jason Bateman can make any success out of The Ex, or if all will just be crushed by Spiderman. Again. See you then.