Box Office Recap: It’s All the Same, Only the Names (from 3-10) have Changed

Last week, two new releases, “Madgascar 3” and “Prometheus,” occupied the top two spots on the domestic box office charts for the first time since April 22, when “Think Like a Man” and “The Lucky One” knocked out “The Hunger Games” after four weeks on top. This weekend, something else that hadn’t happened in some time occurred: the nation’s two highest grossing movies remained static. “Madgascar 3” and “Prometheus” remain cemented at the top of the charts with $35.5 million and $20.2 million, respectively. The last films to accomplish that feat: “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” over the last two weekends of 2011, Dec. 23-25 and Dec. 30-Jan. 1.

Hair metal musical “Rock of Ages” came in third place with $15 million. Now, I could make that sound like a lot by pointing out that’s the sixth best opening of all-time for a musical and the third highest for a film adapted from the stage. But let’s be frank here, given the film’s prime summer release date, huge release (it played in 74 more theaters than “Prometheus” did in its first week), and most importantly its star-studded cast, “Rock of Ages” was a supreme disappointment. Seriously, this is a film with names like Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Will Forte, Eli Roth and of course, Tom Cruise in its end credits. It should have made more money.

So what was the problem? Well, as I hypothesized in my Box Office Preview, nobody, and I mean nobody likes hair metal, the genre this film was banking on. Kids don’t like it, of that I can assure you, and baby boomers were the ones telling their children to turn that garbage down during the lost decade that was the 1980’s. As I said on Friday, the target audience here was the tiny sliver of the American population that was both a teenager during the 1980′s and enjoyed the crap at the top of the pop charts at the time.

All that showed in the demographics. For some reason, whoever keeps track of this stuff divides the entire population of the country into only two groups: above 25 and below 25. Nearly 75 percent of the audience for “Rock of Ages” was in the above category, and females made up 62 percent. Those numbers are staggeringly skewed.

Unsurprisingly, the demographics for the weekend’s other new release, Adam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy,” were distorted in the opposite direction. Sandler, of course, is known for his high-brow humor, stuff like “If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.” That’s sarcasm folks. Anyway, 52 percent of the comedy’s audience was under 25, and 54 percent was male. I know that doesn’t sound like much after what you just read, but in general, that’s not an insignificant skew towards teenage boys. “That’s My Boy” came in fifth place with $13 million.

The remainder of the chart offered few surprises. Sandwiched between the two new releases, “Snow White and the Huntsman” made $13.8 million, and “That’s My Boy” was followed by “Men in Black 3” and “The Avengers.”

Meanwhile, Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” continues to chug along at the specialty box office. With nearly $2.2 million, the film moved into ninth place this weekend despite being shown in just 178 theaters (compare that to Rock of Ages'” 3,470 and tenth place finisher “What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s” 1,216).

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. Madagascar 3, 2/4,263, Paramount/Dreamworks, $35.5 million, $120.451 million.
2. Prometheus, 2/3,442, Fox, $20.2 million, $88.858 million.
3. Rock of Ages, 1/3,470, Warner Bros., $15 million.
4. Snow White and the Huntsman, 3/3,701, Universal, $13.805 million, $122.602 million.
5. That’s My Boy, 1/3,030, Sony, $13 million.
6. Men in Black 3, 4/3,135, Sony, $10 million, $152.679 million.
7. The Avengers, 7/2,582, Disney/Marvel Studios, $8.848 million, $586.737 million.
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 7/1,184, Fox Searchlight, $2.2 million, $35.133 million.
9. Moonrise Kingdom, 4/178, Focus, $2.181 million, $6.779 million.
10.What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 5/1,216, $1.33 million, $38.766 million.

  

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Box Office Preview: ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘That’s My Boy’

Rock of Ages

OK, so “Rock of Ages” is an adaptation of a Broadway musical that uses hair metal the way “Across the Universe” used The Beatles. First problem: who the hell likes hair metal? It’s certainly not baby boomers or kids these days. The target audience seems to be the tiny sliver of the American population that was both a teenager during the 1980’s and enjoyed the crap, excuse me, music, at the top of the pop charts at the time. Maybe that’s a decent amount of people, but I sincerely hope not.

Anyway, on to the plot. Small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough), who’s presumably living in a lonely world, boards a midnight er, bus, going specifically to Los Angeles, which I suppose is close enough to “anywhere.” She’s mugged soon after arriving, but is saved by city boy Drew (origins unknown). Cue love story. Drew (Diego Boneta) is a busboy at Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand’s (character’s) nightclub, The Bourbon Room, but dreams of being a rock star (imagine that). The club is struggling, but its owner hopes Stacee Jaxx’s (Tom Cruise) final show before going solo will help spark revenues. That may just be the one upside in this movie, anyone who’s seen “Tropic Thunder” knows when Cruise gets a little self-deprecating it can earn major laughs. Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston), along with his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are launching a campaign to clean up the city, starting with The Bourbon Room. You disappoint me Bryan Cranston, but I doubt I’ll see this movie and “Breaking Bad” starts in a month, so my love for you shall survive.

Despite its star-studded cast and Cruise making an ass of himself, “Rock of Ages” is at a 44 percent on the Tomatometer, and Bullz-eye’s David Medsker had this to say:

If you look at “Rock of Ages” as a movie that knows it’s beyond salvation and is interested in finding out just far down the rabbit hole it can go, then it might earn some respect as the next cult classic in the making. Unfortunately, this is far closer to “The Apple” (look it up, if you dare) than it is to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” In the end, it’s just one of those movies that was never going to work. Pity no one realized this before they spent tens of millions to make it.

There you have it, if you’re a huge and I mean huge fan of musicals, hair metal, or any of the actors involved (Paul Giamatti’s in there too, somehow it never came up) then see this movie. But you’ve probably got better things to do.

That’s My Boy

So, it has come to this. Andy Samberg is Adam Sandler’s son, laughs ensue, or they would if this movie didn’t look so god awful. Also, is it just me or is the above picture a really bad photoshop job? Anyway, let’s just stick to the official synopsis:

While still in his teens, Donny (Adam Sandler) fathered a son, Todd (Andy Samberg), and raised him as a single parent up until Todd’s 18th birthday. Now, after not seeing each other for years, Todd’s world comes crashing down on the eve of his wedding when an uninvited Donny suddenly shows up. Trying desperately to reconnect with his son, Donny is now forced to deal with the repercussions of his bad parenting skills.

Specifically, Donny shows up because Todd is a hot shot hedge fund manager and he owes $43,000 to the IRS. He recieves this information from lawyer Jim Nance, played by Rex Ryan. That’s right, Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets. I love sexy Rexy but c’mon, what does a football coach with no acting experience getting a part tell you about this movie?

If you didn’t get it from a thousand other hints, it tells you that it sucks. “That’s My Boy” is at an abysmal 23 percent on the Tomatometer. The best line of a review I’ve read so far comes from Adam Graham of The Detroit News: “Sandler’s Berger is the most loutish, annoying character he’s come up with since ‘Little Nicky.’ Nicky came from hell; viewers of ‘That’s My Boy’ will feel like they’re in it.”

  

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Friday night movie news dump

Because I will it to be so…

* It’s getting mighty meta here. Via Anne Thompson, will show biz blogger/reporter Nikki Finke be in any position to sue HBO over their series about a presumably fictional entertainment blogger/reporter with a “no-holds-barred” attitude? asks THR, esq. She’s apparently already threatened to sue the Gawker. And here’s a quote for you:

So we were delighted when she acknowledged, fully aware that she would be quoted, that in our last off the record conversation she threatened to sue your blogger personally and Gawker corporately for “unfair business practices” related to our coverage of her. When we explained that the lawsuit threat was the reason we refused to speak off the record, she said, “How do you know I won’t? I’d love to own your house and your kids.”

Nikki Finke owning another blogger’s kids? Now there’s a Dickensian tale for you.

And that’s just the beginning of tonight’s useless blogging.

* Another superhero reboot. This time, it’s “Daredevil.” While writer David Scarpa’s resume doesn’t inspire great confidence, it shouldn’t be too hard to top the last attempt.

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* The Weinstein Company has picked up “The Tillman Story,” which is likely to be one of the year’s hotter documentaries.

* Sony has entered the bidding for the “The Terminator” franchise. Joss Whedon’s attempt at snapping up the franchise looking less likely every day. <Sigh>

* Speaking of Mr. Whedon, from time to time someone among his fans suggests some kind of fan donation and/or investment set-up to fund those ongoing “Buffy” or “Firefly” related projects they so crave. The idea is routinely shoot down as unrealistic. Kevin Smith works on a somewhat smaller canvas, but it’s interesting to see him apparently taking the idea seriously.

* James Cameron will presumably be betting against himself in Oscar pools.

* Many reasons to be slightly bummed that I decided not to take the SXSW plunge this year.

* One more Deadline|Hollywood item for the week from Mike “the sane one” Fleming. It’s about the movie moguls taking chances on less well-known directors (as if they aren’t always taking chances regardless, even if they’re trying not to), but all I can get my head around tonight is the idea of remaking “Damn Yankees” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jim Carrey. I’m not Carrey’s biggest fan, but that could actually work. As for the part of the lovable Satanic temptress, Lola, I’m sure there are many great possibilities, but there’s one actress whose proven she’s got the stuff for Fosse-esque choreography.

  

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Celluloid Heroes: Eight Musicals of the 21st Century

A funny thing happened this decade — the once dying genre of live-action movie musicals seems to have returned to the movie repertoire. As the decade closes, I can think of exactly two major westerns, but I keep remembering musicals that I should consider for this piece (including the mostly well-regarded French musical “Love Songs,” which I forgot to see before writing this, je suis désolé).

As a lifelong fan and a nearly lifelong tough critic of musicals, I love most of these films. However, this list is not so much a traditional “best of” and I’ve included one choice I definitely don’t like. (It won’t be hard to guess which.) These are musicals that I think contributed to the development of this polarizing and hard to pull off genre. They don’t hark back to times gone by or try to recapture a past glory that will never return, but actually take us into the future. That’s important now that musicals seem to have a future.

“Dancer in the Dark” (2000)

Earlier this year, the brilliant but often irritating Danish director Lars von Trier shocked hard-to-shock European festival audiences with graphic sexual violence in “Antichrist.” Back in 2000, all he needed to divide audiences was some really intense melodrama and an approach to making dark musicals partially borrowed from TV creator Dennis Potter (“Pennies from Heaven,” “The Singing Detective”).

Featuring a literally once-in-a-lifetime lead performance by singer-songwriter Björk as a young mother ready to sacrifice everything to save her son’s failing eyesight, “Dancer in the Dark” is maybe the most emotionally potent story of parental love I’ve ever seen. As a musical, it’s strange and arresting.

Like the Potter television shows and movies and “Chicago,” further down the list, the musical numbers take place in the mind of the lead character. In this case, however, it is particularly poignant as our heroine is a fan of musicals who, though she is gradually going blind, is attempting to appear in a community theater production of “The Sound of Music.” Below, she musically confesses her situation to a smitten Peter Stormare (yes, the guy from “Fargo”). Lumberjacks or not, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” sure seems like a long time ago.

Moulin Rouge” (2001)
As the non-musical Pixar films became the dominant template for animation and the musical form lost its last apparent movie bastion, big studios began to experiment with musicals starring humans. Unfortunately for me, the first and still one of the most popular of this decade’s high profile film musicals was Baz Luhrmann’s beautifully shot, amazingly designed, dull-witted, and over-edited “Moulin Rouge.”

Yes, this musical fan is not a fan of the musical that’s been credited with resurrecting the genre. Why? A couple of sequences work, but on the whole I expect the funny parts of a movie to make me laugh and, even more important, I like to see the movies I’m seeing. As far as I can tell, Luhrmann simply doesn’t have the confidence in this film to allow us time to view the arresting images he’s worked so hard to craft, nor does he permit time to actually see the hard work his dancers and actors put in. Editor Jil Bilcock is expected to do all the performing instead.

As for what Luhrmann and his arrangers did with the various classic songs they threw into a musical Cuisinart, the less I say about it the better. At the risk of sounding like a fogey (or a member of an 18th century Austrian court), too many notes. Way, way, way, too many notes. See if you disagree.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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