Back in June, pop superstar Michael Jackson passed away. (You may have heard about this.) And then, back in July, Sony forked over something like $60 million for the rights to use what rehearsal footage had been filmed in order to fashion together a concert film with which to make up the cost of the concerts that he would no longer be able to perform. So that’s why the number that keeps getting thrown around is $101 million, because that’s how much This Is It made worldwide since its release last Wednesday, and that’s the type of number that theoretically justifies a $60-million price tag.
Strictly in domestic terms, the film made $32.5 million — pretty good for a film no one was meant to have seen, at least not before DVD, but certainly not the predicted record-smasher (though it does look to lay claim to some concert film and documentary-minded superlatives in the end). Even though the allegedly limited demand caused by a two-week run didn’t blow the doors off, Sony still insists on (surprise) leaving the film in theaters through Thanksgiving, before getting a home video release on shelves by year’s end. (I suppose that’s why the song was called “Man in the Mirror” and not “Man in the Ever-Shrinking Theater-to-Video Window” … no? nothing?)
Second place went to the still-expanding Paranormal Activity, which dipped with the Halloween holiday taking butts out of seats, but still managed $16.5 million for a total of $84.8 million to date. Not too shabby, though Paramount’s insistence that it’s a more profitable release than The Blair Witch Project can’t help but seem disingenuous at best (that $15,000 number was for the original budget, not for reshoots, not for promotional costs or prints or…). Still: not too shabby at all.
Third place was Law Abiding Citizen with $7.3 million, fourth was Couples Retreat with $6.1 million and fifth was Saw VI petering off with $5.6 million. Where the Wild Things Are came in at sixth ($5.1 million), The Stepfather landed in seventh ($3.4 million) and, depending on where you get your numbers, Astro Boy and Amelia claimed either eighth or ninth place with $3 million (not bad for the latter, considering they added 250 screens this weekend after opening to just $4 million in 11th place). Closing out the top ten was Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, with a meager $2.8 million. I guess when it comes to that prospective franchise, this was it.