This may rank as the worst pun in the short history of moviegasm, but audiences went hog-wild for Wild Hogs this weekend as it brought in a strong $38 million from 3,287 theatres for an $11.5k average per screen.
It’s easy to look at a figure like this, especially compared to Zodiac‘s paltry $13 million opening, and focus on the negative, but for once, let’s try to stay positive.
John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and Tim Allen have each, individually, given us some bad movies and some pathetic box office returns, to be sure. Probably more bad than good at the end of the day, but truth be told I don’t have much ill will towards any of them. Travolta will always have Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction, I found Martin amusing in Nothing to Lose and Boomerang, and Tim Allen was subdued and quite funny in the underrated Big Trouble, plus I just talked to a publicist who insisted he was a very nice, personable guy. I may never see Wild Hogs, but if the returns on this give these guys a chance to make something good down the road, then so be it.
You’ll notice I left William H. Macy out of that mini-tirade. That’s because Macy is a damn fine character actor chasing a paycheck here, and if it gives him a little more box office clout, then hopefully it’ll help get his next David Mamet movie off the ground, or reunite him with the Coen brothers, or lead to something good for him. Compared to his costars, Macy’s been getting chicken feed over the years while turning in better work. He’s earned the right to cash out now and then.
So that’s the silver lining, as far as I can tell. The bad news to me is that so many more people turned out for Hogs than for David Fincher’s Zodiac, which opened in second place with the aforementioned $13 million from a thousand fewer theatres for an acceptable $5.5k average. Zodiac is one of the best reviewed films so far this year, and boasts a great cast of rising stars (as opposed to Hogs falling stars) in Jake Gyllenhal, Mark Ruffalo, and the increasingly brilliant Robert Downey, Jr. But the R-rated pic appealed to a smaller audience, was hurt by a misleading and relatively poor marketing campaign, and probably challenged audiences with its two-and-a-half-hour running time.
I had the chance to check it out this weekend, so look for a review today or tomorrow, but suffice it to say it’s a high-quality movie (especially for this time of year) and worth your time, and it’s a shame that more people didn’t turn out for it. Budget is rumored to be between $75 and $85 million, so even if it shows great legs, it’s going to be a loser for Paramount. Which means you’re likely to see Wild Hogs 2 before you see another Fincher movie, and that’s a shame.
Ghost Rider slipped to third with $11.5 million, down 42%, for a $94.7 million total. Even with another $40 million from overseas, this is looking more like Daredevil and less like X-Men or Fantastic Four for Marvel’s movie division. Bridge to Terabithia continues to hold on well, placing fourth with $8.5 million, down 40%, for a $57.8 million total.
The Number 23 fell predictably hard given word on the street, about 51% to $7 million and a $24.6 million total, or roughly enough to cover Carrey’s salary. Norbit continues to defy logic by showing good legs, even in the face of direct competition from Hogs, bringing in $6.4 million, down just 34% (the best hold in the top ten, if you can believe it), and bringing its total to $82 million. Hopefully that’s some consolation to Eddie Murphy after losing out on the Oscar. Music and Lyrics also held up well, slipping 36% to $4.8 million and a $38.6 million total.
Black Snake Moan didn’t do too well in its first outing, making just $4 million from 1200 theatres for a $3k average. Even relative stars like Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci couldn’t bring in the opening a starless Hustle & Flow (director Craig Brewer’s previous film) did- about $8 million- and that in spite of good reviews and some fairly controversial imagery. Reno 911!: Miami fell hard in its second week, tumbling 63% to $3.7 million and a $16 million total. Still, with a budget of only $10 million, this looks to be in the black for Fox, as well as giving some publicity for the show’s return on Comedy Central; not a bad move from a business perspective.
And in tenth place was Breach with $3.4 million, down 41%, for a $25 million total. I’d like to point out that in Breach, Black Snake Moan, and Zodiac, we have three well reviewed, very adult movies coming out at a time that is usually a dumping ground for dreck like Wild Hogs and Music and Lyrics, and all three are set to lose money. Why do we only go see “good” movies between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Where are the people who churned out $55 million for The Good Shepherd, and why aren’t they interested in Breach? I wish I had an answer to offer, but I don’t. What do you insightful readers think?
So that’s it for this week. Join us next week when Zach Snyder follows up his fantastically entertaining remake of Dawn of the Dead with an adaptation of Frank (Sin City) Miller’s 300 and proves that you can’t use too much slow motion in a movie trailer.