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.
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.
Knowing, the new Nicolas Cage film, a genre in itself these days, reigned supreme at the US box-office over the weekend, racking up an impressive $24.8m over the three days. This was enough to knock I Love You, Man into second, taking a slightly disappointing $18m with Duplicity, the return of Julia Roberts (although she kind of returned with Charlie Wilson’s War a little way back), was another disappointment, taking only $14.4m despite relatively good reviews. This has prompted a few commentators to question the bankability of Roberts in the modern day.
Outside of that, Race to Witch Mountain slightly under half in its second week to $13m with Watchmen propping up the top five with $6.7m. It means the total gross of the latter currently remains under $100m for its domestic take.
So Race to Witch Mountain has outrun Watchmen to the finish post this week with the Rock-starring Disney reimagining putting up a pretty average $25m opening. Watchmen took a hair over $18m to finish in second, boosting its total to over $83m thus far, still a little disappointing for such a super-hyped, uber-promoted blockbuster, no matter the length or difficulty. The glossed-up remake of exploitation horror ‘classic’ Last House on the Left took only $14m with the only other new release, the awful-looking Miss March, wheezing to a $2m opening, not aided by dire reviews.
Other notables include another $6m for the Liam Neeson sleeper Taken and just over $5m for Slumdog Millionaire. Both of those are now looking at totals by the close of around $140/150m domestic.
Full table here.