What can you say about Eddie Murphy? I mean, really? When I saw the trailer for Daddy Day Care, I knew it was going to bomb. $104 million domestic box office. And when I saw the trailer for The Haunted Mansion? I knew that was going to bomb, too. $75 million domestic box office.
So when I saw the trailer for Norbit- many, many times (a big ‘thank you’ to the good marketing at people at Paramount, who ran it 7 billion times on every single television channel)- my first thought was: ‘That looks awful! It’s going to make a lot of money!’
And it did.
That’s right folks, Norbit made $33.7 million dollars this weekend to lead the pack. And in point of fact, I know a lot of people, smart people that I respect, who were so excited to see this movie that they made special plans and bought tickets online to be sure they caught it opening night. As of this moment, I don’t know whether they liked it or not, but I did not share their enthusiasm, although apparently a whole lot of other people did.
And the hell of it is, I like Eddie Murphy. He’s great- almost nomination worthy- in his duel roles in Bowfinger, and I think Boomerang is very underrated (it does get a bit too serious in the third act, but David Alan Grier and the great John Witherspoon are hysterical in supporting roles). And, of course, the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies, and his standup… there something almost dangerous, predatory, about Murphy’s smile when he’s really on. The guy’s got range, as evidenced by Dreamgirls, and yet he insists on chasing paychecks in movies like this. Word in the Academy sewing circles is that the actual content of the movie is so bad that it’s hurting Murphy’s Oscar chances, which seemed unflappable just a week ago. I’m still sticking with him to take the trophy home, but I’d also love to see the Academy honor an old vet like Alan Arkin or crown a new star in Mark Whalberg.
In other news, MGM’s Hannibal Rising did better than I would have expected (although about in line with industry expectations) in second place with $13.3 million and a $4.4k average. I expect that’s the last we’ll be seeing of Hannibal the Cannibal on the silver screen for some time, but then again, lets face it, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with the idea of remaking Silence of the Lambs, no doubt with Jack Black playing the infamous Dr. Lechter.
Because I Said So had a good hold in its second week, slipping just 31% to $9 million for a $25.6 million total. That’s far from Something’s Gotta Give numbers, but this still bodes will for Keaton’s resurgence. Hoepfully it’ll bring some better projects her way. The Messengers fell an expected 50% to $7 million and a $24 million total. I was able to catch that one this weekend, and my assessment last week basically held up: the Pangs’ did a nice job with atmospherics and scares but the script was very weak.
In fifth place was Night at the Museum, which I am, frankly, sick of talking about. But it only fell 10% ($5.7 million, $232 million total… yippee), so don’t expect it to fall out of the top ten anytime soon. I’m thinking of watching it out of spite, just so I’ll have sarcastic comments to make in future columns. Epic Movie was sixth with $4.4 million and a $34.4 million total. It’s fallen fast after a strong opening, which will hopefully encourage Kal Penn to do something else with his time (I dug his turn on the 24). Smolin’ Aces help up better than I expected, falling 38% to $3.7 million and a profitable $30.8 million in the bank.
Oscar nominees took up the final three spots in the top ten. Pan’s Labyrinth continues to show very good legs, falling just 3.6% to $3.5 million and a $26.5 million total. Dreamgirls continues to struggle toward the nine-figure mark, pulling in another $3 million and pushing its total to $97 million. The per-screen average continues to hover around $1.3k, and for the uninitiated, that ain’t good. And The Queen remained in tenth place (for what seems like forever now, doesn’t it?) with another $2.5 million, down just 5%, and bringing its suprising total to $49 million, by far director Stephen Frears highest grossing film.
Other Oscar nominees continue to hover outside the top ten, with Babel‘s average even climbing a bit (it did lose 170 theatres, though) and Letters from Iwo Jima slipping just 2%. They brought in $1.7 and $1.6 million respectively over the weekend, bringing totals $32 and $9.8 million. I mention these two specifically for one reason in particular. Do you know what the foreign totals are for Babel? $61 million! And for Letters? $41 million! These are supposed to be the best films released in the U.S. this year, and somehow more Tibetan sheepherders have seen them than Americans. Not sure where I’m going with that, it just seemed worth bringing up. But while we’re talking about it, what are the distribution people at Dreamamount waiting for? The nominations are out, Letters edged out Dreamgirls for the big ones… you’re not going to win any so its not going to get any better than this. Go wide already! I’m all for the slow rollout, letting the buzz build, especailly with an arthouse film, but after February 25th, moviegoers aren’t going to care how many nominations you got, and you’re only in 781 theatres!
Anyway, that’s it for this exciting addition of Weekend Box-Office with Sutter Cane. Tune in all week for reviews of all five Best Picture nominees, with a new one being posted each day, and, as always, check in next Monday to see why no one knows how to market a Billy Ray film as demonstrated by his new movie Breach, we make funny jokes about Nicholas Cage’s hairpiece in Ghost Rider (which will open big), Bridge to Terabithia proves that studios are now adapting children’s books at random, and Music and Lyrics continues to befuddle those of us who took Hugh Grant’s announcement of his retirement seriously.