Box Office Recap: New Releases Take Down ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

After three weeks at the top of the charts, “The Dark Knight Rises” fell to third place with just under $19 million after being beaten by two new releases this weekend. In its opening weekend, “The Bourne Legacy” grossed just over $38 million domestically. That figure is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Sure, “The Dark Knight Rises” made nearly that amount ($35.737 million) last week, but then we’re talking about the movie that had the third biggest opening weekend of all-time with nearly $161 million.

As I predicted in my Box Office Preview, “The Bourne Legacy” did break the pattern of each “Bourne” film being more successful than the last. But that’s to be expected in a third sequel, or is it a spin-off/reboot? I really don’t know what to call this thing. What I do know is that despite sticking Jeremy Renner in Matt Damon’s place, “Legacy’s” $38.1 million debut fell in between the series’ first film, “The Bourne Identity” ($27.1 million), and the second, “Supremacy” ($52.5 million), and dropped 45 percent off “Ultimatum” ($69.2 million), the last entry with Damon in the lead.

In second place with $26.588 million was the new political comedy “The Campaign,” which starred Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Although it’s not exactly a terrifically common genre, that is the highest opening mark for a movie centered around a political campaign according to Box Office Mojo.

The weekend’s final new release, “Hope Springs,” opened in fourth place with $14.65 million. The film, which stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, is definitely targeting an older audience than most, so while it won’t have any flashy single weekend numbers, I expect it to slowly chug along in much the same way “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” did.

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 Bourne Legacy, 1/3,745, Universal, $38.142 million.
2. The Campaign, 1/3,205, Warner Bros., $26.588 million.
3. The Dark Knight Rises, 4/3,690, Warner Bros., $18.979 million, $389.588 million.
4. Hope Springs, 1/2,361, Sony, $14.65 million.
5. Total Recall, 2/3,601, Sony, $8.013 million, $44.101 million.
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, 2/3,398, Fox, $8.002 million, $30.356 million.
7. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 5/3,102, Fox, $6.38 million, $143.694 million.
8. Ted, 7/2,208, Universal, $3.223 million, $209.848 million.
9. Step Up Revolution, 3/1,898, Summit, $2.941 million, $30.256 million.
10. The Watch, 3/2,461, Fox, $2.221 million, $31.396 million.

  

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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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Fat Tuesday at the movies

Do the bon temps actually roulez in Hollywood? It’s more like they just kind of unspool.

* My good friend, Zayne Reeves, was kind enough to make sure I didn’t miss this rather extraordinary Esquire piece by Chris Jones on Roger Ebert’s current life. I’ve been spending my share of time around illness myself over the last several weeks and I can’t think of a more quietly, beautifully sane way of dealing with the strange cards life can deal us. Though I’m just one among very, very many he’s shared kind words with, I’ve always felt lucky for the very brief e-mail correspondences I’ve had with Roger over the years, Now I feel luckier.

* Reviews of the fourth Martin Scorsese film to star Leonardo DiCaprio, “Shutter Island,” are starting to trickle out. Glenn Kenny has a good one. “Good” both as in “positive” and also as in “worth your time reading.”

shutter-island-2010-wallpaper

* Doug Liman will be directing a film about the 1971 Attica prison riot/revolt/uprising, now best remembered by film lovers as the chant from “Dog Day Afternoon.” It’s a story he has a personal connection with through his late father, attorney Arthur Liman. Nevertheless, the director of “Go,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “The Bourne Identity” seems to be moving in a sort of John Frankenheimer-esque direction overall, too.

* Speaking of the man who yelled “Attica! Attica!,” Al Pacino has stepped into a part recently vacated by Robert De Niro. You just can’t seem to keep those two guys apart for very long.

* Nikki Finke is having a very fat Tuesday indeed. Earlier today she reported on Carl Icahn trying to snap up Lionsgate for himself and a deal between Warner Brothers and video kiosk powerhouse Redbox, not to mention the news that the Oscars this year may not be including the original artists in the Best Song category.

There’s still more; a 3-D movie based on Erector Sets. Sure, why not. Next up: “Slinky 3-D,” I’m sure. Now, if they really want to get a rise out of the family audience, they might consider adopting Mickey Spillane’s novel, The Erection Set. From the description I just linked to, it would really be something in three-dimensions.

* Writer-director Paul Feig is reteaming with his old “Freaks and Geeks” colleague, Judd Apatow, for a film starring and cowritten by Dave Medsker’s-ultra-fave, Kristen Wiig writes Borys Kit. Let’s hope it’s better than a typical SNL skit these days.

* I started with Roger Ebert and I’ll end with an item via his must-read Twitter-feed: the Film Preservation Blogathon being organized by my old Chicago-based cinephile blogging mate, Marilyn Ferdinand. If you care about movies, this is the place. It’s also a fundraiser (a first for a blogathon, as far as I can remember) so if the idea of losing a film — any film — forever bugs you as it should, considering donating. You can do worse than starting with this post by Ferdy’s partner in good works, the Self-Styled Siren aka Farran Nehme. And, courtesy of another cinephile colleague from the days when I had time to blog about old movies all the live-long day, Greg Ferrera, we conclude with….a commercial.

  

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“Flipper” discs debut with The Bourne Trilogy

One of the problems that people have with the adoption of a new format (most recently, Blu-ray) is that the format in question isn’t universal, sometimes even within a single household. For example, a family might have a Blu-ray player in the living room, but still have DVD players elsewhere in the house (or in the minivan). Universal Studios Home Entertainment has addressed this problem by releasing dual-format discs that have a Blu-ray version of the movie on one side and a DVD version on the other, allowing consumers to use the disc anywhere they can play Blu-ray or DVD. Consumers that haven’t yet adopted the Blu-ray format can buy these discs knowing that their collection will be ready when they eventually do. It’s an ingenious idea for those in the process of switching over to Blu-ray.

The so-called “flipper” discs debut with the Jason Bourne series: “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” and (the not available for review) “The Bourne Ultimatum.” [Read the Bullz-Eye review of the trilogy.]

This should go without saying, but the picture quality of the Blu-ray version is unparalleled. When watched in 1080p, the films look about as good as they can possibly look, at least at this point in time. For example, in one of the Zurich scenes in “The Bourne Identity,” little details like falling snow really jump out.

“The Bourne Identity” features a load of special features, including U-Control (allowing the viewer to examine character dossiers, location analyses and spy gadgets while watching the movie), a Bourne card strategy game, BD-Live (allowing BR and PS3 users chat with friends and family while watching the film), deleted and extended scenes, an alternate opening and ending, along with a series of featurettes: “The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum,” an interview with Tony Gilroy about the challenges of adapting Ludlum’s book for the silver screen, interviews with Matt Damon and Franka Potente, an interview with a UCLA psychologist about the Bourne’s amnesia, an interview with CIA liaison officer Chase Brandon about the real-world making of a super spy, a look into the making of a fight sequence, and feature commentary with director Doug Liman.

“The Bourne Supremacy” bonus features include U-Control (picture in picture, Bourne dossier, Bourne orientation), BD-Live, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), and featurettes about the casting of the principal characters, how Paul Greengrass was chosen as director, the demolition of a suburban home in Munich, on location in Berlin, Moscow and Goa (India), Damon’s fight training, the Moscow chase scene, the bridge chase scene, Josh Powell and the film’s score, a profile on Robert Ludlum, and a psychological diagnosis of Jason Bourne.

“The Bourne Ultimatum” bonus features also include U-Control, BD-Live and deleted scenes, as well as featurettes about the film’s exotic locations (Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and Tangier), the Tangier rooftop chase scene, fight training with Matt Damon and co-star Joey Ansah, Damon’s training and the shooting of the New York chase scene, and feature commentary with director Paul Greengrass.

Click to buy “The Bourne Identity”
Click to buy “The Bourne Supremacy”
Click to buy “The Bourne Ultimatum”

  

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From Toronto to Hogsmeade, Metropolis, and the vid store

Colin Firth and Matthew Goode in "A Single Man"

Wake up. It’s been a busy day in movie world.

* Plenty of festival happenings up are in the offing up in Toronto, the most high profile of which is the famously award-savvy Weinstein Company’s pick, for a reported $1-2 million, of “A Single Man.” This is a sort of film that would be strictly art-house fare, and low profile art-house fare at that, if it weren’t also potential Oscar fare. From fashion designer-turned director Tom Ford, it’s a drama about a college professor (Colin Firth) dealing with the death of his lover over the course of a single day in 1960s Los Angeles. The film also stars Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode (Adrian Veidt in “Watchmen“) and is based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood, the openly gay mid-century English-born writer whose stories about Wiemar-era Berlin eventually became “I Am a Camera” by playwright John van Druten, which eventually became the movie and stage musicals, “Cabaret.” Variety has the details along with more about the activity surrounding a number of other new movies.

The most interesting of these to me is “Harry Brown,” which stars Michael Caine in a film that’s going to be plugged, probably inaccurately, as the Brit “Gran Torino.” I’ve always liked Caine’s movie work, but he became something of a personal hero of mine while I was researching a Bullz-Eye look back at his career not so long ago. If you’ve never seen the original version of “Get Carter,” it’s important to know Caine is capable of being at least twice as tough as Mr. Eastwood or just about anyone else this side of Lee Marvin. That’s largely because he’s an extremely disciplined film actor and also probably partly because his pre-stardom life was, really and truly, no picnic. The man’s known grinding poverty, serious action in the Korean War, and the down and dirty truth of crime in his native London. His acting only gets better as such relatively recent films as “The Quiet American” and “Children of Men” proves. This one really has my attention.

Alan Rickman exerts his control over Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint* The new head of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson, made her rep partly as the manager of the Harry Potter “brand” for Warner Brothers. No word on whether and/or how much she was involved, but Warners is annoucing a deal with the Universal Orlando Resort for a Harry Potter theme park. Nikki Finke has the press release and videos showing the basic layout (it’s essentially Hogsmeade, the town adjacent to Hogwarts from the books and movies), as well as plugs from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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