That’s it, folks. The Farrelly Brothers are done. Finished. Kaput. I expected, and kind of hoped, that The Heartbreak Kid would buy them a reprieve from director’s jail. But after the underrated Stuck on You brought in just $33 million, followed by Fever Pitch‘s $42 million (the first of their films not advertised as ‘A Farrelly Brothers movie’), and now with Kid‘s paltry $14 million opening from 3,229 theatres for a $4.3k average, my guess is they won’t get another shot at a studio-released feature.
So I hope they invested their money well.All the pieces seemed to be in place here. Ben Stiller is obviously a spotty box office presence, but he was coming off the phenomenally successful Night at the Museum. The Farrelly’s brand of sweet but blue humor seemed very much in tune with Judd Apatow’s, which has been so successful for months. There was good buzz coming into the weekend. Then it was trashed by critics, ignored by moviegoers, and Bobby and Peter must have known Saturday morning when Friday’s numbers rolled in that they were in trouble.
What’s sad is that, when There’s Something About Mary came out all those years ago to rave reviews and $176 million at the box office, would anyone have dreamed that these seemingly-rising stars of comedy would never get any higher? When the ads for Kid ran on television, hyping it as “from the guys that brought you There’s Something About Mary“, all I could think of was poor Billy Friedkin, who’s been riding the success of The Exorcist and The French Connection for thirty years now, and hasn’t had a genuine hit since. But the difference between Friedkin and the Farrelly’s, besides his Best Director Oscar, is that Friedkin is married to former Paramount topper Sherry Lansing, and she kept him working decades after other directors would have been considered finished (they, of course, claim that their relationship had nothing to do with him landing projects like Jade and Rules of Engagement, but come on…)
Proof positive: Now that Lansing’s gone, and Friedkin’s Bug died at the box office, Billy was last scene directing an opera in Germany. The Farrelly’s might be able to get some TV work, but a musical adaptation of There’s Something About Mary to be performed in the Ukraine doesn’t seem far off. Maybe Bono and the Edge can contribute the score.
I know that sounds harsh, and this isn’t to comment on the quality of either Friedkin or the Farrelly’s work. But at the end of the day, all that really matters to studios is the big BO. It makes and breaks careers every weekend, which is what makes mine such an interesting job.
In other news, The Game Plan managed to stay atop the weekend charts with $16 million, an amazingly slim 30% slide, for a $42 million total. I keep watching that Southland Tales trailer and hoping this will help, but they’re aimed at such wildly different audiences, I don’t think Tales stands a chance. Peter Berg’s The Kingdom had a decent second week, dropping 45% to $9 million but leaving the total at a disappointing $31 million. Resident Evil: Extinction also fared okay in it’s third week, raking in $4.3 million for a 46% drop and a $43 million total. With a $62 million worldwide total, I guess R.E.3 wasn’t such a bad investment for ScreenGems. A fourth installment is a possibility. It’s not like Milla Jovovich has anything else to do.
What was Fox doing with The Seeker: The Dark is Rising? This was supposed to be the first chapter of their own Lord of the Rings saga, yet I saw zero ads for this, and I watch a lot of television. I also read the trades and a lot of blogs, and I heard zippo about this. So, not surprisingly, it debuted in fifth place with just $3.7 million from 3,141 theatres for an abysmal $1k average. If that God-awful Time Machine remake with Guy Pearce could open to $22 million, you could have put a little money into this and tried to recoup a little on opening weekend. I’m sure it cost a pretty penny to produce, based on a series of books that have something of a following. This is even worse than Paramount’s handling of Stardust, and that’s saying something. At least Paramount buried it in fewer theatres than Seeker. But to spend jack on P&A and then drop it into 3,000 theatres? What were they thinking?
Good Luck Chuck was sixth with $3.5 million, down 44%, for a $29 million total, followed by 3:10 to Yuma. Lionsgate’s western brought in another $3.4 million after five weeks in release (oldest film still hanging around the top ten), and brought it’s total to $48 million. Foreign cumes are still weak, but legs will keep director James Mangold in play, and the combination of this and the upcoming American Gangster could go a long way toward reviving Russell Crowe’s flagging box office performance. The Brave One finished ninth with $2.2 million, down 39%, and a $34 million total. Mr. Woodcock rounded out the top ten with $2 million and a $22 million total.
In limited release, George Clooney’s thriller Michael Clayton fared exceptionally well in fifteen theatres, bringing in $700k for a $46k average. Instead of slowly expanding, though, Warner Bros. is trying to capitalize on the good buzz by going wide (2400 theatres) next weekend. Clooney’s still a significant draw at the box office, but this isn’t an Ocean’s movie. It’s a somber, intelligent, adult thriller, and I think they’re jumping the gun. For instance, Into the Wild, The Darjeeling Limited, and Lust, Caution, all added about less than a hundred theatres, and kept their per screen averages over $10k.
And that about wraps it up for this week. Tune in next week when the aforementioned Michael Clayton tries to take the box office crown, but faces competition from the critically maligned Elizabeth: The Golden Age, James Gray’s We Own the Night, featuring frequent Clooney-collaborator Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Pheonix, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, and sports drama The Final Season. Plus Academy bait Control (about which I’ve heard great things), Sleuth (about which I’ve very little), and Lars and the Real Girl (said to feature a great Ryan Gosling performance), open limited. See you then.