Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
I was going to open by talking about Hostel II‘s opening, and what it might mean for the horror genre, but there’s already much talk about that floating around. So just for a change of pace, why don’t we actually start with the weekend’s number one movie and talk about Ocean’s 13? In case you hadn’t guessed, it had a decent opening with $37 million from 3,565 theatres for a $10k average. That puts it right on par with it’s predecessors, 11 having opened at $38 and 12 at $39. As summer three-quels go, that might seem pretty lackluster. But the Ocean’s films have never been about shattering box office records. They have broad appeal, more so with older audiences than, say, Spiderman 3, so they have good legs, and the cast helps them do very good business overseas.
But more importantly- to me, at least- they provide a pleasant, inoffensive way of keeping some talented folks commercially viable. Foremost among them is Steven Soderbergh, who’s had a rough go of it at the box office lately, especially among his more personal, indie projects like Bubble. I respect the guy because he is constantly pushing himself with those films, but it’s a different beast to get artistically relevant pics pushed through the studio system, and he seemed to have a knack for it with Out of Sight, Traffic, and Erin Brockovich to his credit. But The Good German hurt, I think, but he’s bounced back with the relatively well-received 13, and as long as it winds up in the vicinity of 12‘s $125 million domestic haul, he won’t have any problems getting his next pic off the ground.
Ditto for George Clooney, who approached Soderberg’s banner year two years ago with the one-two punch of Good Night and Good Luck, on which he served as director, co-writer, and co-star, to the tune of two Oscar nods (writing and directing), and his terrific supporting performance in the underrated Syrianna, which won him the Oscar for best supporting actor. But neither of those films made a huge commercial splash, and he took a hit with The Good German as well. So here’s hoping that his continued success in the Ocean’s films allows him to get good projects off the ground. Matt Damon doesn’t really need the help, coming off of The Departed (plus a new Bourne film in the can), but I remain impressed with his ability to balance serious films with things that just seem more fun for him (his cameo in the otherwise dreadful Eurotrip is hysterical). Brad Pitt’s in basically the same boat, still riding the commercial success of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, along with his best reviews in years for Babel. And, of course, it’s always nice to see Al Pacino having fun.
So all in all, I’m happy to report these numbers, and I think they bode well for summers and Oscar seasons yet to come.
Let’s skim through the less interesting numbers here. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End fell another 50% to $21 million and a $253 million total, continues to clean up overseas, etc., etc. Knocked Up had a predictably good hold, slipping 34% to $20 million and raising it’s total to $66 million. It’ll go into triple-digits easily. Surf’s Up, another animated penguin movie (ENOUGH already!) opened on the low end of expectations with $18 million from 3,528 screens for a $5k average. With plenty of competition, I don’t expect it to hold up too well, and will probably wind up a disappointment for Sony. Shrek the Third fell to fifth, down a more reasonable 43% to $15 million and a $281 million total. It’s still in the race for the highest domestic total of the summer.
Ah, now we get to the interesting part. In sixth with $8.7 million from 2,350 theatres and a $3.7k average was Eli Roth’s controversial Hostel II. The general consensus is that it underperformed (it’s precdecessor brought in a surprising $19 million, en route to a $45 million domestic total), and there’s no doubt that Lionsgate was hoping for more. But Roth and company were smart enough to keep the budget in check at $10 million, so nobody’s losing any money or jobs. The question seems to be, after this and the poor performance for The Hills Have Eyes 2, are we seeing the end of the branch of horror affectionately referred to of late as ‘torture porn’? I think the answer is yes. The Asian horror influence died out with Pulse, The Grudge 2, and The Messengers, and now it’s time to put the seventies grindhouse-influenced part to bed too.
But on a more significant note, some industry watchers are calling for the whole genre to go into hibernation for a while, as it’s certainly known to do from time to time. This won’t happen, because there is a familiar savior to the rescue: Stephen King. That’s right, folks, I’m looking forward to a trio of King adaptations, starting with 1408. That one’s based on one of the most frightening short stories I’ve ever read, and I like John Cusack in the main role. But it looks like they’ve foolishly thrown in a lot of fancy effects to bolster the budget and justify big time producer fees… when will they learn that this movie makes more money if you make it for $10 million that if you make it for $40 million? Still, I think it will have enough moments to be worthwhile and enough star power to wind up in the $50-$60 million range. Later this year, none other than Frank Darabont will be releasing his long-gestating adaptation of a terrific, Lovecraftian novella called The Mist, staring Thomas Jane. This is a claustrophobic, balls-out monster romp, and I can’t wait to see the usually-gentile Darabont get back to his Dream Warriors roots with this one. Watch out, I’m telling you. And finally, the previously mentioned Eli Roth takes a crack at one of King’s latest novels, Cell, an interesting twist on the zombie-apocalypse genre. I confess to not being that into Roth (I HATED Cabin Fever), although many of the most scathing reviews of his Hostel movies point out that he has a certain flare as a director, and I think his directing Cell is the perfect match of talent and material. That one’s furthest from being realized, but I also think it’s going to be the most impressive.
Horror ain’t dead, folks. It’s not hibernating. It’s just taking a five-minute breather while the old master gives it a fresh kick in the ass. Mark my words.
Alright, on to the rest of the top ten. At number seven is Mr. Brooks, which I’m slowly starting to hear some good things about, especially William Hurt. It brought in $5 million, down 50%, for a total of $18 million in ten days. Spiderman 3 followed in eighth with $4.4 million, down 41%, for a $325 million total. Waitress slipped to ninth place with $1.6 million, down just 18%, for a $12 million total. And Disturbia came in at number ten with just $550k and a $77 million total.
That’s it for this week, folks. Tune in next week when Nancy Drew gets her ass kicked by the Fantastic Four (man would I pay to see that movie!). See you then.