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December 10, 2007 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | December 10, 2007 |

Because this is the second week in a row there has been only one wide release, there’s not much point in rehashing the same films we’ve discussed in the last few weeks. Suffice it to say, the one wide release, The Golden Compass, achieved the top spot with a meager $26 million, mustering up an amount at the lower than expectations. It has virtually no chance of making back its $200 million production and marketing budget, at least not without a huge international grosses and a crapload of DVD sales, which means — of course — that Nicole Kidman has had only one unqualified box-office or critical success since she and Tom split up (2002’s The Hours). But then again, if you take out Moulin Rouge and, maybe, To Die For, has Kidman ever made a film that anyone can honestly say that had a real affection for? She really is an unnacceptably boring actress.

Anyway, that out of the way, let’s take this week and look and see how some of the smaller, well received (both here and elsewhere) films are right now. The biggest success, of course, is the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, which has actually managed to work its way up the charts, finding itself at number six this week. In fact, with around $29 million so far, No Country is on track to be the biggest box-office draw of any Coen brothers film ever, surpassing O Brother, Where Are Thou?, which fetched $45 million. It’s depressing to think that no Coen film has made anymore than that, and that as of right now, their two worst films, Intolerable Cruelty and Ladykillers (good God I hated Ladykillers) are their second and third biggest films in terms of box-office (thanks to Clooney and Hanks, at their box-office peak, no doubt). Unbelievably, Lebowski only made $17 million, while Fargo only made $25 million, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t seen those two films, while I don’t know a single soul (aside from poor JMW, who had to review it) who has seen Wild Hogs, which made $170 million. This, and a whole lot of other things, of course, is why Pajiba will never have millions of readers — we just aren’t in tune with the Wild Hogs crowd.

Mini-diversion: In your opinion, which is the best Coen brothers film? (My vote goes to Raising Arizona).

Among films that are finally getting to some of your small-town indie theaters, Ryan Gosling’s brilliant and heartbreaking Lars and the Real Girl has surpassed the $5 million mark, which is not bad considering that it’s a love story about a man and a blow-up doll. Unfortunately, without a big Oscar push, its chances of recouping its $12 million budget look slim. Elsewhere, Wes Anderson fatigue has clearly set in; The Darjeeling Limited, approaching the $13 million mark, looks to fall short of even where Rushmore landed ($17 million). Hopefully, his Roald Dahl animated feature, The Fantastic Mr. Fox will get him back on track in 2009. Anderson’s sometimes writing partner, Noah Baumbach, is faring even worse; after three weeks in release, Margot at the Wedding has barely even broken the $1 million mark, and things don’t look promising for expansion.

This weekend’s crowd-pleasing opener, Juno, buoyed by great reviews, award season buzz, and positive word of mouth, is killing, racking up a $60,000 per theater average on only seven screens, which is eight times more per theater than The Golden Compass. I suspect Juno, along with Waitress (which made nearly $20 million in theaters), will be the year’s biggest indies. God bless Fox Searchlight, which distributed both films and has to be the best of the indie outfits (inasmuch as you can call a Fox-owned studio an indie). Grace (I)s Gone, however, had a dismal opening, generating only $3,500 per screen, on four screens. C’mon, folks: It’s all right to cry; crying gets the sad out of you.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which looks like a shoe-in for an Oscar nom in the foreign language category, is doing very well in very limited release; it racked up a $20,000 per theater average its first weekend, good for third in per screen average (our review will be up on Wednesday). Atonement, likewise, is riding solid buzz (our review of it will be up today) and put up impressive numbers in only 32 theaters this weekend, with an amazing $26,000 per theater.

Into the Wild, which — after nearly three months of release — is probably just now hitting theaters in Sheboygan, has put up a fairly respectable gross of $16 million. Conversely, Richard Kelley’s Southland Tales is going nowhere fast. After a month’s release, it has virtually no hope of breaking the half-million dollar barrier. The Savages isn’t doing particularly well, either; after two weeks, it’s hit $400,000 and probably will end up around $1.5 million as a final tally. Given the hype, subject material, and star power involved in the Bob Dylan indie I’m Not There, the producers have to be fairly unhappy with its current gross — after three weeks in release, it’s only made $2.2 million. Finally, I’ll mention the Jude Law and Michael Caine movie Sleuth simply because it arrived locally this week. But, the Cinemopolis has to be feeling bad about its prospects of selling a lot of popcorn laced in Brewer’s yeast, as Sleuth doesn’t stand a chance of making more than $300,000 total.

And, on DVD this week, just in time for Christmas, both The Bourne Ultimatum and Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix hit shelves tomorrow. I’d wait until the trilogy box set is released before buying the former, while I probably wouldn’t bother with the latter, unless you’re a Potter completist.

And I’ll leave you, today, with a television show worse than even “Cavemen.”

What's the Most You Ever Lost on a Coin Toss?

Box-Office Round-Up / Dustin Rowles

Industry | December 10, 2007 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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