“Avatar” tops a weekend of holiday box office bounty

If you’ve been following the horse-race over at Nikki Finke’s place, you’ll know it’s been a very long holiday weekend of box office ups and down. However, for those of us who can wait a day or two for the results, it’s actually somewhat simple.

Avatar movie image (3)

James Cameron‘s super-expensive 3-D extravaganza for Fox, “Avatar,” emerged as the victor of a three-way battle for the top prize with an outstanding second-weekend estimated take of $75 million and an absolutely minuscule drop from it’s first weekend of 2.6%, according to Box-Office Mojo. The Hollywood conventional wisdom has it that most science fiction films drop by at least 50% on their second weekend. Clearly, this is not most science fiction films and the fact that people are waiting to see this one in 3D and paying extra for the privilege is not hurting. So, as I’ve alluded to often enough, the word of mouth on this thing is something else. However, as always, I await the backlash as some folks plunk down their extra-heavy 3D ticket price and fail to have a religious experience.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson, or some version thereofSecond place, of course, was Guy Ritchie’s unorthodox action-comedy take on probably the oldest genre franchise in the biz, “Sherlock Holmes.” The Robert Downey, Jr./Jude Law team-up loosely drawn from the late 19th/early 20th century works of Arthur Conan Doyle defeated “Avatar” and all-comers on its record setting Christmas opening. It then fell a bit and earned a still whopping estimated $65.38 for Warner Brothers, a company that certainly has some experience with franchises. Better yet, this one is in the public domain, which means fewer folks get a share in the wealth.

Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” actually beat “Avatar” by a couple of million on its early opening day last Wednesday, but fell sharply on Christmas Eve and rebounded the rest of the weekend, for a very healthy estimated third place showing of $50.2 million. Critics may detest it; parents may barely tolerate it, but, to paraphrase the old blues song, the little kids understand (or don’t know any better). The film’s total estimated take starting from its early opening is just a tad over $77 million.

Considering it’s a Golden Globe-nominated sex comedy presumably aimed at a very grown-up audience — not only because of the average age of its stars but also because it’s R-rated, Universal’s “It’s Complicated” has generated the critical equivalent of a shrug, with our own David Medsker coming down on the very much negative side. That doesn’t bode extremely well for this sort of movie, which can use all the critical and awards help it can get.

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin in Still, this weekend’s rising tide managed to lift this boat to the tune of an estimated $22 million or so, which is really not bad for this kind of film. Or, it wouldn’t be because Nikki Finke claims the budget was $80 million, which is way high for this kind of movieĀ  and suggests to me that it’s possible stars Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin let their agents negotiate extra-hard for a big pay-day because they were perhaps less than wowed by the film artistically. Universal just doesn’t seem to be cutting itself any breaks lately.

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Kate Hudson sings “Cinema Italiano” + actual Italian cinema

Via Popbytes, The new trailer for “Nine

I gotta say, the first one isn’t all bad, but I like the second one better. The music is, very definitely, immensely better. But, then, when it comes to sheer arresting imagery and great movie melodies, just try and compete with Federico Fellini and Nino Rota.

  

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Shouldn’t it actually be “9 1/2”?

I guess 2009 is as good a year as any for a movie called “District 9” to be followed by one called “9” and another called “Nine.”

This is the film version of a Broadway musical based on the non-literally autobiographical quasi-surrealist 1963 sensation, “8 1/2,” so named because it’s writer-director, Federico Fellini, had made seven films and a featurette prior. Anyhow, this pretty marvelous new trailer has been circulating for about a day now and it’s time to feature it here.

Combining somewhat staged looking “behind the scenes” footage with clips from the movie, the idea here seems to be to reach out a bit both to putatively musical hating males with some of the most beautiful women in the world including Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman. Lest director Rob Marshall be seen as in any way sexist or ageist, we also have seventy-something Judy Dench showing she’s still got the stuff for musicals — she played the role of Sally Bowles in the original 1968 London production of “Cabaret” (though her Sally was closer to the original stories in that she wasn’t a great singer) — and none other than Sophia Loren, still glamorous as heck at 75 (she’s got just a few months on Dame Judi). No bubbi in my family every looked like that.

“Nine” kinda sorta fills up a hole in Ms. Loren’s resume as, rather amazingly, the world-wide superstar and reigning Italian screen queen of almost the entire fifties and sixties never worked with Fellini, her nation’s most influential and arguably greatest director of the same period, though she did present him with his honorary Oscar in 1993.

Anyhow, my nominee for possibly the sexiest trailer of the year or maybe this entire, rapidly ending, decade…

H/t Culture Monster. If you missed the earlier trailer for “Nine,” see it here.

  

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