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National Treasure: Book of Secrets may have topped the weekend box office, but Juno had the biggest jump into second place, and so, since I’m sick of talking about Nicholas Cage and National Treasure, Juno gets the big picture at the top, and most of the opening comments.
Let’s hear it for independent movies, good marketing, and, hopefully, next week’s box office champion.Just to get National Treasure out of the way, it dropped 42% to $20 million and a $170 million domestic total, plus another $60 million overseas. Monster hit, but we all knew that. Juno, on the other hand, added 906 theatres (final count was 1,925) and with them jumped 49% to $15.8 million for the weekend, an impressive $8k average, and a $51 million total. With more awards and theatres to come, this should easily pass $100 million domestic, and will provide a big boost to just about everyone involved.
Naturally, everyone is singing the praises of star Ellen Page, who is now neck-in-neck with Enchanted‘s Amy Adams for breakout star of the year. Co-star Michael Cera had an even bigger year, with Juno‘s success coming on the heels of Superbad (there is even a modest supporting actor Oscar push for Cera, though support seems divided between the two films). I’m less of a believer in Cera, whose performances all seem like an extension of his character on Arrested Development. Don’t get me wrong; he’s very good and very funny at what he does, but I want to see some range before I christen him a new movie star.
So, since there’s plenty of talk about those two everywhere, let’s talk about J.K. Simmons. Simmons, who plays Page’s father in Juno, is maybe the quintessential ‘that guy’. You’ve seen him in a few things, and whenever you do, you think, ‘Hey, isn’t that the guy from…’ Pretty soon, you hop on imdb and learn his name, and then you start to see him everywhere, and realize that he’s great in just about everything. I first noticed him aping Gene Siskel in The Ref (my favorite Christmas movie of all time, by the by), but wasn’t really impressed until I saw him on HBO’s Oz. His work there is such a far cry from his hilarious and critically lauded work as J. Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman movies that it’s hard to believe. He’s also been a regular on Law & Order (a haven for great character actors) and The Closer on TNT, and of everyone involved with Juno, Simmons is the one I’m most happy for (Jason Bateman is a close second, after struggling through disappointments like The Ex, Smokin’ Aces, and The Kingdom). The guy’s got an Oscar nomination coming his way in the next five years; you heard it here first.
After Juno were two more films about which I have simply run out of things to say. I Am Legend jumped back over Alvin and the Chipmunks with $15.7 million and a $228 million domestic total (and a very impressive $397 million worldwide), while Chipmunks fell to fourth with $15.5 million and a $176 million total. Then we get to something interesting.
One Missed Call opened to $12.5 million from 2,240 theatres for a $5.5k average. Middle of the road numbers, nothing impressive, right? That’s true, except I really thought this would do $5 to $7 million. For better or worse, remakes of Asian horror films are done, done, done. Shannyn Sossamon hasn’t had a hit since A Knight’s Tale, and I’m still not entirely convinced that she and Rosario Dawson aren’t the same person. And poor Ed Burns couldn’t even get his name in the trailer. Man, what happened to that guy? Remember when he burst on the scene with The Brothers McMullen, and how good he was in Saving Private Ryan? Now he can’t get his name in the credits as an actor, and his last directorial effort premiered on iTunes. Yikes, this can be a fickle business.
My point is, I’m surprised at how well One Missed Call did, especially when you factor in that it’s got a 0% rating on Rottentomatoes.com. Dig that? Zero. Forty-five reviews, all negative. There’s a guy out there who called Resident Evil: Extinction the best movie of the year, but Warner Bros. can’t find one critic to say, ‘meh, One Missed Call isn’t a total burn’. So it’ll fall off quickly, and it won’t help Ed Burns at all. But it does show that there’s still some interest in this kind of film, which has to be good news for Lionsgate, who’s set to release The Eye February 1st. I can only hope a little success on that front will convince one of the studios to pick up Takashi Shimizu’s Reincarnation, which deserves to be remade more than Eye or Call.
Charlie Wilson’s War continues to do exactly what I thought it would , and exactly what Universal execs had to be hoping for: dropping slowly, hanging around the top ten, and waiting for Oscar nominations. War won’t be a best pic nominee, but should draw enough attention to get it into the black. This week it fell 32% to $8 million and raised it’s total to $52 million. Somehow, P.S. I Love You dropped just 15% to $7.8 million and a respectable $39 million total. If it hangs on like that a few more weeks and crosses $50 million, Hilary Swank could find herself in demand for more romantic leads, an outcome I would not have thought possible after the film’s $6 million opening.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep was eighth with $6.2 million and a $30 million total, followed by Sweeney Todd with a respectable 32% drop to $5.5 million and a $38 million total. Again, awards would help, but no matter what, Dreamamount will have a hard time recouping the $50 million budget domestically. Oscar bait Atonement climbed into the tenth spot by adding 273 theatres and grossing $5 million for a $19 million total. Word on the street is that the period piece is losing Oscar steam, but my guess is old school Academy members will still vote it in as a best pic nominee.
And that about wraps it up for this week. Check back next week when Ice Cube gets back to his comic roots in First Sunday, Uwe Boll punishes critics with In the Name of the King, and something called The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything opens, although I’ve heard absolutely nothing about it. More interesting will be the continued expansion of The Orphanage and There Will Be Blood. See you then.