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“Shutter Island,” “Cop Out,” and “The Crazies” mine money from mayhem for an R-rated weekend

Pretty much everything happened this weekend the way it was supposed to. As discussed here late Thursday (or very early Friday if you’re on the East Coast), Martin Scorsese‘s cop-psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, “Shutter Island,” was expected to come in at the #1 spot after having a drop of something in the 50% range. Meanwhile, the new Kevin Smith-directed Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan buddy-cop comedy, “Cop Out,” and the quasi-zombie horror remake, “The Crazies,” were supposed to fight it out for the #2 spot and do reasonably well. That’s precisely what happened.

As per the filmic bean coutners of Box Office Mojo,  “Shutter Island” suffered only a lower-than-usual 45.9% drop. It therefore stayed on-top with a healthy estimated $22.2 million for Paramount, which won’t hurt the Scorsese/DiCaprio brand any.

Tracey Morgan and Bruce Willis I thought “Cop Out” was, at heart, a moderately lousy movie but also had to admit to almost kind of enjoying a lot of it. That was a rave compared to most critics. Still, as I suspected, the movie delivered the cop comedy goods just enough to keep audiences coming  and it netted Warners a perfectly acceptable estimated $18.5 million in the #2 spot for a modestly budgeted ($30 miillion) comedy.

“The Crazies,” which actually got its share of decent reviews, scored a solid estimate of $16.5 for the weekend for Overture. That’s actually a bit better than it sounds for the George A. Romero remake, because it was in nearly 500 fewer theaters than “Cop Out” and its per screen was average was nearly $700 higher than the comedy. Also, with stars Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell presumably asking less upfront than Morgan and Willis, it’s budget was $10 million cheaper.

The highest per screen average this week was, as usual, for a limited release film. Still, considering that it expanded this week from four to 43 theaters this weekend and managed a really good $20,233 per screen, Roman Polanski’s political thiller, “The Ghost Writer” did very well for itself.

As for poor little “Avatar” it made only a measly $14 million estimated this week in the #4 spot. But do not cry for the Na’vi, it’s still on top in the international box office sweepstakes. Nor should you shed tears for Hollywood overall. As Nikki Finke points out, revenue is up, even if attendance is just a tad down.

http://www.bullz-eye.com/mguide/reviews_2009/avatar.htm

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Another Winter Olympics movie moment…with “Suspense”!

1946′s “Suspense” is, without a doubt, one of the weirdest classic-era Hollywood films ever made. It attempted to blend the appeal of  tough-as-nails post-war film noir thrillers with, yes, ice skating.

An Olympic skater for her native England at age 12, Belita “the Ice Maiden” (not sure how long that moniker lasted) had been best known in the movie world as a competitor to Norwegian Sonja Henie, the hugely well-paid skating star of a series of successful light musical comedies for Fox. Working with “Poverty Row” studio Monogram, Belita understandably wanted to get out from Henie’s shadow and become more of a dramatic actress. “Suspense” must have seemed like a natural transition: a fairly lavish crime drama with an ice-show setting…a noirish one. Here, Belita skates — suspensefully  — as Barry Sullivan and the great Eugene Pallette look on.

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A Winter Olympics movie moment

I’m having a hard time thinking of two many notable films involving Olympic level winter sports, but “Downhill Racer” definitely qualifies. It was a labor of love, albeit an extremely jaundiced one, for it’s ski-happy producer and star, Robert Redford, and features plenty of thrilling racing footage captured by first-time director Michael Ritchie. The first choice was avid skier Roman Polanski.

You can read my quick-take review of the Criterion DVD here.

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“Iron Man 2″ dans Monaco? Mais, oui!

Via Collider, we have this very nice French promo, with comments by Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, director Jon Favreau, and, of course, Robert Downey, Jr. Plus, it’s got another (subtitled) look at the pretty happening trailer for “Iron Man 2,” which is coming sooner than you think.

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Better late than never, it’s your Friday and weekend movie news dump

Since I took a day off earlier in the week, I’ve got probably enough material for fifteen separate blog posts, but just one will have to do…

* Since about Wednesday (my day off) items about the upcoming Superman film being presided over by Christopher Nolan have been rolling out. First Latino Review broke the news in Spanglish that writer David Goyer, who has been involved with Nolan’s Batman franchise from the start, would be on board. Now IESB (via Bad Guy Wins) reports what it says are rumors that  the director of the Superman film will be Christopher’s writing partner brother, Jonah, making his directorial debut.

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That seems reasonable enough especially given that Nolan’s going to be busy with the third instalment in his Batman franchise. I get a bit more skeptical about the idea that Nolan will be sticking around to direct the long-mulled Justice League movie which would presumably include the new Supes (whoever he may be; sorry Brandon Routh), the current Batman (just as long as no one gets into his eyeline), and Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern, but I suppose anything is possible.

* I could spend the next week trying to figure this one, but negative PR campaigns against Best Picture Oscar nominees have become de rigeur in recent years and the shrapnel is flying in more than one direction around “The Hurt Locker.” First there were stories from Pete Hammond and a typically voracious Nikki Finke about anti-”Avatar” e-mail blasts by producer Nicolas Chartier. Today there was a far more substantive front page news story in the Los Angeles Times on some disagreements among military people about the film’s putative claims to authenticity. The most serious allegation — which doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to being proven — charges that the crew drove a Humvee into a Jordanian village in order to film angry locals.

Though I think quite highly of Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a frequent guest on Rachel Maddow’s old radio show, I think his criticism is way off-base and was surprised to see him on the anti-”Hurt Locker” side. I don’t think anything in the film indicates that the dangerous-seeking behavior of Jeremy Renner’s character is supposed to be typical, but simply one person’s reaction to an insane situation. Still, it’ s easy to understand why some might kind of forget the movie, though attempting to mirror reality to some degree, makes no claims to being anything other than fiction.

Steve Pond covers the push-back by reporter-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal.

The Hurt Locker

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