Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up: What Goes “Up” Actually Stays Up

Tonight, for just a few hours, the show business center of gravity shifts back to its old home of New York City for the Tony Awards, tonight hosted by Neil Patrick Harris — a guy just talented enough to get me to break my usual one-award-show-per-year regimen (Oscars, naturally). But we still have some box office news to report…

After yesterday’s b.o. surprise, the world has set itself right on its axis and Disney/Pixar’s PG-rated, family (if not toddler and kindergartner) friendly “Up” managed to nose out this week’s genuine sleeper, Warner’s “The Hangover,” $44.2 to $43.3 million. And, hey, it’s no revelation to say that “Up” appeals to people of all age groups and genders, but can someone make Nikkie Finke and the Hollywood denizens she writes for stop calling it a “four quadrant” film? They could say it was a film that appeals to “all audiences” or that it attracts, say, “everyone,” but then people might understand what they’re talking about.

Sleeeestaaak..........Of course, where there are winners, there are losers, and that would be what Variety perhaps laughingly refers to as a Will Ferrell “laffer,” “Land of the Lost.” The picture was apparently avoided by more grown-up audiences as one would avoid a Sleestak with digestive issues, netting a subpar $19.5, about one-third shy of the studio’s expectations. (Those seeking an extra bit of  schadenfreude need only see the comments by Dave, Jason, and Will on yesterday’s afore-linked “Hangover” surprise post.) Another, even less surprising, loser was “My Life in Ruins,” which netted a horrendous $3.2 million from 1,164 screens, coming in at the #9 spot in its first week. How many quadrants would that be?

A movie like “Ruins” really can be hurt by reviews, which is why it’s interesting to note that the week’s highest per screen average of $35,750 was achieved by “Away We Go,” the small Sam Mendes-directed comedy written by Dave Eggars and the alliterative Vendela Vida, and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph,  I eluded to on Friday. As Anne Thompson pointed out in a post which I think I’ve linked to multiple times for multiple self-serving reasons, the film doesn’t seem to have the kind of reviews required for an indie hit, so I’m expecting this one to fade as it goes into wider release. Not that there might not be an audience for the film, which, going (unfairly, I’m sure) by the trailer, looks like a sweetened-up version of David O. Russell’s 1996 farce, “Flirting with Disaster” (am I borrowing this thought from someone?). Personally, I’ll take the tangier version.

  

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