Blades of Glory hung on to the top spot at the box office in spite of a trio of well-hyped new releases, slipping just 30% in its second week to $23 million, making its total $68 million on a budget of $61 million. It’ll clear triple-digits easily. Meet the Robinsons remained in second with $17 million, a 32% slide, bringing its total to $52 million. I’m still poking around for the 3D theatre projections, but if Robinsons continues to show legs like this, I may owe reader Vic an apology.
But not yet.
Ice Cube’s Are We Done Yet?, a critically reviled (pulling a 9% on rottentomatoes.com) family film that foolishly billed itself as inspired by an old Cary Grant/Myrna Loy movie called Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, opened in third with $15 million from 2,877 theatres for a decent $5k average and a total gross of $19 million since its Wednesday opening, which is about on par with it’s predecessor, Are We There Yet?. Well, at least it’s work for the great John C. McGinley, who should be winning Emmy after Emmy for his work on Scrubs. I like Ice Cube, and it wasn’t so long ago that he was fairly well-respected writer/director/producer/actor who kept his budgets low and targeted niche markets to make respectable money on respectable movies. But something about Barbershop and XXX2 just filled his eyes with dollar signs, and he’s gotten away from what he does best (nobody would accuse Ice Cube of having range as an actor, but he’s at least a competent straight man when paired with the right actors. And no, I’m not thinking of Jon Voight in Anaconda). I’d like to see Cube team up with Chris Rock for a movie, maybe even something semi-serious where both work on the script, Rock directs and Cube acts. Just throwing it out there.
Harvey Weinstein seems to be suffering from the same problem as Cube, as evidenced by the lackluster opening of the much-anticipated Grindhouse, a three-hour double-feature homage to the exploitation films of the seventies, courtesy of directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Projections put the film opening between $20 and $25 million; Sunday’s figures came in at just $11.5 million from 2,603 screens for a $4.4k average. They’re reporting the budget at $53 million, but word around the campfire puts that number more accurately around $70 million, which means the recently-formed Weinstein company is probably going to take a bath on this.
Harvey’s already talking about re-releasing them as two separate pics in a few weeks to try and make up some of the difference (the foreign release was always planned as two separate pics), but it seems to me the damage is already done. On the one hand, I respect the guy for taking a chance on this kind of project. And they worked a financial miracle by splitting Tarantino’s Kill Bill into two volumes. If he’d left them as one movie, it probably would have done about what Grindhouse did. The real problem, though, is that a tough-as-nails producer would have forced QT to make Kill Bill a two hour movie, and if you ask me, it would have been better for it. In fact, the old Harvey Weinstein was known around the industry as “Harvey Scissorhands” back in his Sling Blade indie days, would never have released a three-plus hour homage to a dead genre aimed at teenagers who weren’t born when it was in its heyday. Nor would have released The Aviator or Kill Bill with those kinds of run times, and as much as directors hated him for it, in retrospect I think a lot of those movies were better for his meddling.
But his movies and budgets have gotten more bloated since those days, and his post-Disney pics have almost all been box office disasters. Now I’m hearing that, in the wake of the Grindhouse debacle, financiers are looking to pull out of the newly-formed Weinstein Company. Take a lesson from your good buddy Scorsese, Harvey, and get back to basics. You discovered Tarantino, Rodriguez, Kevin Smith… but you can’t succeed on their coattails alone. Get back to Sundance, even Slamdance, and find some new talent. Small budgets. Niche markets. The returns aren’t as big, and the prestige isn’t the same, but this is your gift, man.
Hilary Swank wasn’t exactly swinging for the fences with The Reaping, either. That ‘Biblesploitation’ movie (sorry, Variety, but I’m adopting that phrase for my own) opened in fifth with just $10 million from 2,603 screens for a $3.8k average and a $12 million total since its Thursday opening. I thought WB did a nice job marketing Reaping, but it didn’t come close to the $30 million opening for the similarly-themed Exorcism of Emily Rose. I guess Hilary Swank will just have to continue treading water until her next Oscar.
300 continues to hold up well, slipping just 22% to $8.8 million and a $193 million total. Hopefully, these numbers will bode well for director Zack Snyder’s next movie, the long-gestating comic adaptation of Watchmen. Like I said, I like the guy’s style, if not his substance, but that’s still enough to look forward to his next project. Wild Hogs came in seventh with $6.8 million, down 21%, for a $145 million total. Shooter was eighth with $5.8 million and a $36 million total, followed by TMNT, which is falling much faster than kid pics usually do, down another 46% to $4.9 million and a $46 million total. If there’s a sequel, it’ll go direct-to-DVD. Opening in tenth was Firehouse Dog with $4 million from 2,860 screens and a $1.3k average. I’m tempted to make snide remarks about this movie, but it just seems too easy.
Opening decently in limited release was Lasse Halstrom’s new movie The Hoax, which made $1.5 million from 235 screens for a decent $6k average. The movie’s gotten some decent reviews and apparently boasts a very good performance from Richard Gere, who is growing on critics in his old age. It reminds of John Huston’s line in Chinatown, something like “Buildings, politicians, and whores all get respectable if they survive long enough.” That’s a little harsh for Gere, but man do I hate First Knight. He and Halstrom both need a hit here, and I think Miramax is making a mistake by going wide with it next week; that $6k average doesn’t indicate enough interest for a big opening yet.
That’s it for this week, friends and foes. Check back next week when a slew of mediocre movies open to try and turn some kind of profit before Spiderman 3 takes over the whole world, including the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, whose actual title is too long for me to finish typing out, teen thriller Disturbia, Pathfinder, Redline, Perfect Stranger,Slow Burn… honestly, too many to make jokes about all of them. I’ll start working on them now and have them ready next Monday. See you then.