Well folks, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opened to predictably spectacular numbers this weekend, bringing in $77 million from 4,285 theatres for an $18k average and $140 million domestic since its Wednesday premiere. With foreign cumes, it’s already topped $300 million in just five days.
And I think we can say unequivocally that the Potter franchise will end the summer in far better shape than its blockbuster counterparts in spite of being in its fifth outing. Obviously, the huge following behind J.K. Rowlings’ books is a big part of the films’ success, but I think the constant infusion of new talent in the director’s chair helps tremendously, something those other films lack.
The helmer this time is David Yates, who is best known for his television work for the BBC (his State of Play miniseries is supposed to be riveting, and I’d love to hear from anyone who’s seen it), which makes his selection especially gutsy on the part of the producers. But neither Mike Newell (best known for romantic comedies like Four Weddings and Funeral) or Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron (who was, at the time, coming off of the racy Y Tu Mama Tambien) seemed like obvious choices, and they both certainly paid off in spades with Goblet of Fire and Prisoner of Azkaban. Only Chris Columbus, who helmed the first two of the series, seemed like a typically good fit for the series, having made his name on larger-budget Hollywood features specifically aimed at family audiences. And his Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets seem to me the blandest of the series.
It makes me wonder if perhaps Sony will hand the Spiderman reins to… Joon-ho Bong? Guillermo Del Torro? Chris Carter? Thoughts from anyone else? Or, if they were to make more Ocean’s, Pirates, or Fantastic Four flicks, who do you think could get them back on track? Not the obvious Peter Jackson or James Cameron types, but somebody maybe flying under the studios’ radar right now? (And did I ask this question before? I feel like I might have, but let’s try it again anyway).
So that’s the big question this week. A big answer to the question of how well Michael Bay’s Transformers would hold up is… not too well. Not Hulk bad, but a 49% drop is a little steep, especially with everything else in the top ten holding up so well. Still, a $36 million take for the weekend is solid, as is the $8.8k average, and the $222 million total looks very good when measured against the $150 million budget. If that figure is accurate (and there’s really no way to know for sure if it is), it really is the best-looking $150 million movie I’ve ever seen. You would never know they didn’t spend Spiderman-type dollars on it. And however I feel about the movie, I’m deeply impressed by their good fiscal sense.
Ratatouille continues to do well, but its 38% drop to $18 million is still more than I expected with such good reviews and all the kids out of school. With $143 million in the bank so far, it will approach $200 million, but might not get past that figure. Live Free or Die Hard had a similar slide of 39% to $10.8 million and a $102 million total, but that’s more impressive for a straight-forward and relatively CGI-less action flick. Domestic numbers won’t cover the $110 million budget (remember, box office numbers have to just about double the budget to cover it), but with overseas looking good it should turn out to be very profitable for Fox. On a somewhat related note, I re-watched Die Hard 2 this weekend, and it really is sub-par for the franchise. Damn you, Renny Harlin!
In fifth was the critically-reviled Robin Williams/Mandy Moore comedy License to Wed, which held up much better than I expected, slipping just 28% to $7 million and a relatively healthy $30 million total. Still, I’m just about to give up all hope that Williams can parlay these minor box office victories into something I’d actually like to see. 1408 followed in sixth with $5 million, down just 29%, for a $62 million total. I think I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t wild about the film, but I haven’t seen a horror film hold up this well since The Ring.
Evan Almighty continues to struggle towards a nine-digit gross with $4.9 million and an $87 million total. I guess they haven’t really gone wide with it overseas, because even with foreign totals it’s still not over $100 million. Knocked Up, of course, is well over that figure. It fell 30% this weekend to $3.6 million and a $138 million total. Judd Apatow’s smash hit may wind up profiting more that Evan even grosses.
Sicko continues to do well but not exceptional, hanging onto the ninth spot again with $2.6 million, down 26%, for a $15 million total. Poor Michael Moore has to look at this as kind of a disappointment financially, even though most documentarians would sacrifice a limb for that king of gross. Ocean’s 13 rounded out the top ten with $1.9 million in its sixth week and a reasonable $112 million total.
And opening outside the top ten was Roland Joffe’s Captivity, After Dark Films latest entry in the genre some people insist on referring to as ‘torture porn’ (I find this title pretty offensive, but my own ’70′s grindhouse’ nomenclature failed to catch on, no doubt thanks to Grindhouse‘s failure, so here we are) opened really poorly in the twelve spot with $1.5 million from 1,312 screens for a dismal $1.2k average. I guess there is such a thing as bad publicity.
In any event, that’s it for this week, folks. Tune in next week when we get two special treats: John Travolta in a fat suit in Hairspray, and Adam Sandler and Kevin James pretending to be gay in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Yippee.
See you then.