Box Office Recap: ‘Avengers’ Still On Top, ‘Battleship’ Disappoints


The Avengers’” weekend gross took another hit of nearly 50% this weekend, but that didn’t stop it from remaining the number one movie in America (and abroad, and on Betelgeuse as well, like as not). Despite the drop, the superhero flick still raked in over $55 million in its third week, bringing its global gross to $1.18 billion. Yes, billion with a “b.” In terms of cumulative gross, the film is now the fourth biggest movie of all time worldwide and the sixth biggest domestically. Furthermore, “The Avengers” swept past “The Hunger Games” to become the highest-grossing movie of 2012, and it showed no signs of slowing down. The only film to make more in its third weekend was “Avatar.” But while “Avatar” was able to stay at the top of the charts for seven consecutive weeks, “The Avengers” might just face its first real competition in “Men in Black III” next weekend. Heavy emphasis on the “might.”

Given its tremendous success, “The Avengers” isn’t leaving a whole lot of cash for its competitors. Coming in second place with $25.3 million was Universal Studios’ “Battleship.” That figure is especially disappointing for the film’s financiers given the $209 million it cost to produce. I for one am still having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of an alien and explosion-packed action movie based on a freaking board game, and apparently I’m not alone.

In third place was Sacha Baron Cohen’sThe Dictator.” The comedy was given a Wednesday release, taking in $24.5 million over five days with $17.4 million coming during the weekend itself. The film is Baron Cohen’s first fully-scripted picture, presumably because he is now too recognizable to dupe people in the fashion of “Borat” or “Da Ali G Show.”

“Dark Shadows,” the most recent collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, continued to underperform. The film took in $12.7 million in its second weekend, bringing its ten-day total to just under $51 million, another disappointing figure given its $150 million budget.

In fifth place with $10.5 million was the weekend’s last remaining new movie, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

Perhaps most surprising was the $3.25 million made by “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” despite playing in only 354 theaters nationwide. That’s a per-theater average of $18,258, which tops even “The Avengers'” $12,958.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume
1. The Avengers, 3/4,249, Disney/Marvel Studios, $55.1 million, $457.1
2. Battleship, 1/3,690, Universal/Hasbro, $25.3 million.
3. The Dictator, 1/3,008, Paramount, $17.4 million, $24.5 million.
4. Dark Shadows, 2/3,755, Warner Bros., $12.8 million, $50.9 million.
5. What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 1/3,021, $10.5 million.
6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 3/354, Fox Searchlight, $3.3 million, $8.2 million.
7. The Hunger Games, 9/2,064, Lionsgate, $3 million, $391.6 million.
8. Think Like a Man, 5/1,722, Sony, $2.7 million, $85.9 million.
9. The Lucky One, 5/2,839, Warner Bros., $1.8 million, $56.9 million.
10. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 4/1,840, Sony/Aardman, $1.5 million, $25.4 million.

  

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Box Office Preview: Board Games, Pregnancy, and something like ‘Borat’ 2


The Dictator

At this point if you don’t know what you’re getting walking into a Sacha Baron Cohen movie, you’ve probably never seen a Sacha Baron Cohen movie. That’s not to say “The Dictator” won’t be funny, but if you’re expecting 100 percent originality, you might want to look elsewhere.

“The Dictator” is the story of a North African, you guessed it, dictator, who’s called to answer for his crimes in front of the UN in New York. Believe it or not, it’s loosely based on a romance novel allegedly written by Saddam Hussein. Yeah, that Saddam Hussein, and yeah, romance. Anyway, when John C. Reilly strips him of his beard, nobody believes he’s a dictator anymore, so he has to find his way working in a food co-op with Anna Faris.

Fish out of water on the mean streets of America? Sounds an awful lot like “Borat,” but if it’s funny, who cares? I guess that raises the question, is “The Dictator” funny? The film is sitting at a 63 percent on the Tomatometer, so it’s probably more “Borat” (good) than “Bruno” bad. One thing the film has to set it apart from Baron Cohen’s previous work is that it’s not in his trademark interview-heavy mockumentary format. This probably means “The Dictator” sacrifices the more outrageous comedy that comes from duping public figures and nobodies alike for a semi-coherent plot.


Battleship

Now “Transformers” I get, theoretically anyway. There are characters, good guys and bad guys. It’s shit, but it makes sense, and more importantly it had Megan Fox. But a movie based on Battleship, the board game?

Apparently “Battleship” has a plot, but I’ll leave that explanation for Jason in his Bullz-Eye review. I imagine there are ships involved. Anyway, this movie looks like a turd. It’s at a 35 percent on the Tomatometer, and the consensus over there is that the film is “too loud, poorly written, and formulaic to justify its expense.” Jason’s viewpoint was a bit more optimistic:

But while the film does feel a little bit too much like a Michael Bay explosion-rama at times, to my surprise, it works remarkably well as a mindless piece of popcorn entertainment. It won’t wow you in any way, but “Battleship” knows that it’s big, dumb summer fun, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

If that’s the case, so be it. But I have a question, and I’m being completely serious here: what is the world of Hollywood writing coming to when we’re getting movies based on 70-year old board games? What’s next, the Monopoly man going on a Godzilla-like rampage through the streets of Tokyo? Terrorists knocking down buildings with a voodoo Jenga tower? Thank you Screencrush for the ideas, but sad as it may be “Battleship” is a real thing, so there’s no more time for mockery, moving on.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting

It’s a romantic comedy, so already we know what we’re getting into here, don’t we? There will be cliches, love, a second act rife with conflict, and ultimately, a happy ending. But every once in a while a movie comes along that breaks the mold, throwing all those banal stereotypes into a pot and coming out with something great. This is not that movie. Let me repeat again, because I know eyes can wander over a word or two: this is not that movie.

That fact is especially unfortunate when you look at the film’s star-studded cast, which includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911!”), Rodrigo Santoro (like 4 episodes of “Lost”), as well as the recent success of “Think Like a Man,” which was also based on a self-help book.

If I could guess, and I can, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” tells the story of a number of couples, each with their own relationship problems centering around pregnancy and child-rearing. It really doesn’t matter, this movie is at a 23 percent on the Tomatometer. As such, you should avoid it like the plague.

If you’re looking for a recommendation this weekend, I’ll say “The Avengers,” just like last week and the week before, and yes, even if you’ve already seen it. Now, last week I also recommended “Dark Shadows” to big Johnny Depp or Tim Burton fans. The same goes here, “The Dictator” is sure to be enjoyable for fans of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work.

  

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Will “Brüno” stimulate hot moviegoer-on-box office action? (Updated)

Okay, so a lot of things have changed in this country with regards to attitudes towards gays, but just how will America deal with the envelope-pushing antics of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest creation? “Brüno” has already offended a few in the gay community, but is also certain to be utterly avoided by America’s sadly larger homophobic community. As far as I’m concerned, just how this obviously risky material will fare is anyone’s guess, since from all accounts “Brüno” is no cuddly “Will and Grace” or “The Birdcage” and really puts its confrontational money where it’s transgressive mouth is, however comically presented. It’s R-rating has been deemed by Roger Ebert and many others as “very, very hard.”

Reviews are positive, more or less, but critics are somewhat divided. Ebert liked it a lot. Owen Glieberman awarded it a fairly rare A-. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, however, was less amused and trotted out a variation of the “queerface” meme some were concerned with a few weeks back. On the other hand, as I’ve discussed at my other blog home in another context, Lane’s statements are often, to be extremely easy on him, ill-informed. Joe Morgenstern, on the other hand, makes his point simply enough: he doesn’t think it’s funny, just kind of gross.

Hollywood Reporter box office prognosticator Carl DiOrio is fairly high on the film regardless, calling about $30 million or more for the Larry Charles directed stunt comedy. Pamela McClintock, his opposite number at Variety is saying it should debut in vicinity of Baron Cohen’s prior out of the box hit, “Borat,” at somewhere near $28.5 million. Apparently, the logic here is that Cohen’s now far greater fame will be canceled out by subject matter/content that some audience members who liked the earlier film may just want to avoid this time around. There’s obviously general agreement about the numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this one proved the prognosticators wrong either by making a lot less or a lot more money than expected.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Trailer Alert: “Bruno”

Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno” has been in the news a lot lately – from the sneak peek that was shown at this year’s SXSW festival to the recent announcement that the MPAA had slapped the film with an NC-17 rating – so it makes sense that Universal would want to release a trailer as soon as possible. The international red band trailer has just popped up online, and while I don’t think it looks as funny as “Borat,” I’m more than prepared to be proven wrong. Check it out below and let us know what you think.

  

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“Bruno” scenes screened at SXSW

A few hundred movie fans got a sneak peek at 22 minutes the upcoming Sacha Baron Cohen comedy “Bruno” at the South by Southwest film festival. Baron Cohen’s Bruno character is a “flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion correspondent hoping to make it big in Hollywood,” and he’s just as crazy and provocative as his now-famous Borat character.

In the first bit of footage, Bruno has decided to achieve celebrity by adopting a black baby, and wants to feature the child in an avant-garde performance art project. (“Ich bin pushing the limits,” he explains in broken German.) He interviews several mothers and fathers to determine whether their children would be suitable to play guest stars, and his questions grow increasingly absurd: Are they afraid of stuffed animals? Reptiles? Hornets? Would they be OK with being dropped off a four-story building, or willing to have liposuction? Regardless of the request, the parents categorically say “yes.”

Part two, which was shot just north of Dallas, finds Bruno appearing on a Jerry Springer-style talk show in leather pants, looking for Mr. Right. Members of the predominantly black studio audience are appalled by his in-your-face homosexuality, and they get even angrier when he brings out his adopted baby and shows them a self-consciously artsy photograph of the child posing as Jesus on a cross. Although it appears there are a few plants in the crowd to ask the right questions, the majority of them seem genuinely disgusted as they storm out.

Finally, Bruno decides to reinvent himself by going hetero and changing his name to “Straight Dave.” Dressed like Ted Nugent in camouflage, long hair and a scruffy beard, he stages a mixed-martial arts contest, which was shot last summer in Arkansas. When Bruno’s ex-boyfriend crawls into the ring and the two start making out, stripping and rubbing all over each other, spectators in the conservative crowd holler, make anti-gay slurs and throw plastic cups of beer at them. They end up storming out, too.

I think he has another smash hit on his hands.

  

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