How was your weekend, folks? Good, good. Glad to hear it. I had a great weekend, myself. Three of our “cabal” was at Comic-Con this weekend (we may have a couple more pieces going up today from the floor, but don’t miss Steven Lloyd Wilson’s flat-out brilliant man on the ground post. I’m really fucking proud of that piece. Otherwise, a few of the other writers also made it up to Maine to hang out for the weekend. We drank and OH MY FUCKING GOD A TALKING GUINEA PIG MOVIE IS THE NUMBER ONE FILM AT THE BOX OFFICE.
This is what it’s come to, huh? A poorly-reviewed, Bruckheimer-produced live-action talking animal movie featuring guinea pigs. Why won’t children listen to the critics?! What’s wrong with those goddamn seven year olds — have their brains been addled by too much Kool-Aid (do kids still drink Kool Aid, and if so, where is the Kool-Aid Man’s movie already?). Why do these snot-nosed brats always go for the lowest-common denominator? Have they no respect for themselves? Has Dora the Explorer ruined their minds? You know, back in my day, we were happy with movies about talking robots, like Short Circuit, or aliens that ate Reese’s Pieces, which everyone knows helps develop brain function. Now these goddamn kids want talking animals and CGI. The minds of our youth are being destroyed by Tracy Morgan! Can you imagine how upset the 8-year-olds of today will be in 20 years when they remake G-Force? Ha! They deserve it for making the movie the hit that it’s become.
Indeed, G-Force opened this weekend at number one, racking up an unexpected $32 million, which put it ahead of last week’s box-office victor, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which itself put up another $30 million. It represented a precipitous 61 percent drop, but with $221 million already, it’s five days ahead of where its predecessor was in terms of box office (It’s also added another $405 million internationally).
Katherine Heigl’s The Ugly Truth came in third place, with $27 million ($5 million short of where the other summer’s big romantic comedy, The Proposal, opened. Ha!). “The chemistry between Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler is a blast. It’s really a lot of fun, everything we’d hoped it would be,” Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony said. “From sneak previews to word-of-mouth screenings we had on the movie, we knew people liked the movie. If I have a choice of deciding between what the audience’s opinion is going to be versus the critics’, I’ll definitely go with the audience’s every day, and they spoke loud and clear.”
Indeed they did, Rory. Indeed they did. Audiences just loved the talking guinea pig movie and The Ugly Truth. You must be so fucking proud. How refreshing that vapid, blathering idiocy spoke to the masses this weekend.
Orphan landed at number four this weekend, with $12.7 million, which is a much better showing than I expected. I have no idea where that puts it among evil children movies, but it’s good to see Peter Sarsgaard have his biggest opening since Jarhead in 2005.
It was a decent weekend for indie flicks, too. (500) Days of Summer continues to perform exceptionally well in limited release — it put up $1.6 million in only 85 theaters, landing in 11th place behind Bruno, which was still screening in nearly 2,000 theaters. The Hurt Locker expanded to over 200 theaters and added $1.5 million to its total while maintaining a decent per-screen average of around $6,000 per theater. In the Loop also opened solidly in four theaters, grossing $25,000 per location.
Last week, a few people quibbled with the relevance of per screen average for indie theaters, reasoning that they were strongly targeted in major markets and the numers were thus skewed. And while that’s true, and while it also may be unfair to compare the per screen average of a movie that opens in 8 theaters to one that opens in 4,000, the figures are still important in terms of whether the movie will continue to expand. A successful platform release needs at least $18,000 to $20,000 per screen in its first weekend to justify further expansion. (500) Days of Summer recorded $31,000 per screen last week, and held strong with nearly $20,000 in its second week in 85 theaters, which bodes well for its prospects (and more importantly, smaller markets are more likely to pick it up in coming weeks). In the Loop, likewise, should see modest expansion next week. However, Kevin Spacey’s Shrink opened in only two theaters and only grossed $8500 per screen. Based on those per screen numbers, the chances of it making it to Austin, much less Tulsa, are fairly slim. The Answer Man, likewise, opened poorly ($2,000 per venue in 13 theaters), and likely won’t get much play next weekend.
Anyway, for the curious, here are the top five movies of 2009 so far, all summer releases:
1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($379 million)
2. Up ($273 million)
3. Star Trek ($254 million)
4. The Hangover ($247 million)
5. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince ($221 million)
And finally, a local buddy of mine sent me this, which rivals the Wolverine slurpee in terms of ridiculous movie tie-ins: Transformers Bowling Gear. Yeesh.