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Before we get into the actual weekend box-office figures, I just want to take a moment for a little ha-ha-I-told-you-so moment. I’m not usually so petty, but… okay, yes, I am. But at last night’s SAG awards, who took the feature acting trophies? Forrest Whitaker, Helen Mirren, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson. All reaffirming the locks I posted in last weeks Oscar column. And Little Miss Sunshine took home the award for Best Ensemble, which gives it a little more momentum in the Best Picture race. We’ll see how all that plays out.
But enough gloating. On to some actual numbers.
Epic Movie took the box office crown this weekend with $19 million from 2800 theatres for a sturdy $6.8k average. With no stars to speak of, this one is probably going to be very profitable for Fox, and ensures that the run of Scary Movies and Date Movies continues ad infinitum. What’s interesting to me is that, while the others at least have a specific pool of genre movies to parody, Epic appears from the trailer to have just selected popular movies at random (there is no definition under which X-Men and Borat qualify as epic). A friend pointed out this morning, though, that it still works because the movie (and its brethren) is targeted at the people who paid to see the very movies that are being parodied, which is to say we already know they’re willing to plunk down $12 on Friday or Saturday to see whatever the next ‘big’ movie is. It’s actually kind of clever, even if the movies themselves aren’t.
Smokin’ Aces opened at number two with $14 million from about 600 fewer theatres, making its $6.4k average roughly comparable to Epic‘s, as are its almost equally derisive reviews. It benefited from little competition, and with a budget of only $17 million, will certainly wind up making more money that M:I 3, the project director Joe Carnahan was attached to prior to this. I thought his bailing on that over ‘creative differences’ with Tom Cruise was a bad move (after a startling debut feature in Narc), but after watching Tom self-destruct and basically take that movie with him, it’s starting to look like a smart move.
Night at the Museum was third with $9.4 million, down just 21% and bringing its total to $216 million. I know this is the kind of insight you people come here for, so I’m going to point that that is, in strict, Hollywood box-office terms, a lot of money. Catch and Release opened in fourth place with $8 million and an acceptable $4.9k average. Though not a stellar opening for Susannah Grant’s directorial debut (she wrote some good scripts for Erin Brockovich and “Party of Five”), I think Kevin Smith’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar is already in the bag. Stomp the Yard had another decent hold, slipping 36% to fifth with $7.8 million, bringing its total to $50 million. Do you realize the school that’s set at is called Truth University? Seriously.
Oscar nods didn’t help Dreamgirls as much as David Geffen would have liked as it came in sixth place this weekend with $6.6 million. That’s down just 17% from last weekend, but the distrib added 571 theatres to try and capitalize on its pack-leading eight nominations, so the per screen average fell to a not-so-good $2.3k. I’d say missing out on the Best Picture nod really did hurt, and with $86 million in the bank, this one looks to just creep over $100 million. That’s a lot of money, but nowhere near the $170 million that Chicago brought in.
Will Smith’s Oscar nomination also didn’t result in much for The Pursuit of Happyness, which fell 20% to seventh place with $5 million. Total, though, stands at a very healthy $153 million. Pan’s Labyrinth continues to do well, adding 214 theatres and bringing in $4.5 million for a decent $5k average. It’s brought in $16 million so far, which is impressive for a foreign flick with no stars, but could wind up with $35 million by the time awards season officially closes out. The Queen also capitalized on its nods, hanging onto the number nine spot for the second week in a row, in spite of being in its 18th week of release, and bringing its total to a very impressive $41 million. And, as expected, The Hitcher crumbled in its second week, falling 54% to the ten spot with $3.5 million and raising its total to a whopping $13 million. I’m telling you, we could be witnessing the end of remake fever.
A few other Oscar hopefuls made some respectable gains this weekend. The Departed was basically re-released into 1400 theatres and brought in another $3 million, making its total $124 million. Babel was right behind with $2.5 million, its $27 million total creeping towards a $35 million finale (though with a Best Pic Oscar, who knows?). And Letters from Iwo Jima continues to make money at a snail’s pace, adding 55 theatres and taking in $1.7 million for a total just under $5 million. I guess Clint’s pull with the Academy is stronger than his pull with audiences.
Oh, yeah. One more thing. The ridiculously titled teen-love-werewolf flick Blood and Chocolate opened at number fifteen with a dismal $2 million dollars. Now, we hashed this one out in the forums a little back when I first saw the trailer, but now that MGM has foolishly gone ahead and actually released it with that title, I want to put it to the moviegasm faithful: is that the worst title ever? I think so, although I was reminded this weekend that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is running a close second in my mind. What do you think?
On that note, I’ll call it a day for this week. Tune in next week when Because I Said So puts Diane Keaton’s recent resurgence to a real test, and the Pang Brothers’ filmThe Messengers puts my own theory about the decline in interest in horror films to the test.