Archive for the ‘Katherine Heigl’ Category

8 Legitimate Box Office Draws

November 25, 2009

When I was editing my Weekend Fix video, cutting out clips and fast forwarding through parts of it to keep the time down, I cringed a little bit when I had to cut out the bit about Sandra Bullock being one of the few remaining box office draws.  Indeed, gone are the days when nothing more than an actor’s name could draw audiences to the box office in droves.  Very few movie stars actually exhibit consistent drawing power.  Unlike the Old Hollywood Era of yesteryear, these days, big box office grosses have more to do with spectacle, story, or popular franchises than they have to do with the actors’ popularity. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few names that can truly mobilize the masses and get people into the theaters.  Therefore, since I didn’t get to say my piece in my video, and it is List Wednesday, I present to you (in no particular order) these eight legitimate box office draws:

Sandra Bullock

The fantastic $34.1 million debut of The Blind Side inspired this list, and Sandra Bullock has proven time and time again that she can open movies.  Beautiful, hilarious, and yet somehow down-to-earth and relatable, Bullock comes across as funny and appealing to guys, and appealing as an everyday woman to her fellow females.  While her main audience is certainly females, and most of her big box office hits are romantic comedies (Miss Congeniality – $106 million, Two Weeks Notice – $93 million, The Proposal – $163 million), she’s proven a few times that she’s more versatile than that.  Look no further than Speed, with its $121 million gross, or The Blind Side‘s current box office performance- she’s a true-blue box office star.

Adam Sandler

I wrote about Sandler’s box office viability extensively a while ago.  You can read that post here.  All you have to know, is that this man is one of the smartest decision makers in Hollywood.  He knows his target audience, and he constantly releases films that they want to see.  Voila!  You’ve got a formula for great box office results.

Jim Carrey

The go-to man for comedy.  Jim Carrey, more than any other funnyman in the last 20 years, has established himself as the most popular comedian at the box office.  Audiences love his brand of absurd facial expressions and heartfelt sincerity.  He’s been trying to branch out lately, but when he sticks to high profile, big budget releases like Fun With Dick And Jane ($110 million), Bruce Almighty ($242 million), How The Grinch Stole Christmas ($260 million), Liar Liar ($181 million), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($108 million) features, he really hits his stride and rakes in the dollars.  I personally love it when Carrey mixes his comedy persona with some more serious roles, like in The Truman Show, which resulted in great reviews great box office ($125 million).

Jennifer Aniston

People love to tear down Jennifer Aniston, saying she hasn’t been successful as a movie star and that she should have stuck to TV.  I beg to differ.  When Aniston sticks to the breezy romantic comedy genre, she’s remarkably popular.  She’s found big success with films like Along Came Polly ($88 million), The Break Up ($118 million), Marley And Me ($143 million), He’s Just Not That Into You ($93 million).  By my calculations, that makes someone a movie star.

Will Smith

Like Sandler above, way back in the day, I dedicated a whole post to Will Smith’s box office success.  I don’t need to tell you how famous he is… Just read the old post and add 2008’s $227 million gross for Hancock to the mix.

Brad Pitt

The godfather of all celebrities has really established himself as a major box office force in the 2000s.  He doesn’t have as much of a defined genre as some of the other people on this list, but he typically plays cocky, comedic characters, though he has done his fair share of dramas as well.  In the last decade, he’s found success with Oceans Eleven ($183 million), Troy ($123 million), Oceans Twelve ($125 million), Mr. And Mrs. Smith ($186 million), Oceans Thirteen ($117 million), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button ($127 million), and Inglorious Basterds ($120 million).

Katherine Heigl

Heigl is certainly the youngest and least proven actor on this list, but in the last three years, since che burst onto the scene in TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, she has chosen her film roles wisely, and I have my eye on her as the young box office star with the most potential drawing power.  She already has figured out that her bread and butter is in the romantic comedy genre.  In 2007, she starred in Knocked Up, which grossed $146 million.  In 2008, she took 27 Dresses to $76 million.  And in 2009, she helped The Ugly Truth to $88 million.  If she continues to pick strong roles within her genre, she’ll keep seeing strong returns.

Review: "The Ugly Truth"

July 26, 2009

The RomCom is a formula tried and tested, but The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, breaks the mold just enough to be recognized as something different. It’s not a great movie, and it’s forgettable enough that by the time it was over I had already forgotten half of it, but I do remember enjoying myself.

Abby (Heigl) is the producer of a failing morning television show, once known for its intelligence. Mike (Butler) is the host of a misogynistic, sex-charged late night show called The Ugly Truth that gives people relationship advice, which usually boils down to “All men want to do is screw, so ladies, spread those legs,” except in an even crasser manner. In order to pull in some ratings, one of Abby’s bosses brings in Mike to do “The Ugly Truth” as part of their morning segment, and ratings immediately skyrocket when he talks dirty to the camera, makes it known that successful women intimidate men to impotency, and shows two girls wrestling in a tub of cherry jello. Abby, meanwhile, watches in horror.

She has troubles of her own though, because she has zero ability when it comes to romantic interactions. She has a ’10 list criteria’ and makes it known on the first date how many the guy fulfills, and reveals that she has done a background check on them. I don’t came godliness when it comes to the dating game, but is anybody really that stupid? We can hope not.

Anyway, once Abby meets her hunky next door (doctor) neighbor, and since all women are shallow, stupid money whores, she begins her attempt to woo him, with Mike’s help. His advice: be overtly sexual and play hard to get.

We all know how this ends; the more he helps, the more they bond, yada yada yada. The movie is an R-rated, crass romantic comedy. It’s not the filthiest thing I’ve seen, but it earns its rating. I wasn’t offended by it, in fact I thought it did the whole ‘vulgar’ thing really well. It’s really easy to mess up a movie like this, but I thought it handled the dirtier parts in a manner that seemed borderline realistic.

Now Heigl is fine for what she was required to do, but this movie belongs to Butler. He is a pretty impressive dude. I’ve seen him sing in the Phantom of the Opera and kick ass and scream a lot as King Leonidas, but I’d never seen him do comedy, and wasn’t sure he could pull it off. Turns out he’s a funny guy, and if there’s one thing that makes this movie passable, it’s him. If there’s two things, it’s him and the scene with the vibrating panties.

I can’t decide if the movie was trying to demonstrate that Mike’s simple, dare I say, ‘cocksure’ attitude about relationships is real, or if the “ugly truth” wasn’t so easy. Mike certainly doesn’t approve of his nephew mimicking his tactics, and when they talk it seems that he reveals that he blows out a lot of hot air for cheap entertainment. I certainly don’t approve of his message, that men have no heart and only testicles, and that women are shallow resume loving dependents. But I would like to think that wasn’t the point.

The characters aren’t particularly deep, and they are offensively stereotypical. But I have thick skin, and can laugh at offensive stereotypes, so if they want to claim all men are pig-headed and still make me laugh I can accept it. You’ll likely chuckle, and the leads have pretty strong chemistry, so if you have to go to the movies and have already seen everything else, you’ll be fine choosing this.

7/10

Weekend Fix: Fanboys And Girly Girls Run The Box Office

January 21, 2008

This weekend at the box office, 2008 continued to trounce 2007, thanks mostly to the huge debut of Cloverfield, and 27 Dresses‘ solid bridesmaid performance. Over three days, the Top 12 films earned a fantastic $131.8 million, which represents a 24% increase over last weekend, and an enormous 84% over the same weekend last year. This is made even more eye-popping when you factor in the holiday weekend. Over four days, the Top 12 churned out $157.2 million in ticket sales. Where did this box office surge come from? The fanboys.

Monster movie Cloverfield stomped onto the scene and claimed first place this weekend, grossing a huge $46 million over four days. The super-secretive Paramount picture proved that if a trailer can truly whet an audience’s appetite, they’ll show up to get their fill when it debuts. The fanboys (self-included here) have been raving about Cloverfield for months now, excitedly anticipating it in forums across the web. All that excitement translated into big box office for the J.J. Abrams produced project, which broke the record for best three-day opening in January, but I’m expecting Cloverfield to fall pretty quickly. Movies that appeal to the movie-geek community (still self-included) usually open big and fall fast. We saw it last month with AVP:R, and we’ll see it (to a lesser extent) with Cloverfield. The trend is already apparent in its opening weekend: After a $16.8 million opening day, the film fell 17% on Saturday, which implies front-loadedness. Still, with good reviews, a widely-appealing story, an $11,738 (three day) venue average, and an innovative spin on the monster movie, Cloverfield shouldn’t have much trouble crossing the $100 million mark some time in the future. In second place, the romantic comedy 27 Dresses earned about $1 million for each of the dresses in its title, garnering a sweet $27.3 million four-day gross. This is great news for both of the film’s leads, for Katherine Heigl’s star continues to rise, and James Marsden proved that he can open a movie as the romantic lead. The one-two punch of Cloverfield and 27 Dresses reminds me very much of June 30, 2006, a weekend when Superman Returns opened with $52.5 million, and chick flick The Devil Wears Prada came in second with $27.5 million. (Coincidentally, Prada and Dresses were written by the same woman, who must have a knack for penning girly movies that open well against action films.) After that weekend, The Devil Wears Prada ended up having way better legs than Superman Returns, finishing with $124.5 million versus Superman‘s $200 million, and while 27 Dresses probably won’t reach these heights (it will have trouble pulling in any men), I wouldn’t be surprised if it finished with a total very similar to Cloverfield‘s. Its three day per theater average of $7,442 is strong, and Fox has got to be happy with these results.

In third place, The Bucket List pulled in $16.1 million over the holiday weekend. Showing some fairly promising endurance, the three-day gross only fell 28% from last week, though the Morgan Freeman/Jack Nicholson comedy’s three-day venue average of $4,806 was just alright. Still, with $43.7 million after ten days, Warner Brothers’ The Bucket List is doing quite well, and that makes me pretty happy. Any time old actors can prove themselves at the box office, I’m thrilled. Juno, the little comedy that could, came in fourth place this weekend, grossing $12 million over the four day period. Over the three-day weekend, the widely released indie darling (finally) started to show some very slight signs of its age, dropping 27% and earning a $3,917 venue average, which is actually still fairly strong. Fox Searchlight has platformed Juno gradually with amazingly effective results. The teen pregnancy comedy has earned a tremendous $87.1 million over seven weekends.
First Sunday fell hard this weekend, earning just $9.4 million. Over the three-day frame, the “Hey, let’s rob a church!” comedy had a low $3,525 per theater average and fell an alarming 56%, which is pretty awful, since the four day weekend usually leads to soft declines. Still, ScreenGems (who reached a similar audience with last year’s This Christmas) will ultimately be pleased with First Sunday‘s performance. After two weekends, it’s earned $30.1 million.

In sixth place, Disney’s juggernaut National Treasure: Book of Secrets continued its great run with another $9.4 million over four days. This is and always was money in the bank for Disney, and after five weekends, the Nicholas Cage adventure film has earned $199.6 million.

Mad Money, the estrogen-heavy heist film starring Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes, and Queen Latifah, opened poorly, stealing just $9.2 million over the holiday weekend. Unable to convince many women to watch a robbery film, Mad Money lost most of its audience to 27 Dresses. The comedy earned terrible reviews and had a weak $3,022 venue average over the three-day weekend, and it should disappear from the Top 12 faster than some shredded money from the Federal Reserve.
In eighth and ninth place are constant companions Alvin and the Chipmunks and I Am Legend, respectively. The former held better than the latter, and Alvin scooped up $9.2 million, while I Am Legend earned $5.7 million. After six weekends, the CGI rodent comedy has earned $198.6 million, and the Will Smith apocalyptic thriller has earned $248.3 million.

Atonement held onto the tenth place spot, earning a $5.7 million in the holiday weekend after its Golden Globe win for Best Picture. Helped by its expansion into 1,291 theaters, Atonement increased 13% over the three-day weekend, and it earned a $3,687 per theater average. The period piece has been a great performer for Focus Features, and it will have no trouble breaking $50 million in the weeks to come. If it wins some Oscars (that is, if there are any Oscars this year…) it could go very far.
The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything managed to hang on to a spot in the Top 12 this weekend, earning $3.6 million over four days. The entirely overlooked Universal release from the VeggieTales has grossed a tiny $8.5 million after two weekends.
Providing a nice surprise at the end of the Top 12, There Will Be Blood earned $3.5 million. The Paramount Vantage film has received lots of awards attention for Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance, and with a strong $7,416 per theater average, it should be around for a good while. Thus far, in just 260 theaters, it has earned a very encouraging $8.6 million.

Top 12 for January 18-21

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 Cloverfield $46,037,000 $46,037,000
2 27 Dresses $27,270,000 $27,270,000
3 The Bucket List $16,110,000 $43,669,000
4 Juno $12,000,000 $87,125,533
5 First Sunday $9,400,000 $30,066,000
6 Nation Treasure: Book of Secrets $9,359,000 $199,242,000
7 Mad Money $9,200,000 $9,200,000
8 Alvin and the Chipmunks $9,200,000 $198,580,181
9 I Am Legend $5,715,000 $248,292,000
10 Atonement $5,690,199 $32,815,005
11 The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything $3,631,400 $8,518,310
12 There Will Be Blood $3,541,000 $8,575,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Three-Day Estimates: Cloverfield Stomps All Over Competition

January 20, 2008

     One of the most important things for a box office analyst to be able to do is recognize when the movie business is changing.  Sometimes, films just don’t behave the way you think they’re going to, and you must realize that the traditional box office behavior of yesteryear may no longer apply.  This seems to be the case with January.  With fantastic performances from Cloverfield, 27 Dresses, and The Bucket List (one of the films which I egregiously underestimated this weekend), January has become a totally viable month for studios to release big titles, leaving poor September as the worst month of the year.  This weekend proves that with solid marketing and a catchy concept, a movie can open well at any time of the year.  Fueled primarily by Cloverfield‘s record breaking opening (highest ever in January!), this year’s three-day weekend was huge, blowing past 2007’s grosses.  Check back in tomorrow for the four-day weekend analysis.

Three-Day Estimates for January 18-20
1. Cloverfield – $41 million
2. 27 Dresses – $22.4 million
3. The Bucket List – $15.2 million
4. Juno – $10.3 million
5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $8.1 million
6. First Sunday – $7.8 million
7. Mad Money – $7.7 million
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $7 million
9. I Am Legend – $5.1 million
10. Atonement – $4.8 million
11. There Will Be Blood – $3.1 million
12. One Missed Call – $2.8 million
All numbers courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Friday Estimates: Cloverfield Has Monster Sized Box Office

January 19, 2008

     What month are we in again?  January?  Really?  Alright, but last time I checked, January was one of the worst months of the year in terms of box office.  With Cloverfield and 27 Dresses‘ fantastic opening day grosses, it looks like times must be really changing.  At least Mad Money is behaving normally…

     Cloverfield exploded onto the scene with an awesome $16.8 million on Friday.  Paramount’s experimental advertising campaign has paid off in a big way.  I’m expecting this one to be very frontloaded, so a 3.0 multiplier over four days could be in order.  Still, this would give Cloverfield an amazing $49 million over the holiday weekend.

     In the appropriate bridesmaid position on the chart, 27 Dresses will claim the second place position on the chart.  On Friday, the Katherine Heigl/James Marsden rom-com earned a delightful $7.7 million.  Just like opening Alvin and the Chipmunks against I Am Legend, Fox counter-programmed this film very well, and 27 Dresses should match my prediction of $27 million over the next three days.

     Way back in fifth place, Overture Films’ flagship title, Mad Money, got off to a disappointing start.  The lame comedy featuring Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes, and Queen Latifah (who only seems to find success as part of an ensemble) earned a meager $2.3 million on its first day, and it will only find about $7 million overall.

     The rest of the chart should behave pretty much as predicted, though with just $2.2 million yesterday, First Sunday is falling harder than expected.  The real surprise on the chart, though, comes from There Will Be Blood.  Hot on the heels of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Golden Globe win for Best Actor, the stunningly reviewed Paramount Vantage release popped in at twelfth place on Friday with $0.8 million.  In only 389 theaters, it could be looking at a strong $3 million weekend.
     Alright, tomorrow I’ll post some three-day estimates, but there won’t be any analysis.  Because of the four day weekend, the Weekend Fix will be up on Monday.  Have a great weekend!
Friday Estimates for January 18
1. Cloverfield – $16.8 million
2. 27 Dresses – $7.7 million
3. The Bucket List – $4.2 million
4. Juno – $3.1 million
5. Mad Money – $2.3 million
6. First Sunday – $2.2 million
7. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $2.1 million
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $1.6 million
9. I Am Legend – $1.4 million
10. Atonement – $1.3 million
11. One Missed Call – $890,000
12. There Will Be Blood – $820,000

Weekend Preview: Is Cloverfield The New Snakes On A Plane?

January 18, 2008

     Hey, fellow Box Office Junkies!  Sorry for the lack of posts this week- life’s been utterly crazy for the past few days, and I haven’t been able to update nearly as much as I’ve wanted to.  Luckily for you, though, everything is back on track today with this Weekend Preview.  I have to confess, because of the sheer amount of analysis that a certain monster movie has required me to do, I’m only going to be writing about the three new releases this week, but you can see my full Top 12 predictions at the end of the post.  Suffice it to say, January 2008 should remain very well ahead of January 2007 in this third weekend of the year.  Alright, let’s get started.
     Remember way back in 2006 when a little movie called Snakes On A Plane debuted?  You know, the one where Samuel L. Jackson yelled the famous line, “I have had it with these mother f***ing snakes on this mother f***ing plane!”  Greeted with an absolutely deafening amount of online buzz, from the moment Snakes On A Plane (Whoa- you can abbreviate with SOAP!) debuted its title, it had what seemed to be an endless legion of die-hard online fans who could not wait to see the movie as soon as it came out.  It was the first virally promoted film to take full advantage of the tech-savvy blogging community, as almost all the excitement and anticipation for SOAP came from the web.  Box office analysts were expecting a huge opening and a great box office total.  After all, we’d never seen a movie with this kind of online excitement behind it.

     Well, when SOAP finally debuted on August 18, 2006, analysts quickly realized that judging the movie’s potential success based on internet buzz was a mistake.  Snakes opened with a disappointing $15.2 million, and then went on to a totally underwhelming $34.5 million.  It was one of the biggest letdowns in recent history, based on the gigantic expectations.  How is this all relevant, you ask?  Well, the reason I bring this up now is that there is another film hitting screens today that has followed a very similar viral-crazed path of promotion: Cloverfield.
          The brain child of hotshot producer J.J. Abrams (the creator of the TV series Lost), Cloverfield is a super-secretive monster flick that’s been buzzed about since its very first trailer, which featured that glorious shot of the Statue of Liberty’s head falling onto the street in NYC.  Bloggers and fanboys have been raving for months anticipating the film, and awareness for Cloverfield is very high.  Judging by the apparent excitement on the web, it would seem that this mystery-monster-movie was poised to open with the kind of numbers that many people expected SOAP to start with.  But will it similarly disappoint?  I don’t think so, and here’s why:

     Cloverfield‘s marketing contains one essential ingredient that SOAP‘s lacked, and that is mystery!  People who went to see Snakes on a Plane got exactly what title said they would get: snakes on a plane.  Cloverfield, on the other hand, is totally mysterious.  What does this monster look like?  Is it anything like Godzilla?  How tall is it?  Does it get killed?  Does it destroy all of New York?  Why does it decapitate Lady Liberty?  Curiosity is going to drive a lot of people into the theaters this weekend, and it helps that Cloverfield is not so clearly a B-movie for geeks only.
     Also, Cloverfield is a proven formula with a slight tweak.  Special-effects-driven disaster movies have impressed time and time again at the box office (Jurassic ParkThe Day After Tomorrow, I Am Legend to name a few), and Cloverfield‘s slight tweak of a familiar story should keep the crowds coming.  Also setting this film apart is its unique photography style.  Supposedly captured entirely on the protagonists home video, Cloverfield takes a page out of The Blair Witch Project‘s book with a shaky cam style.  Some critics hate this, but most are praising the film for the freshness it brings to the table, and it’s getting some very good reviews.  Personally, I think the shaky cam can get a bit annoying (Paul Greengrass, can we just watch Jason Bourne fight sometimes?!), but I appreciate the stylistic chance that Cloverfield is taking with it.  All of this is to say that I think that Cloverfield‘s opening (and the second weekend drop) is going to be big.  Launching onto 3,411 theaters, Cloverfield might find about $39 million in three days, and $47 million over the extended weekend (because of MLK Day), easily giving it the #1 spot.

     The other big opener this weekend is Fox’s romantic comedy 27 Dresses, which should do some very solid business with women this weekend.  Starring Katherine Heigl, who’s hot off her debut in Knocked Up, and James Marsden, who actually isn’t the third wheel here, 27 Dresses tells the story of a woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times.  Just when it looks like her love life is hopeless, she suddenly finds herself falling in love with her own sister’s fiancee.  The story is a fresh one, and Fox, which has been pushing this film hard, has done a great job of selling the story.  It looks like the massive amounts of advertising should pay off.  Heigl, already popular with women because of her role on TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, proved her comedic chops with Knocked Up last summer, and while 27 Dresses is not pulling in anywhere near the kind of reviews that that movie received, her rising star should help the romantic comedy debut well.  James Marsden has never carried a movie as a leading man, so it will be interesting to see how he fares.  In March 2006, the Sarah Jessica Parker/Matthew McConaughey feature Failure To Launch debuted to $24.4 million on its way to a fantastic $88.7 million total, and it looks like 27 Dresses could surpass that performance.  Walking down the aisle in 3,057 theaters, 27 Dresses should earn about $27 million over the four-day weekend.

     And then we have Mad Money, the female heist film about robbing the Federal Reserve.   Proving that Hollywood doesn’t have any roles for older women, Mad Money stars Diane Keaton as a down-on-her-luck janitor at the Federal Reserve, who pairs up with sassy Queen Latifah and ditzy Katie Holmes to steal a huge load of cash that’s meant to be shredded up and recycled.  Critics are trashing the film (who would’ve thought that Katie Holmes could get an even more negative response for this than her role in Batman Begins?), calling it unfunny and implausible.  The excitement meter is very low for this one, and of the three leading ladies, only Keaton has any real drawing power.  The main problem for this film is that 27 Dresses will be the primary choice for women this weekend.  The aforementioned romantic comedy will provide direct competition for Mad Money, which is the first release for fledgling studio Overture Films.  Unfortunately, the young studio will probably be mad at how little money Mad Money makes.  Entering into 2,470 theaters, the female heist comedy might earn a small $8.5 million over the holiday weekend.
 
Predicted Top Twelve for January 18-21
1. Cloverfield – $47 million
2. 27 Dresses – $27 million
3. The Bucket List – $12.6 million
4. Juno – $11 million
5. First Sunday – $10.3 million
6. Mad Money – $8.5  million
7. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $6.7 million 
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $6.5 million
9. Atonement – $5 million
10. I Am Legend – $4.9 million
11. One Missed Call – $2.9 million
12. P.S. I Love You – $2.6 million