Big weekend at the box office: Twi-Hards turn out; proof that young men don’t listen (to critics)

This week, most of whatever suspense there was was not at all about which movie will be #1 or, as it turns out, #2 (not quite a 100% sure thing earlier). It had to do with what actually matters when the show business rubber meets the audience road: how much cash did the movies generate from the summer’s biggest holiday weekend but amid gloomy news and gloomier punditry regarding the economy? The answer seems to be what Joel McCrea learned at the end of “Sullivan’s Travels,” people in dire straights need entertainment and fantasy more, not less. I only wish they were getting something as thoughtful as “Ants in Your Plants of 1939.”

Edward and Bella...ooooohhhhhhhhhOver the three day Friday-Sunday weekend, Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” earned an estimated $69 million according to the Box Office Mojo chart. For the broader and potentially confusing numbers covering the extended movie weekends for the two new major new releases this week, I’ll rely on Anne Thompson’s pal Anthony D’Alessandro. He tells us “Eclipse” earned an estimated $175 million and change, just a few million bucks below the similar six-day frame of 2004’s “Spiderman 2,” though not adjusted for ongoing movie-ticket inflation.

This is the point in the series ordinarily where some might wonder if interest is starting to flag, but this is a long-running movie/book soap opera and a continuing tale similar to the Harry Potter in terms of fan interest/involvement. Also, this entry overall got significantly better reviews than the second film in the series, which might indicate the film itself is more boyfriend friendly for this very female-driven franchise.

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Friday night movie news dump

I’ve got a bunch of other stuff to get to, so let’s see how efficient and selective I can be tonight.

* We have a Bat-date and it’s July 20, 2012.

* “Iron Man 2” is already starting to rake it in.

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* I can’t believe I failed to mention this a couple of days back, but writer-director Bill Condon is handling the next “Twilight” film. These days, Condon is best known for “Dreamgirls,” and he did a brilliant job turning Bob Fosse’s anti-dramatic theater-piece, “Chicago,” into an audience-friendly hit as a writer. However, he’s made a horror film (one of the “Candyman” films) and also his terrific “Gods and Monsters” was an homage to “Frankenstein” director and all-around filmmaking great James Whale. In other words, he’s far more interesting a guy to do this than you would expect.

* News-flash: “Kick-Ass” man Matthew Vaughn will, once again, not be directing an X-Men movie. Don’t stop the presses!

* If James Cameron paid such careful attention to the science in “Avatar,” why couldn’t he also spend a little time on the dialogue?

* With all the sequels being made, why the f*** not “Anchorman 2”? Too many comedy superstars means too much $, I suppose.

* Speaking of money, you’d think it would be easy for David O. Russell to get enough money for two or so days of shooting to finish “Nailed,” written by Kristen Gore (Al and Tipper’s  funny daughter). It seems the quirky comedy (the extremely talented, conflict-prone Russell makes no other kind) has been sent to cinema hell — or purgatory if we’re all lucky — not by Russell, who for once seems to have things nicely under control, but by seriously troubled producer David Bergstein. For those of you with enough time, check out the long version of what left this film literally hanging as written by Kim Masters. Sad/fascinating stuff.

* Justly respected critic Todd McCarthy is back after being canned by Variety and blogging for Indiewire. Good news.

* J.J. Abrams may be doing something with Steven Spielberg. Quoth Beaks:

[It] will be “both a tribute to and a collaboration with Steven Spielberg”. The film, about which nothing specific is known, is intended as an homage to Spielberg’s ’70s and early ’80s output; “…an interpretation of some of Spielberg’s earlier films, but done in a personal way.”

…This is either kinda cool, or a little creepy. I can’t decide.

  

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