Not to get all Jeff Foxworthy on y’all, but you know it’s awards season when … people turn out in record numbers to spend two hours alongside an obese and abused Harlem teen who’s pregnant with her second child by a father who happens to be her own. Things get a bit more dire from there, but there’s a reason that Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire is on the brink of contention — it’s chock full of impressive performances (if undermined by flashy direction), not the least of which comes from Mo’Nique as Precious’ relentlessly wicked mother. (Yes, THAT Mo’Nique.)
Precious is also on the brink of box office success, drawing in a whopping $1.8 million on a mere 18 screens and scheduled to roll out pretty steadily in the weeks to come (our full review will be posted this week). Sure, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry lending their cred to the picture didn’t hurt, but the film boasts the prospect of becoming the cross-over downer to beat in the months to come (suck it, The Road!). Of course, that means you can also expect Backlash: Based on the People Who Didn’t Think ‘Precious’ Was All That to land any day now, but hey, it just wouldn’t be awards season without a handful of haters lurking nearby.
Meanwhile, in more suburban news, Jim Carrey topped the charts as roughly a dozen different characters in Bob Zemeckis’ take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (review later today). The $31-million opening weekend landed comfortably between that of Will Ferrell’s Elf and Zemeckis’ own The Polar Express, but legs alone will determine whether or not this surprisingly traditional adaptation (read: dark for a family film) will earn its keep before Avatar peels it off each and every 3-D screen across the country/world.
Second place went to the second week of This Is It, garnering $14 million more for the Michael Jackson estate. Third place went to The Men Who Stare at Goats, whose $13.3 million is in line with star George Clooney’s last two vehicles and bodes well enough for his forthcoming Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up in the Air (though it doesn’t hurt that one’s a likely Best Animated Feature nominee and the other’s a certain Best Picture contender). Fourth place went to the faux-tastic likes of The Fourth Kind, whose $12.5 million put a moderate dent in fifth-place wunderkind Paranormal Activity ($8.6 million), which itself still beat out sixth-place newcomer and Richard Kelly’s latest brain-buster, The Box ($7.9 million) (review forthcoming).
Seventh was Couples Retreat ($6.4 million, a number almost impossibly identical to last week), eighth was Law Abiding Citizen ($6.2 million, a little less, as these things tend to go), ninth was Where the Wild Things Are ($4.2 million; it had its run) and tenth was Astro Boy ($2.6 million; maybe it should’ve had more Mo’Nique in it).