Shockingly, terrifyingly, it turns out that most of my predictions in the Friday post turned out to be correct.
*”21” earned a respectable $23.7 million for the film’s budget ($35 million), winning the weekend though not doing much to reverse the modest box-office trend right now. As for theories about why it won, here’s a quote from Variety
Sony prexy of domestic distribution Rory Bruer credited a great cast, a compelling story and out-of-the-box marketing for the film’s perf.
“People knew they were in for a fun ride. The film brought to life a world you really felt you were a part of. We got a great mix, from older adults to younger adults, to males and to females,” Bruer said. “It was cool, fresh and different.”
Yes, “cool, fresh and different.” It’s not just a movie, it’s a salad dressing. (I also gotta say, I know some folks hate the Variety lingo, but I get a kick out of the word “prexy” for “president.” It sounds so non-threatening and sort of like a Keebler elf. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d want to entrust thermonuclear launch codes to a “prexy.”)
*Not one bit to my surprise, “Horton Hears a Who” stayed strong at #2 with a reasonably elephantine $17,425.00 as per the mighty Weekend Mojo. I’m a firm believer in the “nobody knows anything” school of looking at show business; there is nothing in this world harder to gauge than human irrationality. However, the one formula that seems genuinely unbreakable is that a family film that kids like and parents find even mildly entertaining is as close as the universe gets to a license to print money.
*I doubt the Mighty Fanboy boycott can truly take credit for it (though I can’t blame them for claiming it), but as predicted/wished, “Superhero Movie” came up with a fairly lousy third place showing for this kind of movie of $9,510,000 on 2,960 screens (more than 300 more screens than “21” opened on), despite the demonstration-disbanding efforts of the non-galactic storm troopers of mall security. “Just like Beggar’s Canyon back home”? Well, we take our triumphs where we find them, even if, to be fair, there’s some indication “Superhero Movie” might be at least a tiny bit better than other recent spoof films, as Cinematical’s Eugene Novikov schools us on the gradations.
*Of the other new movies this weekend, I’m not all that happy to report that Kimberley Peirce’s “Stop-Loss” did the predicted mediocre-to-terrible business, given that while it had a few fans among critics, its reviews and overall buzz were nowhere near strong enough to give it half a chance with such tough subject matter. Always sad to see the movie that at least tries get nailed.
Nevertheless, while its earnings of $4,525,000 were dismal, the per-screen average of “Stop-Loss” was $3,505 — actually nearly $300 bucks higher than “Superhero Movie,” so there’s that. Even, so, audiences bear the ignominy of being slightly more kind to both “Shutter” and “10,000 B.C.“, proud owners of 7 and 9 percent ratings on the RT meter. (Of the former, a PG-13 remake of a Thai horror film — points for originality since it wasn’t Japanese or Korean — Bullz-Eye’s own Jeff Giles wrote: “This will not be a theatrical hit. It will not find a new audience on DVD. You can officially pretend it was never made.”)
*Meanwhile, good ol’ Simon Pegg has had his cult status confirmed in the harshest way possible with the drubbing of his David Schwimmer-directed “Run, Fatboy, Run” which netted only $2,390,000 and had the lowest per-screen average of any new film this week. On the plus side, it also had the lowest budget, a mere $10 million, so there’s something to be said for thrift.
Meanwhile in Indiewood…. And, here too, yours truly seems to have called it. The immigration weepie, “Under the Same Moon” came in just below “Run, Fatboy, Run” with $2,251,000 — but did so while being in only 390 theaters (“Fatboy” was on over 1,100 screens, far too many for a modest comedy.) Its growth seems strong and this one could be headed for something like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” territory, driven, no doubt, by the eternally under-served Latino audience.
The only film I was sort of wrong about was that the highest per screen average of any film this week was “My Brother is an Only Child,” an interesting sounding, politically driven Italian film with great reviews, about which I made a crack implying I’d be the only person reading this column who would consider seeing the movie, nevertheless managed a whopping $10,500 per screen average. Of course, it’s only on one screen in NYC, but still….
And, finally, I was appalled to realize only too late that I had not mentioned the opening in limited release of the boxing-themed Adam Carolla vehicle, “The Hammer” because it wasn’t mentioned, well, anywhere, but last week’s “Ebert and Roeper” and perhaps some L.A. area local media, and so it had completely slipped my mind.
Now, some of you will be hooting in derision because you think of Adam as the slightly less unfunny guy on the early seasons of “The Man Show” and others will be perking up because he’s the even funnier guy on the early seasons of “The Man Show,” but radio fans, especially out here in SoCal, know Adam as the host of the only-ever listenable iteration of “Love Line,” and something of an actual comedy genius in terms of mastering the art of the impromptu rant about idiots who try to argue that they cheated on their signifant other’s “on accident,” or garbage collectors who refuse to pick up certain types of garbage. After he left “Loveline,” I feared that he’d never find a format as amenable to his particular skills. Certainly a well-reviewed movie was about the last place I expected to find him. However, in perhaps the most shocking development in filmed entertainment history, critics seem to like this movie, more or less, netting a very healthy 72% Fresh rating on the Tomato Meter.
But here’s the really strange part — even though it entirely failed to even register at Box Office Mojo, according to RT, “The Hammer,” which also got “two thumbs up” from Richard Roeper and Michael Phillips, did a very respectable per screen average of $4,857 for a total of approximately $97,000+ at twenty theaters. Not bad for a movie even confirmed movie-geeks aren’t hearing about just yet.
Could “The Hammer” wind up doing better than “Run, Fatboy, Run,” with a similar sports/rom-com set-up, but with possibly far better, old fashioned slow-roll-out release pattern? Weirder things have happened.