Things turned out at this weekend’s box office more or less as predicted on Thursday. “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” came in on top at an estimated $19 million for Fox, according to the Box Office Mojo chart, about a million or two shy of the figures being bandied about, but close enough for an adult skewing film expected to have decent legs. Nikki Finke thinks it may have missed it’s moment in terms of being a topical must-see and also avoiding some bad press provided by the mouthy Oliver Stone. Maybe. She also points out that Fox hasn’t exactly been on a hot streak this summer. Still, this is actually a career high, raw cash wise, for Stone and not too bad a showing for the longest break between an original and a sequel since Martin Scorsese and Paul Newman dared to follow-up the genuine classic, “The Hustler,” with his underrated non-classic, “The Color of Money,” a quarter century after the fact.
Following not so far behind, really, is Warners’ “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” which earned an estimated $16.3 million. Anthony D’Allesandro is calling the film a “bomb” along the lines of the recent “Cats and Dogs” sequel. That may be accurate compared to what family films like this usually make and in light an as yet unspecified large budget but it’s still within a couple of million of this weekend’s $50-70 million live-action hit.
While the books might have had an audience, something just seemed generally awry and the film lacked a clear premise for non-fans other than “owls fighting.” Whether or not Zack Snyder, whose early hits are receding in the memory of Hollywood, no doubt, gets to remain in the high end movie big leagues may now be largely dependent on what happens when his strange and zany looking action fantasy, “Sucker Punch,” comes out on 3/25/11.
Coming in at #3, and just a hair shy of the owl movie, is “The Town” which is showing some strong early awards season legs, dropping a mere 32.5% for an estimated second weekend showing of just over $16 million. More good news for Ben Affleck, whose been built up, torn down and is now being built up again, only to again, I’m sure, be torn down at the next opportunity. The teen no-sex comedy “Easy A” held up nicely, too. It dropped by a modest 39.7% and earned an estimated $10.7 million. That’s much better than it sounds when you consider that the film has already quintupled it’s very modest $8 million budget in domestic theaters.
There was a rare show of critic/consumer unity as two critically slammed comedies met some significant misfortune. The weekend’s third major new release, “You Again,” continued hugely talented actress Kristen Bell‘s prodigious bad breaks with a lackluster estimated $8.3 million, despite having Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, and even Betty White as back-up.
Still, Bell’s film was a smash compared to the once somewhat highly touted reinvention of the horny teenager genre, “The Virginity Hit.” The critically hated mock-reality teen sexer, which technically was deflowered weeks ago in a series of sneak previews theoretically intended to promote positive word of mouth, provided little satisfaction as it expanded into 700 theaters with a truly dismal per-screen average of $429. For comparison, only one film this week had a worse per-screen average, and that was the Afghanistan war documentary, “Restrepo,” which has been in theaters for 14 weeks. I feel pretty sure that those ill-advised “Still a Virgin?” billboards only mystified the masses and angered the kind of people who get angry about stuff like that.
The week’s best per-screen average, was the education documentary from Davis Guggenheim, “Waiting for Superman” which earned an average of over $35,000 in four theaters. Woody Allen’s latest, “You Will Meet a Tall Stanger, which is inspired by the belief that there is no supernatural dimension to existence, the trippy and cinephile-dividing “Enter the Void,” which is based on the premise that there might be, the near one-man-show for Ryan Reynolds, “Buried” — which will be going wider — and the not-quite documentary, “Howl,” starring a soon-to-be-hugely famous James Franco, all did reasonably well-to-okay on the indie side of the street.