With no new wide releases this weekend, there’s little of interest to report on the box office. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I held its spot atop the charts for the third week in a row, amassing $16 million to bring its total to $247 million so far. Martin Scorsese’s Hugo added theaters and jumped to number three, adding $7.6 million to bring its total to $25 million, while Arthur Christmas had the best hold among any film since 2005’s Just Friends, dropping only 12 percent and landing at number four with $7 million (and $25 million overall). It should continue to play well — and may even improve — all the way up until Christmas.
But what I want to talk about is The Muppets, which held on to the number two spot this week but added only $11.2 million. After ten days, its total stands at $56 million.
That’s terrible. And I don’t get it. I don’t get it because this is the movie almost everyone I know has gone to see. It’s a movie I’ve already seen twice. It appeals to all ages, those with kids and without, new fans and old. Critics love it. You’d be hard pressed to find many people who have seen it and didn’t walk out grinning like a goddamn idiot, and it features a few moderate (Jason Segel, Amy Adams) to bigger (Jack Black) stars. Plus Muppets. Meanwhile, Rango and Rio make $123 and $143 million respectively and, all due respect, I don’t remember which is which (one had Johnny Depp and a lizard. The other had some Angry Birds or something). The Smurfs — THE SMURFS — made $142 million with no star power, bad reviews, and NO MUPPETS.
It’s a goddamn mystery. But it’s not the only one this year. There are nine other films that had what I thought the right ingredients, positive reviews, good word of mouth, and the talent involved, if not to be huge hits, at least become moderate successes.
10 Movies that Should’ve Made an Assload More Than They Did in 2011
The Muppets: $56 million. The Muppets will probably end up with around $85-$90 million overall, which isn’t bad until you compare it to the likes of The Smurfs, another movie that played on 80s nostalgia that somehow did manage to connect.
50/50: $34 million. You got the guy from Inception, the guy from Knocked Up, and one of the women from Twilight, a great script that featured a heady mix of sadness and comedy and 50/50 nevertheless fizzled, lost during a month when movie attendance was slumping,
Drive: $34 million. I know that ultra-violent mood pieces aren’t necessarily a big draw, but there were a lot of folks that were pissed off that the ad campaigns suggested something that Drive wasn’t. Nevermind how great the movie was, why didn’t more people go to see the movie advertised? The movie star may be dead, but it shouldn’t be, not while Ryan Gosling is cranking out movies. I’m not saying Drive should’ve been the $200 million hit that Fast Five was, I’m just saying it should’ve made at least $50 or $60 million.
Winnie the Pooh: $26 million. Another sweet children’s movie with wide appeal and a brand character that nevertheless failed to find an audience, though I absolutely could not tell you why.
Fright Night: $18 million. The best horror movie of the year, a remake WITH VAMPIRES, and it appealed to critics. Look: I consider myself hard on movies, but few are harder than Daniel Carlson. Some of us may set the bar a little lower than Dan, but goddamn it, if Dan says a movie is good, you better f*cking believe it’s good. Where were the horror hounds? The teenagers? They showed up for Insidious ? Why couldn’t they show up for a horror flick that was actually good?
Warrior: $13 million. A huge star in the making, Tom Hardy, plus not only one but two Rocky stories. Audiences almost always show up for boxing flicks; this one was like boxing on heroin plus it was a feel good flick and it still managed to keep a PG-13 rating. That’s the perfect marketing pitch, and yet, audiences stayed away.
Win Win: $10 million. Another feel-good formula movie that just happened to be written and directed by an indie guy (Tom McCarthy). If people had just given this movie a chance, it could’ve been a hit. All the storytelling ingredients were there; all that was missing were people to buy tickets.
Attack the Block: $1 million. This is the movie that Super 8 should’ve been: A killer sci-fi flick that successfully tapped into that Amblin vibe. the online hype was deafening (in fact, it might have been overkill), but online hype and a dollar will buy you jack squat.
Hesher: $382,000. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plus Natalie Portman alone should’ve fetched this movie $5 million at the box office, but you add to it generally positive reviews and a cult-ish vibe, and it makes no sense to me why Hesher did not perform better.
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil: $223,000. Most big horror movie fans managed to see Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil before it even opened (thanks to a long delay between the festival circuit and its release, plus torrents), it was a huge hit with audiences, and the perfect midnight movie kind of film. Not exactly blockbuster material, but it should’ve at least did 1983 Evil Dead numbers ($3 million). Alas, despite a great online marketing campaign and a small cult of supporters, Tucker & Dale went nowhere.