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: In its Third Week, New Releases Still Can’t Top ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

In its third week in release, “The Dark Knight Rises” is once again the nation’s number one movie after grossing nearly $36 million. On Sunday, its 17th day at the box office, the film’s total domestic gross passed the $350 million mark, making it the third fastest movie to reach that plateau, behind only “The Avengers” (10 days) and “The Dark Knight” (14 days).

The weekend’s two new releases, “Total Recall” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” struggled, grossing only $25.5 and $14.6 million, respectively. The two films’ audiences skewed in opposite directions, with “Total Recall” tracking 58 percent male and 53 percent 30 years of age or older. Moviegoers gave the film a woeful “C+” CinemaScore. On the other hand, “Wimpy Kid” skewed 58 percent female and 62 percent 25 or younger, while receiving an “A-” CinemaScore. However, the movie’s $14.6 million debut was far behind the series previous installments, which grossed $22.1 million and $23.8 million, respectively.

The box office charts remained remarkably static behind the new releases and “The Dark Knight.” Last week’s second through eighth place films each moved back two spots to make room for “Total Recall” and “Wimpy Kid,” but remained in the same order to fill out this week’s fourth through tenth place positions.

“The Dark Knight Rises” faces a new challenger in “The Bourne Legacy” next week. We’ll just have to see if it can sustain its dominance against another big name franchise in its fourth 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. The Dark Knight Rises, 2/4,242, Warner Bros., $35.737 million, $359.935 million.
2. Total Recall, 1/3,601, Sony, $25.577 million.
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, 1/3,391, Fox, $14.623 million.
4. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 4/3,542, Fox, $8.609 million, $132.071 million.
5. The Watch, 2/3,168, Fox, $6.527 million, $25.541 million.
6. Step Up Revolution, 2/2,606, Summit, $5.927 million, $23.724 million.
7. Ted, 6/2,767 Universal, $5.644 million, $203.579 million.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man, 5/2,425, Sony, $4.4 million, $250.74 million.
9. Brave, 7/2,110, Buena Vista, $2.986 million, $223.42 million.
10. Magic Mike, 6/1,202, Warner Bros., $1.414 million, $110.928 million.

 

  

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Box Office Recap: The Dark Knight Rises… to Number One

Studios released box office figures a day late this week out of respect for the victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Many writers who should be talking about movies have been talking about the tragedy instead. I won’t do that, because the last thing that event needs is more punditry, and the deaths of 12 people should not be made into a political issue. So let’s talk about movies.

Top on the list of things nobody has ever said, ever: “‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ the last entry in Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman reboot trilogy, will not be the weekend’s number one movie.” Seriously, that was a foregone conclusion as soon as the Joker completed his bank heist in “The Dark Knight.” Rather the question was how much exactly the movie would make, and whether or not it would top the competition for the best opening of the year and the best ever opening by a superhero film. In this instance, of course, the two are one and the same. “The Avengers,” and its $207 million opening weekend, hold both honors, and in fact, the highest opening of all time as well, forget about costumed heroes.

After this weekend, that’s still the case. But come on folks, not beating out the best opening weekend of all time isn’t exactly a slight. “The Dark Knight Rises” held its own with just under $161 million in its first three days. That might not be enough to beat out “The Avengers” but it is third best opening of all time. The only other film (besides “The Avengers”) to gross more domestically in in its opening weekend was “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two,” which raked in $169 million last summer.

Things were tough for the films living in the shadow of “The Dark Knight Rises” this weekend. The weekend’s top ten films had dropoffs ranging from 46 percent (“Brave“) to 68.6 percent (“The Amazing Spider-Man“). Clearly, Spidey had a hard time keeping up with a new (and better) superhero flick entering the arena. “The Dark Knight Rises” alone actually grossed $100 million more than the second through tenth place films combined ($60.5 million).

As a result of Nolan and co. sucking up all that revenue, the charts were once again extraordinarily static. Last week’s first through fourth place films (“Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Ted,” “Brave”) each took a step back but remained in the same order. “Magic Mike” scooted past “Savages” (which fell from fifth to seventh) to  remain in sixth place, while “Katy Perry: Part of Me’s” drop out of the Top 10 allowed “To Rome with Love” to come back into tenth, “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection” to take just one step back into eighth, and “Moonrise Kingdom” to stay entrenched in the ninth position.

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 Dark Knight Rises, 1/4,404, Warner Bros., $160.887 million.
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 2/3,886, Fox, $20.416 million, $88.84 million.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man, 3/3,753, Sony, $10.887 million, $228.611 million.
4. Ted, 4/3,214 Universal, $10.011 million, $180.431 million.
5. Brave, 5/2,899, Buena Vista, $6.024 million, $208.774 million.
6. Magic Mike, 4/2,606, Warner Bros., $4.291 million, $101.966 million.
7. Savages, 3/2,336, Universal, $3.398 million, $40.055 million.
8. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection, 4/1,540, LGF, $2.253 million, $55.611 million.
9. Moonrise Kingdom, 9/895, Focus, $1.831 million, $36.087 million.
10. To Rome with Love, 5/552, SPC, $1.42 million, $11.107 million.

 

  

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Box Office Recap: “Spider-Man” on the top of the charts… For the Seventh Time in the past Decade

Yes, you read the title right. For the seventh time in the past decade (well, ten years and two months), a Spider-Man film is on the top of the weekend domestic box office charts. Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” stayed at number one for two weeks in 2002, and its sequels did the same in 2004 and 2007, respectively. Now, here in 2012, director Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” is on top once again after making $65 million this weekend and $140 million over the course of its six-day opening.

“Spider-Man’s” $65 million debut weekend is the fifth largest opening of the year, behind only “The Avengers” ($207 million), “The Hunger Games” ($155 million), “The Lorax” ($70 million), and “Brave” ($66 million). But “Spidey’s” $140 million did allow it to beat out the six-day gross of some other recent comic book reboots, namely “Batman Begins” and “X-Men: First Class,” which made $79.5 million and $69.9 million over their first six days, respectively.

However, perhaps the best way to judge “The Amazing Spider-Man’s” success is to compare it to that of Sam Raimi’s trilogy. The reboot found itself right behind the first “Spider-Man’s” six day total of $144.2 million. However, “Spider-Man 2” grossed $180.1 million and “Spider-Man 3” $176.2 million, meaning the newest film actually made the least of any “Spidey” movie to date. And while “The Amazing Spider-Man” beat out “Batman Begins” in terms of gross, Christopher Nolan’s film had the best six-day start of any Batman film at the time. Of course, “The Dark Knight” later upped the ante.

After breaking “The Hangover’s” record for best debut by an original R-rated comedy (i.e. not counting “The Hangover Part II“) last weekend,  Seth McFarlane’s “Ted,” remained strong, grossing $32.6 million in its second weekend. For comparison’s sake, “The Hangover” made just under $32.8 million in its second weekend, and “Ted’s” ten-day total of $120.2 million bests “The Hangover” over the same period.

In its third weekend, “Brave” remained in third place with $20.162 million. The Pixar flick has now grossed $174.5 million to date, which means it’s all but assured to be the studio’s tenth movie to accumulate $200 million.

Oliver Stone’s “Savages” came in fourth place with $16 million in its opening weekend, which isn’t all that bad considering its competition. Behind it, “Magic Mike,” “Madea’s Witness Protection,” and “Madagascar 3” slid into the fifth, sixth, and seventh spots with $15.6, $10.1, and $7.5 million, respectively.

The weekend’s soft release was “Katy Perry: Part of Me,” which came in eighth place with $7.1 million. In ninth and tenth place we saw a couple strong showings from films teetering on the edge of the “specialty box office” label. Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” grossed $4.5 million from 884 theaters, while in its third week Woody Allen’s “To Rome with Love” added 777 theaters, giving it a total of 806 and making $3.5 million.

Overall, it was a strong weekend at the box office. The nation’s top 12 films grossed $187.1 million, a 28 percent bump from this time last year.

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 Amazing Spider-Man, 1/4,318, Sony, $65 million, $140 million.
2. Ted, 2/3,256, Universal, $32.593 million, $120.24 million.
3. Brave, 3/3,891, Buena Vista, $20.162 million, $174.519 million.
4. Savages, 1/2,628, Universal, $16.162 million.
5. Magic Mike, 2/3,120, Warner Bros., $15.61 million, $72.797 million.
6. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection, 2/2,161, $10.2 million, $45.846 million.
7. Madagascar 3, 5/2,861, Paramount/Dreamworks, $7.7 million, $196.02 million.
8. Katy Perry: Part of Me, 1/3,730, Paramount, $7.15 million.
9. Moonrise Kingdom, 7/884, Focus, $4.642 million, $26.893 million.
10. To Rome with Love, 3/806, SPC, $3.502 million, $5.621 million.

  

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Box Office Recap: Ted on Top, Numbers Surge Across the Board

Things are looking bright in Hollywood, and not just because of pre-holiday fireworks displays. Seth McFarlane’s “Ted” is sitting pretty on the top of the charts after grossing $54.1 million, which makes it the biggest weekend ever for an R-rated original comedy (it beat out “The Hangover’s” $44.98 million debut) as well as the eighth best R-rated debut ever. The film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and McFarlane himself, is the “Family Guy” creator’s first foray into feature films (how ’bout that for for alliteration?), and its success has many wondering why it took studios so long to give McFarlane a chance at the helm of a Hollywood project.

But “Ted” wasn’t the only triumph at the box office, as numbers surged across the board. The weekend’s top 12 films raked in a combined total of approximately $197 million, the highest weekend total ever in the month of June.

So how do we account for all this success? Well, two other new releases, Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper dramedy “Magic Mike” and Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Witness Protection” had some relatively massive openings of their own, exceeding expectations and coming in second and fourth place with $39 million and $25 million, respectively.

It shouldn’t be discounted that a good portion of the summer’s blockbusters have targeted younger audiences. Just look this weekend’s third and fifth place finishers, “Brave” and “Madagascar 3,” each debuted at number one. But after animated films have ruled the box office for three straight weeks, the simultaneously successful releases of the R-rated “Ted” and “Magic Mike” serve as a good reminder that adults go to the movies too, and not just to sit in the AC and keep the damn kids quiet for 90 minutes.

I’m pleased to say “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” endured a larger than usual 63 percent slide this weekend, falling to sixth place and grossing just $6 million. The film’s now grossed a cumulative total of $29 million, and likely won’t make it past the $40 million mark, well below its budget of $69 million. Hopefully, studios will learn to leave our great historical figures alone from now on, unless Daniel Day-Lewis is playing them (“Lincoln” is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2012), or at the very least to leave vampires out of the picture.

Meanwhile, Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” came back into view after falling out of the top ten last weekend. The film finally saw a nationwide release, adding another 459 theaters, giving it a total of 854, and came in seventh place with just under $5 million.

The weekend’s soft release was “People Like Us,” a drama starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. Early estimates had the film in tenth place, but more recent reports show it falling into eleventh. “The Avengers” took its place, moving up to round out the top ten. It’s likely to be the last time we’ll see those particular superheros there, but comic book fans need not fear. Peter Parker’s being rebooted, “The Amazing Spider-Man” comes out on July 3.

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. Ted, 1/3,239, Universal, $54.1 million.
2. Magic Mike, 1/2,930, Warner Bros., $39.155 million.
3. Brave, 2/4,164, Buena Vista, $34.011 million, $131.685 million.
4. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection, 1/2,161, $26.35 million.
5. Madagascar 3, 4/3,715, Paramount/Dreamworks, $11.815 million, $180.012 million.
6. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, 2/3,109, $6 million, $29.034 million.
7. Moonrise Kingdom, 6/854, Focus, $4.926 million, $18.406 million.
8. Prometheus, 4/1,951, Fox, $4.921 million, $118.262 million.
9. Snow White and the Huntsman, 5/2,337, Universal, $4.498 million, $145.591 million.
10. The Avengers, 9/1,757, Disney/Marvel Studios, $4.421 million, $606.505 million.

  

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