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Thank Goodness Rachel McAdams Didn't Star in District 9

By William Goss | Box Office Round-Ups | August 17, 2009 |

By William Goss | Box Office Round-Ups | August 17, 2009 |

“Because we didn’t know what it was about.”

That was the gist of the justification from my brother and my father as to why they picked District 9 as their filmed entertainment of choice over this past weekend, and $37 million worth of similarly intrigued minds across the nation seemed to agree. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, bumped down a notch by this newcomer, may have made about $17 million more when it opened to fairly select rave reviews (D-9 had plenty to spare) and a more accessible PG-13 rating, but G.I. Joe has yet to break even on its budget, a feat that District 9 seems to have swiftly and deftly managed in its first weekend (props to that marketing campaign, for sure).

It’s a good thing, though, that New Line/Warner Bros. was counting on no similar air of mystery, but rather the familiarity of a best-selling novel to draw in its crowd for The Time Traveler’s Wife, because star Rachel McAdams (bless her heart) gave away no small amount of plot points on last Thursday’s “Daily Show.” I mean, you need to see this for yourself.

Isn’t she just the cutest when potentially denting her opening weekend with several slips of the tongue? No matter — the film still opened in third place to $19.2 million, presumably garnering the attention of all women not still catching up on the fourth-place Julie & Julia ($12.4 million) and not yet drawn in by the prospect of Rachel Nichols in boob armor. (I feel it should be noted that, between the performance of Julie, Wife, The Proposal and - ugh - The Ugly Truth [#8, BTW], the XX-chromosome crowd has been a key factor in keeping this summer’s box office on par with last summer’s, and likely to outpace it.)

G-Force hung in at fifth place with $6.9 million, and Harry Potter landed in seventh with $5.3 million, and stuck between the family fare was a new release decidedly not for kids (though plenty juvenile): the Jeremy Piven-starring, Will Ferrell-produced The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Speaking of kids, juvenile or otherwise, the Hayao Miyazaki fantasy Ponyo claimed ninth place with $3.5 million on under a thousand screens. His Howl’s Moving Castle opened in far fewer theaters but grossed $4.7 million here in the States, and Spirited Away before that built itself up to a $10 million take, so expect Ponyo’s final numbers to land in between — and since each of those films managed an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, can we expect the same here? Probably. Flick’s adorable. Fish eating ham = WIN. (Pajiba’s review will be up on Tuesday.)

And most sites agree that (500) Days of Summer came in at number 10, with a mere $2,000 standing between it and the steady slip of Judd Apatow’s Funny People (#11, $3 million). It’s a pity and shame that Apatow’s most mature work to date broke his winning streak as writer-director, but hopefully whatever follow-up he chooses will have ads that give away less of the plot, give a better idea of the tone and will assure the masses that that film’ll run under two hours, scout’s honor. The week’s only other new wide releases were the too-wholesome-for-its-own-good Bandslam (still cracking $2.2 million in 13th place, with a bit of a boost from an attached New Moon trailer premiere) and the Ashton-Kutcher-as-man-whore vanity project Spread, which took in an embarrassing $117,000 on its 91 screens.

The stand-out indie of the week was rock doc It Might Get Loud, which boasted the single biggest per-screen average on seven screens, proof enough that having The Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White jam out together beats out aliens anyday.”

William Goss lives in Orlando, Florida. But don’t hold that against him.

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