Box Office Preview: ‘Bourne’ (sans Damon), ‘The Campaign,’ and ‘Hope Springs’

The Bourne Legacy

After the first three “Bourne” movies grossed a combined $945 million worldwide, Universal Studios wasn’t going to let something as “petty” as the series’ star, Matt Damon, walking away stop the cash from flowing in. Even though “The Bourne Legacy” will likely break an impressive pattern—that each of the trilogy’s installments was more successful than the last in terms of both opening and cumulative grosses (“The Bourne Identity” debuted to $27.1 million and had a domestic total gross of nearly $122 million, “Supremacy” made $52.5 million in its opening weekend, winding up with $176 million, while “Ultimatum” opened to $69.3 million and had $227 million to its name when things were all said and done)—the studio can still expect to make a pretty penny. Plus, given that “The Dark Knight Rises” was last week’s top earner with just shy of $36 million in its third week, Universal can expect to own the nation’s number one movie, as “Legacy” will have no problem clearing $30 million over its first three days at the box office.

Anyway, let’s talk about the film itself, shall we? With Damon gone, writer/director Tony Gilroy, who also wrote the screenplays for the first three “Bourne” movies, had to come up with some way to introduce a new main character. As we find out from the trailer, “There was never just one… Jason Bourne was the tip of the iceberg.” Enter Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker,” “The Avengers“) as Aaron Cross, who’s essentially another Jason Bourne.

Overlapping with the ending of the last film, the story has broken that the CIA has been conducting top-secret experiments involving genetically enhanced spies. As a result, they’re putting an end to all such programs, which means killing all of the various programs’ agents. With the exception of the new leading man, “Legacy” has everything we’ve come to expect from the series: a super spy on the run from the government with a damsel in distress in tow. Only this time, Renner’s playing the hero, the damsel has a doctorate, and newcomer Edward Norton steps in as Colonel Eric Byer, who’s in charge of hunting Renner’s character down. It seems he’s escaped the government’s attempt on his life and needs to find Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) so he can get a hold of the medications that help him function at superhuman levels.

The film has split critics right down the middle, it currently sits at a 50 percent on the Tomatometer. It’s sure to be entertaining, but like so many of the reboot/sequel/spin-offs coming along these days, it leaves something to be desired because you can’t escape the feeling that you’ve seen this film before. I think Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker put it best:

“The Bourne Legacy” shares a sentiment with a couple of other movies released this year (“American Reunion,” “Men in Black 3” [and I’ll add “The Amazing Spider-Man” to the list]) in that it was not at all necessary, yet still enjoyable. That might be damning the movie with faint praise, but considering the lengths that Universal is going to in order to keep the Bourne cash cow mooing – really, everything about the movie’s existence is pretty damn cynical – they would be wise to take any praise people are willing to give them. They get a pass this time, but they’re going to need to raise the stakes for the next one.

The Campaign

From director Jay Roach (best known for directing the “Austin Powers” films as well as “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers”) comes “The Campaign,” a satirical political comedy boasting big name stars like Will Ferrell, Zach Galfianakis, Jason Sudeikis, John Lithgow, and Dan Akroyd. With actors like that and a premise as easily mockable as American politics, this one’s sure to be a slam dunk, right?

Not this time. Although it’s got a 65 percent rating on the Tomatometer, the general consensus seems to be that the film is one big missed opportunity. In an election year, the filmmakers could’ve gotten a bit edgier, really putting our political system on trial while still generating big laughs from Ferrell and Galifianakis. In fact, one might wonder why this wasn’t the case, given that Roach has pushed some boundaries in his HBO election dramas “The Recount” and “Game Change.” To quote Bullz-Eye’s Jason Zingale:

Though the film is actually much better than expected, it never fully takes advantage of its satirical premise, especially with the 2012 elections only months away. There are a number of good laughs sprinkled throughout, but it’s not nearly enough to warrant sitting through all the dry spells. And try as director Jay Roach might to make his characters more absurd than our real-life politicians, that’s a lot easier said than done.

Oh yes, you’re probably wondering about the plot. Here it is: Incumbent North Carolina Congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) is essentially running on auto-pilot until a sex scandal puts his campaign under a microscope. As a result, two corrupt businessmen played by Lithgow and Akroyd, the Motch brothers (whose similarities with the real-life Koch brothers are no coincidence) decide to back country bumpkin Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) who will turn a blind eye to their plan to use import Chinese factory workers on the cheap.

Hope Springs

Last but not least this week is “Hope Springs,” a dramedy that is sure to skew older than the previous two films. It stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple who despite being loving and devoted have watched as their relationship gets somewhat stale over the decades. Streep’s character, Kay, hears of Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), a widely renowned relationship specialist and tries to persuade her husband, Arnold, to embark on a trip to the small town of Hope Springs to meet him.

The film has been certified fresh with a 77 percent rating on the Tomatometer. The site had this to say about the film: “Led by a pair of mesmerizing performances from Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs offers filmgoers some grown-up laughs — and a thoughtful look at mature relationships.” Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker offers a different perspective: “How much you enjoy ‘Hope Springs’ will depend largely on how much you enjoy watching older people have sex.” It’s pretty easy to figure out whether you’re part of “Hope Springs” target audience, and as a result, whether or not you’ll enjoy the film.

  

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Box Office Recap: Pixar ‘Braves’ its way to the top yet again

Nearly every review of Pixar’s “Brave” has been quick to point out that while the film is decent, it does not uphold the impossibly high standards the studio has set for itself. Indeed, ‘Brave” is one of just three Pixar films to earn a score of less than 90 percent on the Tomatometer. The picture currently stands at 74 percent. “Cars” earned the same rating while its sequel garnered an abysmal 38 percent.

That said, “Brave” had no trouble in the money making department, grossing $66.7 million in its opening weekend. That makes it Pixar’s fifth-best debut and perhaps more importantly, the number one movie in America.

But unfortunately for Fox Studios and Focus Features, the weekend’s other new releases didn’t fare nearly as well. The former’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” came in third with $16.5 million, which in this blogger’s humble opinion is $16.5 million too much, while the latter’s “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” found itself at the end of the charts, coming in tenth place with just $3.8 million. The indie production’s numbers are especially disappointing given its two big name stars in Steve Carell and Keira Knightley and the fact that it just barely beat out Focus’s other current release, Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom,” despite playing in 1,230 more theaters.

In between the two and ten spots, things remained largely static. “Prometheus” and “Rock of Ages” slid from last week’s second and third spots into fourth and fifth, respectively. Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi grossed $10 million, while the troubled hair metal musical took in $8 million.

Among the weekend charts’ two fluctuations was the genre-mashing (or rather clashing) “Snow White and the Huntsman” hopping over “That’s my Boy,” which is in only its second week. “Snow White” slid back one spot into sixth place with $8 million, but inched past the Adam Sandler comedy by a mere $100,000. Likewise, “Men in Black 3,” which stands at ninth on the charts with $5.6 million, fell behind “The Avengers” for the first time since its release. The superhero flick came in the eighth after grossing $7 million.

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. Brave, 1/4,164, Buena Vista, $66.739 million.
2. Madagascar 3, 3/3,920, Paramount/Dreamworks, $20.2 million, $157.572 million.
3. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, 1/3,108, $16.5 million.
4. Prometheus, 3/2,862, Fox, $10 million, $108.547 million.
5. Rock of Ages, 2/3,470, Warner Bros., $8 million, $28.763 million.
6. Snow White and the Huntsman, 4/2,919, Universal, $8 million, $137.1 million.
7. That’s My Boy, 5/3,030, Sony, $7.9 million, $28.18 million.
8. The Avengers, 8/2,230, Disney/Marvel Studios, $7.04 million, $598.3million.
9. Men in Black 3, 5/2,462, Sony, $5.6 million, $163.339 million.
10. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, 1/1,625, Focus, $3.836 million.

  

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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 Recap: New Releases Take the Cake

For the first time since April 22, two new releases occupy the top two spots on the weekend box office charts. That weekend, “Think Like a Man” and “The Lucky One” knocked out “The Hunger Games” after four weeks on top. This time around, “Madagascar 3” and “Prometheus” sank “Snow White and the Huntsman” to number three in just its second week.

There’s been an absence of family features of late, and it showed in “Madagascar’s” strong $60.35 million showing, which is the fourth-highest opening of the year. The film just missed the $63.1 million the second film in the series made in its opening weekend, but remained in line with the first “Madgascar’s” $61 million over a long Memorial Day weekend in 2005.

The audience for “Madagascar 3” was mostly young (54 percent under 25) and female (56 percent), which makes sense considering its top competition, “Prometheus.” Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi made $50 million with the exact opposite demographics. Sixty-four percent of its audience was over 25, and 57 percent was male. Although “Prometheus” didn’t quite reach the massive levels some predicted, it still had the fourth-highest second place debut in history.

The new releases got some help from the continued slippage of “Men in Black 3” and “The Avengers,” which now sit at numbers four and five, respectively. Although “slippage” for those two pictures would be considered strong weekends for most other films, as they each cleared the $10 million mark with ease. Worldwide, the two films’ numbers are staggering. “Men in Black 3” is just $12.5 million short of half a billion in total gross after three weeks, while “Avengers” cleared $1.4 billion in its sixth weekend.

Behind them, “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” remained cemented in the six and seven spots. “Battleship” and “The Dictator” tumbled from numbers four and five last weekend to the eight and nine slots. Perhaps the most notable part of that development is “Battleship’s” steep drop in theater count. After being show in 3,144 locations last weekend, the film was on nearly 1,200 fewer screens.

Finally, in tenth place was Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom.” The film took in nearly $1.6 million despite playing in only 96 theaters, giving it a weekend-best $16,448 per-theater average. The film has now earned $3.8 million after showing in 16 theaters last weekend and just two during its debut.

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, 1/4,258, Paramount/Dreamworks, $60.35 million.
2. Prometheus, 1/3,396, Fox, $50 million.
3. Snow White and the Huntsman, 2/3,777, Universal, $23.021 million, $98.5 million.
4. Men in Black 3, 3/3,792, Sony, $13.5 million, $135.505 million.
5. The Avengers, 6/3,129, Disney/Marvel Studios, $10.809 million, $571.86 million.
6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 6/1,298, Fox Searchlight, $3.235 million, $31.009 million.
7.What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 4/2,087, $2.71 million, $35.745 million
8. Battleship, 4/1,954, Universal/Hasbro, $2.286 million, $59.83 million.
9. The Dictator, 4/1,651, Paramount, $2.15 million, $55.189 million.
10. Moonrise Kingdom, 3/96, Focus, $1.579 million, 3.75 million.

  

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Box Office Recap: ‘Snow White’ Crowned Queen of the Box Office

Universal Pictures has needed a win for a while now. Following the disappointing flops of “Battleship” and “The Five-Year Engagement,” the studio had a lot riding on its newest release, “Snow White and the Huntsman,” especially considering the film’s $170 million production costs.

Luckily for Universal, “Snow White” grabbed a better-than-expected $56 million in its first weekend, placing it on top of the domestic box office charts. The film’s success was a great surprise given the multitude of concerns surrounding it. Many worried it would only pique the interest of young females, but with such a high budget the film could hardly afford to attract such skewed demographics.

In the end, such concerns seem unfounded as 52 percent of the audience was over 30 and a relatively low 53 percent was female. Similar fears about the film’s ability to compete with well-established franchises were likewise assuaged. Despite being director Rupert Sanders’ first feature film and its non-sequel status, “Snow White” made more than “Men in Black 3” did in its first week. But every time you get to thinking Hollywood’s fascination with the idea that sequels are sure bets might be over you read information like this: a sequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman” is alreadyin active development.

The domestic box office remained largely static behind the number one spot as “Men in Black 3,” “The Avengers,” “Battleship,” and “The Dictator” each took a step back but remained in the same order. The $29.3 million made by “Men in Black 3” this weekend seems particularly strong when it’s considered that its 10-day total of $112.3 million is only slightly behind the $115.6 million “Men in Black 2” made over the same period.

Meanwhile, there was some shuffling around behind the top five, as “Chernobyl Diaries” fell to the ninth spot while “Dark Shadows” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” which were in sixth and eighth place last weekend, respectively, switched positions. The feel-good “Hotel” has risen every week as it appears in more and more theaters.

At the specialty box office, Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” had continued success in it second week. The film grossed $848,681 despite being shown in just 16 theaters, giving it an impressive per-location average of $53,043 and raising its cumulative domestic gross to $1.7 million.

Lastly, “The Hunger Games” finally slipped out of the top 10 in its eleventh week. The film took in $1.5 million, placing it just behind the $1.8 million made by “For Greater Glory” in its first week.

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. Snow White and the Huntsman, 1/3,773, Universal, $56.255 million.
2. Men in Black 3, 2/4,248, Sony, $29,3 million, $112.3 million.
3. The Avengers, 5/3,670, Disney/Marvel Studios, $20.273 million, $552.737 million.
4. Battleship, 3/3,144, Universal/Hasbro, $4.81 million, $55.123 million.
5. The Dictator, 3/2,649, Paramount, $4.725 million, $50.835 million.
6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 5/1,294, Fox Searchlight, $4.6 million, $25.497 million.
7.What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 3/2,907, $4.43 million, $30.723 million
8. Dark Shadows, 4/3,002, Warner Bros., $3.86 million, $70.834 million.
9. Chernobyl Diaries, 2/2,433, Warner Bros., $3.045 million, 14.416.
10. For Greater Glory, 1/757, Arc Entertainment, $1.8 million.

  

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