Reading the most recent issue of Time, there was a brief note during its Oscar predictions on the comparable box-office totals for The Hurt Locker and Avatar.
The first, an essentially apolitical Iraq war movie which explores the psyche of those addicted to conflict, made a total of $12m at the US box-office. That’s a total of $12m over its entire run in the US.
The second, James Cameron’s uber-blockbuster and undoubtedly a treatise on either environmentalism or, pertinently, the imperialist ambitions of the US in the Middle East, has made that per day. Yes, it’s total box-office in the US so far is around $400m, meaning an average of $12m per day.
So, two points. First, any suggestion that movies about Iraq cannot work isn’t quite true, they just have to be 3D and wrapped in Pantheistic theory. Second, isn’t it slightly depressing that a film which seeks so desperately to understand something about the human condition is trounced so heartily by a bloated, arrogant but visually impressive film. An on-mass example of someone fleeing towards the shiny goods instead of the quality produce.
It would seem that, given that the two are emerging as the key contenders for the Oscars this year, that the Academy has an opportunity either to reward hollow commercialism with a mixed message, or vital independent filmmaking in which the ‘message’ is eschewed in favour of probing the mind of those at the heart of our generation’s conflict.
So, it seems these Terminators from the future and all that aren’t quite as tough as they would have you believe. Indeed, Terminator Salvation was taught a pretty tough lesson over the weekend as Ben Stiller and friends trounced McG’s franchise effort.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian essentially managed to get all the kids and families into its hollow web of fun to rack up $53.5m over the weekend, an unbelievable result when considering it was up against Terminator Salvation.
The Christian Bale-starring, McG-helmed fourth instalment took $43m, meaning Night at the Museum topped it by $10m, enough in 1984 to make the original Terminator and have significant change. That’s a meaningless fact but, still, that’s quite a big defeat for Terminator given its $200m budget and very high business expectations.
Star Trek managed to stay close to top spot with $21.9m, just pipping Angels & Demons in fourth with $21.4m. They were followed up in fifth by Dance Flick, the horrible-looking Wayans-run spoof, which made a horrifying $11.1m.
The top ten is rounded out by X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Obsessed, Monsters vs Aliens and 17 Again.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine followed its super-sized bow in the US with a chunky haul in the UK too, taking £6.6m during its first five days on release. It meant Miley Cyrus and her Hannah Montana: The Movie had to settle for second, despite the youngster’s publicity wave throughout the week trying to promote the film.
Hannah Montana took a solid £2.03m to finish in second, over double the take of previous number one State of Play, taking £0.98m to just nip in ahead of Matthew McConaughey and his Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
Zac Efron clung onto fifth with 17 Again, followed up by Monsters vs Aliens, Fast & Furious, I Love You, Man, In The Loop and The Uninvited to round out the top ten.
The only disappointment of the week was the £123,309 taken by Is Anybody There?, the new film from Sir Michael Caine.
It’s likely Wolverine’s time at the top will be obliterated in the coming week with the release of Star Trek but, after a very troubled route to cinemas, this one really did some solid business, as can be shown from the ridiculous number of further X-Men projects now being flung into development.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which we will review on our podcast this week, kicked off the summer season in style from a business standpoint, racking up an impressive $87m opening weekend. It’s the second-best opening for an X-Men movie so far, only outdone by the third instalment, X-Men: The Last Stand. Note as well that the big box-office comes on the back of terrible buzz and bad reviews in the lead up to the release.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which many hoped would rack up a tidy sum through counter-programming against Wolverine, took $15.3m to take up the second spot.
Obsessed, the surprise box-office topper of last week, took a drop of 57 per cent to gross $12.2m and a ten-day gross of $47m, noted to be over twice its overall budget.
17 Again dropped again to fourth, taking $6.3m in its third week of release to have only $48m total, surely a disappointment in light of the success which could have been expected with Zac Efron on board.
Monsters vs Aliens retained a top five place with $5.8m, taking its total to $185m since release.
Meanwhile, The Soloist, the somewhat disappointment from last week managed to hold up quite well, taking a further $5.6m with Disneynature’s Earth documentary and Fighting, the Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard-starring, well, fighting movie, following on with $4.2m apiece.
Beyonce Knowles-starring thriller Obsessed has taken a pretty impressive $28.5m over its opening weekend to top the US charts. The movie, which also stars The Wire’s Idris Elba and Heroes’ Ali Larter, took the second biggest opening for a Screen Gems movie ever, only defeated by the Exorcism of Emily Rose in 2005. It’s a pretty astonishingly high opening, probably a testament to the star power of Knowles in ostensibly her second profession.
Zac Efron’s 17 Again managed to remain relatively resilient in second place with $11.7m, a respectable second week total which allowed it just to pip the Channing Tatum-starring Fighting. That managed $11.4m to come in well above expectations for a minimum star movie.
That contrasted to the film in fourth place, Joe Wright’s The Soloist with Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx. It seems that, unlike Knowles, the star power of Downey Jr doesn’t quite stretch across audiences to bring his Iron Man muscle to the film. It could also have been hurt by Jamie Foxx’s idiocy over the past week or so in insulting Disney star Miley Cyrus in such a childish and twattish manner. Mum’s don’t like stars who have a go at youngers, Jamie.
A notable entry in fifth came to Earth, the first film to come from the newly-formed Disneynature subsidiary of the Mouse House. It managed $8.6m over the weekend, the third best ever for a documentary, with a five-day gross of $14.2m.
17 Again has managed to top the US box office over the weekend, racking up a total of $24m as Zac Efron carried his HSM box-office power over into the adult world.
It’s opening is small but it still managed to trounce the next closest film, the Russell Crowe-Ben Affleck thriller State of Play. That only managed $14m despite relatively decent reviews.
Monsters vs Aliens remained resilient in third place, taking $12.9m and pumping its total gross to $162m. That contrasted to the relative lack of resilience from last week’s number one, Hannah Montana: The Movie, which dropped off 60 per cent to take $12.6m, and Fast & Furious dropping of further to $12.2m.
Crank: High Voltage must be considered a disappointment, given the absolute genius of the first film, taking only $6.5m to take up sixth place.
Monsters vs Aliens had no problems in making to the top of the UK box-office in the past weekend, taking £4.3m over the three days to trounce Richard Curtis’ The Boat that Rocked.
The latter managed £1.8m to come in second, but that might be considered a slight disappointment given the normal box-office dominance of Curtis-involved films in the UK.
Knowing dropped from first to third with £968,664 followed up by Marley & Me and The Haunting in Connecticut.
Monsters vs Aliens was no big surprise but Curtis’ movie suffered from its weak reviews. When the economy hits a downturn, it’s less likely people will take a chance on seeing a film which has been given a mixed reception, something which wouldn’t have harmed other Brit-coms during the boom years.
Um. Yeah. So, apparently Paul Walker + Vin Diesel + Jordana Brewster + Michelle Rodriguez = box-office gold. Fast & Furious, the unlikely four instalment of the diminishing series, racked up a quite ridiculous $72m over its opening weekend. That’s more than Monsters vs Aliens, more than Watchmen. Cinematical notes further this is higher than the entire domestic gross of the third film, Tokyo Drift, by $10m. It is, indeed, the biggest opening weekend achieved since The Dark Knight.
Monsters vs Aliens dropped by 44 per cent in its second weekend with $33.5m, taking its cumulative gross in ten days to over $100m. It will be interesting to see how well Fast & Furious does on its second weekend.
The Haunting in Connecticut held on to third with $9.6m followed by Knowing and I Love You, Man. Adventureland failed to capitalise on any box-office capital held by Greg Mottola, and strong reviews, making only $6m over its opening weekend.
Nicolas Cage has screamed and inappropriately raised his voice all the way to the top of the charts in the UK over the weekend. Knowing racked up £2.5m over the three days, knocking Marley & Me down to second with £1.7m.
The Haunting in Connecticut comes in at three with £1.1m, showing the continued appetite for barely passable horror films for cinema-goers around the UK. Paul Blart: Mall Cop has slammed in fourth with £1m while The Damned United, the Peter Morgan/Michael Sheen project about Brian Clough’s tenure as Leeds manager, came in fifth on its opening weekend with £618,929.
It seems Cage is an unstoppable box office machine with his superdumb, sci-fi mystery thriller things. Why? How? Don’t ask me.
Monsters vs Aliens was by far the blockbuster release of the week in the states, and it lived up to part of its name with a dominating $58.2m, the biggest debut of the year thus far, topping the $55.2m racked up by Watchmen. Not only did it top the charts, it managed to do so with 58 per cent of the gross coming from 3D screens, working out to enough to take it top of the charts on 3D tickets alone, according to figures gleaned from ComingSoon.net.
The Haunting in connecticut, the new Lionsgate horror filler, managed $23m with Knowing taking a 40.2 per cent second week drop to take $14.7m. I Love You, Man came in fourth with Duplicity rounding out the top five.
The Monsters vs Aliens blockbuster opening is likely to bring about new talks of the potential for 3D movies, although I would argue that there still remains a long way to go before 3D comes headlong into the mainstream when you have something to open against and it’s not squarely aimed at the young children market.