Archive for the ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ Category

Poll: Which 2009 Release Had The Most Surprisngly Awesome Box Office Run?

January 14, 2010

Let’s try something new: a poll!  Thursdays are the day of the week when I usually do a box office analysis article, and this week I’m answering a request from Rohan (sidenote: I’m reading The Two Towers right now, and I have a whole new appreciation for the word “Rohan”) to go take a look at the biggest box office surprises of 2009.  I’ve narrowed the choices down to seven, and believe it or not, Avatar is not included!  I wanted to showcase those films that exceeded expectations in a big way, so movies that everyone knew would be blockbusters aren’t really on the list.  Check below to read my seven cases as to why each movie deserves your vote, and then go ahead and vote in the poll!  If your ideal choice isn’t listed, then let me know what you think in the comments.  Can’t wait to see the results!

The Blind Side ($220 million so far)

Why it deserves your vote: Because the little $29 million feature opened very well against that  behemoth known as New Moon, earning $34 million in its opening weekend. After that, the feel-good movie showed some incredible legs over the holidays, earning a stunning $220 million, over 6.5 times as much as its opening weekend!  The crazy thing is, it’s still not done, either!

Star Trek ($257.7 million)
Why it deserves your vote: Sure, this flick had a big $150 million budget, but the Star Trek franchise was dead in the water when J.J. Abrams rebooted it.  The critical darling introduced this intergalactic adventure to a brand new generation, and earned a whole lot of money on the way!

Paranormal Activity ($107.9 million)
Why it deserves your vote: This independent horror movie was made for $15,000.  Yes, just $15,000.  After sitting on the shelf for years, Paramount decided to release the film in a few theaters.  Then they started an online marketing campaign.  Then the campaign went viral.  Then Paramount added it to a few more theaters.  Then it made a shocking amount of money. Then everyone started talking about it.  Then Paramount put it into wide release.  Then it killed Saw VI.  Then it broke $100 million.  Then it was declared an all-out phenomenon. 

Taken ($145 million)
Why it deserves your vote: Because it was a simple, $25 million action film starring Liam Neeson, who was hardly an A-list box office draw.  I’m sure Fox expected it to do some solid enough business, and then make a little bit extra on DVD, but they got way more than they bargained for. The film opened to a solid $24 million, and it connected with audiences in a huge way.  The thriller surprised everyone over the course of the next two months, dropping by tiny amounts on its way to $145 million.

The Hangover ($277.3 million)
Why it deserves your vote: Warner Brothers launched one of the biggest comedies of all time out of nothing.  No A-list stars, no huge budget, no family-friendly premise, no super-anticipatory buzz.  The R-rated comedy opened to a fantastic $44 million over the first weekend in June, and then chugged along all Summer on its way to $277 million.

Inglorious Basterds ($120.5 million)
Why it deserves your vote: Because it made a rather unsavory WWII story accessible to audiences, and actually gave The Weinstein Company a hit!

Paul Blart: Mall Cop ($146.3 million)
Why it deserves your vote: Because, against all odds, the wretchedly reviewed comedy somehow caught on with audiences, launching the Era Of Easy Entertainment in the process.  Who’d of thunk that this $26 million January release would become a box office star?

Go ahead and place your vote in the poll below:

Which 2009 Release Had The Most Surprisingly Great Box Office Run?(polls)

2009’s Biggest Box Office Star: Stupidity!

October 16, 2009

After five days and $43.1 million, someone add Couples Retreat to the list!  2009 has been called the Era Of Easy Entertainment by many great film scholars (well…. really, just me) because in the doldrums of one our country’s worst-ever recessions, the film industry, particularly the less intellectual section of it, is thriving.  With depressing news on our TVs, depressing pink slips on our desks, and depressing bills in our mailboxes, it appears that Americans are decidedly in the mood for something light and fun.  Movies that offer a respite from these harsh realities seem to be the antidote-of-choice for many sad Americans, and 2009 has seen dumb movie after dumb movie top the box office.

Now when I say “dumb,” I am not claiming that these movies shouldn’t exist, nor am I trying to act pretentious and snobby.  I am merely stating that there have been a huge number of generally poorly-reviewed, generally illogical and senseless movies that have succeeded at the box office this year.  These films typically don’t take themselves very seriously, and though many are comedies, there have been equally stupid and equally successful action flicks and thrillers as well.  Americans like not having to think very hard when they’re at the movies, and 2009 has been all about cinematic junk food! Let’s take a look at some of the top benefactors of the EEE:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $402.1 million

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – $179.9 million

Fast And Furious – $155.1 million

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra – $149.2 million

Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $146.3 million

G-Force – $118 million

The Ugly Truth – $88.9 million

Knowing – $80 million

Hotel For Dogs – $73 million

I Love You, Man – $71.4 million

Obsessed – $68.3 million

The Final Destination – $66 million

Bride Wars – $58.7 million

Tell me, how many of these titles are people going to remember in ten years?  Heck, it hasn’t even been ten months and I can barely remember Knowing!  The point is, the above movies are reaping the benefits of a stressed American populace, capitalizing on the desire for escapism of so many people. 

Fast And Furious Proves It Yet Again: The Era Of Easy Entertainment!

April 6, 2009

Okay, so by now, we’ve all let it process that Fast And Furious earned $70.9 million over its opening weekend! In April! The biggest April weekend of all time by $30 million dollars! Not since April 2003, when Anger Management had a $40 million weekend, has a film opened this big during the rainiest month of the year. It’s seriously amazing that Universal managed to get the third sequel of a “dying” franchise on the top of the charts. Take a look at what people were predicting:

Box Office Guru: $43 million
Slashfilm: $48 million
Box Office Prophets: $41 million
Box Office Report: $52 million
Entertainment Weekly: $41 million
The Box Office Junkie: $38 million

The closest prediction was a full $20 million off! Now, am I simply justifying my own ineptitude, as my prediction was the worst of any of those? Well, sort of. But more importantly, I’m using Fast And Furious‘ crazy $72.5 million weekend to justify my theory of 2009: The Era Of Easy Entertainment. I made this theory back in January, but with the success of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Taken, Knowing, and now Fast And Furious, the EEE has held true throughout the first part of the year. In the sour times of this recession, Americans clearly want to go the movies for the escapism they offer, and furthermore, when they attend the theater, the last thing people want to do is think too hard. Therefore, the titles that features gag humor, obvious plots, and lots and lots of explosions are going to succeed right now. Cinematic comfort food!

Weekend Fix: Paul Blart Gets Taken Down!

February 1, 2009

Hey guys, I’m down with some kind of flu and not feeling too great, and I want to be ready for the Super Bowl tonight, so there won’t be much analysis today. All you really need to know is that Taken had a great weekend ($24.5 million), The Uninvited ($10.5 M) and New In Town ($6.7 M) were relative disappointments, and something finally removed Paul Blart ($14 M) from the top spot. All is well in the world again. Here are the full weekend numbers:

WAIT! For some reason, I feel obligated to give Hotel For Dogs a shout out. After it’s so-so opening of $17.7 million a couple weeks back, it’s been a very solid performer, dropping just 27% last weekend, and 32 % this weekend, for a not-half-bad $48 million total. Okay, now, onto the weekend numbers:

Top 12 For January 30-February 1
# Movie Title 3-Day Gross % Change AVG. Total
1 Taken $24,625,000 New $7,736 $24,625,000
2 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $14,000,000 -35% $4,367 $83,375,000
3 The Uninvited $10,512,000 New $4,485 $10,512,000
4 Hotel For Dogs $8,706,000 -32% $2,755 $48,229,000
5 Gran Torino $8,600,000 -47% $2,852 $110,547,000
6 Slumdog Millionaire $7,680,000 -28% $4,703 $67,244,456
7 Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans $7,200,000 -65% $2,447 $32,784,000
8 New In Town $6,750,000 New $3,478 $6,750,000
9 My Bloody Valentine: 3D $4,260,000 -58% $3,030 $44,610,000
10 Inkheart $3,700,000 -51% $1,394 $12,792,000
11 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button $3,611,000 -41% $1,698 $116,540,000
12 Bride Wars $3,570,000 -48% $1,798 $53,936,587
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

What do you think about the weekend? Is Puffy Face (Renee Zellweger) in need of a major career revival? Have you seen Taken? And Lost fans, are you excited to see Maggie Grace (Shannon) find box office success with Taken? I know I am!

Friday Estimates: With $9.5 Million On Its First Day, Taken Will Take The Weekend

January 31, 2009

Friday turned out to be a pretty good day at the box office this weekend, and movies basically have tonight to keep making money, before their box office potential is slashed in half by Super Bowl Sunday. Based on Friday Estimates, though, Taken will easily run away as the weekend champ.

The Liam Neeson action picture, Taken, found a great $9.5 million on Friday, which was far and away the best on the chart. This debut establishes Liam Neeson as a viable box office draw, which is good, because I’m fairly certain that most people knew him as “that guy in a bunch of movies” and the voice of Aslan in the Narnia films. For the rest of the weekend, I’ll give Taken a pretty typical-for-Superbowl-Weekend multiplier of 2.5 and say it should end up with about $24 million for the frame.

The Uninvited opened to a fair $4.5 million on Friday. It’s a bit curious to me that this didn’t break out more, but I think that January’s recent glut of horror films at the cinema must have finally had an effect on the box office. Still, because of low production costs, this is hardly a flop, and it should be able to rake in $12 million over the three day weekend, good enough for 2nd or 3rd place, since Paul Blart: Mall Cop will be looking at a similar total. It will be intersting to see if The Uninvited has a smaller decline next weekend because of its Super Bowl lowered totals.

New In Town could only muster up $2.6 million of ticket sales, as it appears that people just aren’t excited to see Renee Zellweger in any kind of movie, especially one as bad as this. I’m telling you all, winning the Oscar for Best Actress is a box office death sentence. Give New In Town $7.5 million over the weekend. Here are the full Friday Estimates:

Friday Estimates For January 30, 2009
1. Taken – $9.5 million
2. The Uninvited – $4.5 million
3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $4 million
4. Gran Torino – $2.8 million
5. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – $2.6 million
6. New in Town – $2.6 million
7. Slumdog Millionaire – $2.25 million
8. Hotel For Dogs – $1.9 million
9. My Bloody Valentine 3-D – $1.5 million
10. Bride Wars – $1.2 million
11. The Wrestler – $1.1 million
12. Inkheart – $1.1 million

Weekend Preview: Can The Uninvited Take Down Taken On Super Bowl Weekend?

January 30, 2009


It’s Super Bowl Weekend this weekend, and in terms of the box office, that means it’s time for counter-programming. With every man in the U.S. glued to the sofa on Sunday, studios traditionally hope to release movies that will engage female viewers. But the curious thing about this year is that among the three new releases, it seems that the harder they target women, the less box office potential they have. Opening this week is the male oriented action film, Taken, a psycho-stepmom horror flick, The Uninvited, and a generic romantic comedy, New In Town. Strangely enough, as the subject matter gets girlier, the receipts should be lower.

The number one film this weekend will be Fox’s Taken, which is getting a huge release into 3,183 theaters. The film, which stars Liam Neeson, will have to make almost all of its money on Friday and Satruday, since the Super Bowl will absolutely obliterate ticket sales. Taken tells the story of a retired CIA agent, who must rescue his daughter and her friend when they are abducted in France. Besides Neeson, the film stars two beautiful actresses who have been written off popular TV shows, Maggie Grace (killed off of Lost) and Famke Jansen (her character left when she turned out to be a man on Nip/Tuck). Despite the lack of Sunday box office, awareness is pretty good for this one, advertising has been effective, and it’s got some fairly good reviews. All of this should lead to a nice $19 million weekend.

The only other newcomer competing for the top spot this weekend is The Uninvited, the latest in what has become a veritable parade of horror movies this January. The feature from Paramount stars Elizabth Banks as a woman who comes to tend to a sick father’s bedside. All of the sudden, though, the man’s wife has died, and he has become engaged to this younger woman. His daughters are creeped out by the new fling, and they set out to get to the bottom of what’s going on. It’s a mixture of a ghost story and a psychotic stepmom story. The advertising on this has been strong and highly effective, giving audiences a good idea of the plot. Also, with a PG-13 rating, and three central female characters, this seems like a horror release that is woman-friendly, which should help it a bit this weekend. For a movie of this genre, reviews aren’t bad, and earlier in January The Unborn, My Bloody Valentine: 3D, and Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans all managed to open in the $19-22 million range, and while the Super Bowl will take that dwn a notch, I don’t why audiences would have just suddenly gotten tired of horror again. Almost every other box office prediction is giving this an $11-12 million opening, but I think The Uninvited, which is flying into 2,344 theaters, is looking at $17 million over the weekend.

The final new release of the weekend is the only offering that is truly targeting women, but its prospects are still looking grim. New In Town is a romantic “comedy” from Lionsgate starring Puffy Face herself, Renee Zellweger, and Harry Connick Jr.. (I will admit that she looks a bit less “puffy” in this movie, so maybe she’s taking it easy on the botox…) The plot here is so thin that I won’t even go over it, but suffice it to say, it looks terrible. Like Bride Wars terrible. I’m pretty sure winning the Oscar for Best Actress is actually a curse that makes all of your following films extremely bad, because I don’t see why else Zellweger would sign on to this. I guess she just needs work like anyone else. Reviews are awful, it’s getting a release of 1,941 theaters, and there’s been minimal advertising for this stinker. Give New In Town $6.5 million for the frame.

Among holdovers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is still very much a force to be reckoned with. Since the Sandler-produced comedy is a film geared at young males, it will drop a bit harder this weekend, but a 45% drop will still give it $12 million for the weekend, and $80 million overall. Clint Eastwood’s box office stalwart, Gran Torino, will continue its great run, and a 40% drop will put the film at $10 million for the weekend and $111 total. Given the geek factor and the Super Bowl factor, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans should see a fanboy-style drop of about 60% to $8 million. Meanwhile, Slumdog Millionaire should continue its increible resilience as it expands into about 200 more theaters, which might give it a sweet 12th weekend of $8 million. Here’s my full forecast for the weekend:

Predicted Top 12 For January 30-February 1
1. Taken – $19 million
2. The Uninvited – $17 million
3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $12 million
4. Gran Torino – $10 million
5. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans – $8 million
6. Slumdog Millionaire – $8 million
7. Hotel For Dogs – $7.5 million
8. New In Town – $6.5 million
9. The Curious Case Of Benajmin Button – $4.5 million
10. My Bloody Valentine: 3D – $4.3 million
11. Bride Wars – $4 million
12. Inkheart – $3 million

What do you all think of my forecast? Does it make sense, or am I as hopeless as The Cardinals on Sunday? Let’s hear your predictions in the comments! Go Steelers!

Weekend Fix: Paul Blart Can’t. Be. Stopped.

January 26, 2009

Man, this week has really taken a toll on me, and I apologize for the lateness of this post. Basically, if you’re a fan of the box office, you’ve already read 20 different recaps of the weekend (unless my little operation of The Box Office Junkie really is your #1 box office source, in which case, I’m flattered!), so you can survive a week without my analysis. It’s been an especially hectic time right now (this is the same time I put my blog on hiatus last year), but I promise I’m sticking around for the long hall. Anyway, I don’t have time for a full post, so here’s the numbers, along with five observations:

1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the most popular thing since Obama.

2. R-rated movies are doing quite well right now. 7 of the Top 12 are rated R.

3. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans did fine. When you consider that it was originally intended as a straight-to-DVD feature, it did great.

4. Sorry, Inkheart. Reading still isn’t cool.

5. Slumdog Millionaire is the most popular thing since Paul Blart: Mall Cop. After 11 weekends, it still has the highest per theater average in the Top 12. It will easily surpass $100 million.

Top 12 For January 16-18
# Movie Title 3-Day Gross % Change AVG. Total
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $21,500,000 -32% $6,838 $64,800,000
2 Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans $20,700,000 New $7,036 $20,700,000
3 Gran Torino $15,985,000 -27% $5,250 $97,561,000
4 Hotel For Dogs $12,360,000 -27% $3,779 $36,955,000
5 Slumdog Millionaire $10,550,000 +80% $7,477 $55,915,616
6 My Bloody Valentine: 3D $10,050,000 -53% $3,966 $37,770,000
7 Inkheart $7,725,000 New $2,910 $7,725,000
8 Bride Wars $7,000,000 -40% $2,671 $48,702,264
9 The Curious Case Of Banjamin Button $6,000,000 8% $2,651 $111,044,000
10 Notorious $5,700,000 -72% $3,473 $31,794,846
11 Defiance $5,432,000 -39% $3,030 $18,329,000
12 Revolutionary Road $5,268,000 195% $4,979 $11,867,000
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

You know how it goes… Sound off in the comments!

Friday Estimates: Are Vampires Any Kind Of Match For Paul Blart?

January 24, 2009

The box office has come back down to Earth after last weekend’s record-breaking frame. Based on Friday estimates, there will be a battle for the top spot between newcomer Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and the unexpected smash hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The weekend’s other newcomer, Inkheart, didn’t fare so well, though.

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans opened to a Friday gross of $7.8 million, which represents a 26% decline from Underworld: Evolution‘s opening day gross of $10.6 million. The Kate Beckinsale-less film appears to have been hurt by her absence, and it should take in about $19-20 million over the weekend, which may be good enough for the number one spot. (This opening underlines how much of a phenomenon fellow vampire film Twilight really was. Rise Of The Lycans‘ opening weekend won’t even equal Twilight‘s opening day.)

The Brendan Fraser adventure film Inkheart wasn’t quite so fortunate, pulling in only a meager $2.4 million. This is a pretty terrible result, and Inkheart will join the ranks of The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising ($9 M), Pathfinder ($10 M), and City Of Ember ($11 M) as yet another fantasy-adventure film that audiences simply weren’t interested in. Give Inkheart a sad $7 million weekend. I guess this is what happens when you try to make a movie that tells the youth of 2009 to read more books…

Among holdovers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop pulled in $5.5 million on Friday (a 44% drop), which should lead the breakout comedy to a $18-19 million dollar weekend, which may be enough to top the charts for a second week in a row. Gran Torino continues to truck along, pulling in $4.3 million yesterday, which should give it a $14 million weekend. My Bloody Valentine: 3D fell 62% from last Friday to $3 million, and it should find about $9 million over the frame. Notorious utterly plummeted over the first day of this weekend, falling 70% to $2.3 million, which will give it $7-8 million over all. Hotel For Dogs, meanwhile, fell about 40% to $2.4 million, which should be good for a solid $10 million weekend.

The Oscar bait expansions performed pretty much in line with predictions. Slumdog Millionaire found a nice $2.7 million. Revolutionary Road grabbed $1.7 million. And audiences showed a general disinterest for Frost/Nixon, which found just $910,000. Here are the full Friday Estimates:

Friday Estimates For January 23, 2009
1. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans – $7.8 million
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $5.5 million
3. Gran Torino – $4.3 million
4. My Bloody Valentine: 3D – $3 million
5. Slumdog Millionaire – $2.7 million
6. Inkheart – $2.4 million
7. Hotel For Dogs – $2.4 million
8. Notorious – $2.3 million
9. Bride Wars – $2 million
10. Revolutionary Road – $1.7 million
11. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – $1.6 million
12. Defiance – $1.5 million
13. The Unborn – $1.4 million
18. Frost/Nixon – $910,000

Weekend Preview: Will Underworld Rise To The Top?

January 23, 2009

Sorry for the delay on this column! It won’t happen again! This weekend Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and Inkheart hit the big screen, while lots of Oscar bait like Slumdog Millionaire, Revolutionary Road, and Frost/Nixon have major expansions. All in all, it should be a busy weekend. Let’s get to some analysis:

The likely number one flick this weekend is Sony’s Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, the third film in the popular Underworld franchise, which pits vampires in an epic, ongoing battle with werewolves. Where this rivalry came from, I don’t know. Nor do I know about ninjas and pirates, for that matter; I guess there’s just not enough room in this world for too many fantastical characters at once… Despite the currently “in” subject matter, I’m not thinking that this is going to suddenly be another Twilight. Kate Beckinsale, the leading lady of the first two movies did not come back for Rise Of The Lycans, which will hurt its weekend gross some, and there is an extremely crowded marketplace. Underworld: Evolution opened to $26 million back in 2006, but with less star power and smaller theater count of 2,924 theaters, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans should see a softer $23 million this weekend.

The other new opener is Inkheart, yet another action-adventure-family film from Brendan Fraser, who seems to be reinventing his career around the genre. Inkheart, which is a story about stories in books coming to life, looks a heckuva lot like last year’s $100 million hit Journey To The Center Of The Earth, but it hasn’t had as much of an advertising push as that film did. Still Brendan Fraser has proved that he can draw in audiences (I mean, he actually got $100 million worth of people to go see the new Mummy picture!), so this should still have a somewhat solid debut. The Warner Brothers feature is hitting 2,655 theaters, and It should find $14 million over the frame.

Over in Oscar bait land, three films are moving into wide release. Slumdog Millionaire, which is all but a lock for Best Picture at this point, will add over 800 theaters this weekend for a total count of 1,411 theaters, which should lead to a solid $9.5 million. Revolutionary Road, the depressing Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio marriage film, is moving from limited release into 1,058, but it does not have the same playability as Slumdog. Remember, this is the EEE, and people don’t want to be sad! Give it $5 million over the weekend. Finally, Frost/Nixon, a film that should be thankful for the much-needed Oscar attention, will be expanding into 1,097 theaters. This movie is suffering from the fact that it jsut looks really boring. Give it $4 million over the weekend.

As far as last weekend’s openers, Notorious and My Bloody Valentine should fall hard, while Hotel For Dogs and Paul Blart: Mall Cop should see much smaller declines. Gran Torino will reamin a power player on the charts. Here are my predictions:

Predicted Top 12 for January 23-25
1. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans – $23 million
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $18 million
3. Gran Torino – $15 million
4. Inkheart – $14 million
5. Hotel For Dogs – $11 million
6. Slumdog Millionaire – $9.5 million
7. My Bloody Valentine: 3D – $9 million
8. Notorious – $8 million
9. Bride Wars – $6.5 million
10. Defiance – $5.5 million
11. Revolutionary Road – $5 million
12. The Unborn – $4.5 million

Welcome To The Era Of Easy Entertainment!

January 20, 2009

We’re in the middle of a huge economic recession, millions of people are out of work, the news is consistently depressing, the earth is apparently so polluted that a Wall-Eish future seems likely, we’re still fighting what seems to be a never-ending battle in the Middle East, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop just earned $39 million over four days in theaters. What is going on in the world, and why are all these terrible things happening at once? To be honest, I can’t really tell you anything about those first five- you’d have to ask a Washington insider about those. But when it comes to the issue of Paul Blart: Mall Cop raking in huge profits, let me offer up this explanation: In light of the economic, political, and social struggles that currently permeate our society, we have reached a new stage of culture: The Era of Easy Entertainment (EEE), where popular entertainment has become valued more as a distraction than an artform.

You see, it seems to me that in these tough times, the last thing people want in their lives is any more stress. And yes, if you’re wondering, there is a such thing as stressful entertainment. Over the last few years, movies centered on war have completely stalled at the box office. Even high profile releases like The Good German ($1.3 million), Flyboys ($13 M), The Great Raid ($10 M), and Flags Of Our Fathers ($33 M) have had trouble finding an audience. The best performing war-themed picture was 2005’s Jarhead ($62 M), but even that failed to live up to expectations. Still, if these films were to be released right now, I predict that they would do even worse at the box office than they did in their original theatrical runs. Why? Because people are tired of bad news! People are tired of war and fighting and not knowing what is going to happen next! And now, as the economic foundation of the country starts to crack, people are eager for something consistent and comforting. Where have they turned? To easy entertainment.

With exception of Nothing Like The Holidays ($7 M), every single comedy that has been released in the last two months has been a solid hit. Role Models earned $67 million. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa earned $178 million. Four Christmases earned $120 million. Bolt earned $113 million. Yes Man earned $93 million. Marley And Me has earned $134 million. Bedtime Stories has earned $105 million. Bride Wars has earned $40 million. And Paul Blart: Mall Cop opened to $39 million! The average T-Meter on RottenTomatoes for these films is 39%, so it’s not like these are just the best films out there right now. Yea some of them are great, and others are truly awful, but I think it’s more that right now, people just truly want to laugh and smile. Think about all the people who lined up in droves to go see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Don’t you think they knew that it wasn’t going to be a magnificently memorable work of art? What they did know was that it would be safe enough and fun enough to provide them with a pleasant distraction from the reality of life, if only for a couple hours.

But this trend isn’t just limited to film. Look at the general trends of television viewing this season. The sitcom, which many pronounced as “dead” a few years ago, is now back in full force. Shows like The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and 30 Rock have seen massive 35-45% increases in their viewership this season, despite network television ratings being universally down. And it’s not just comedy that makes up the EEE. No, some entertainment is just “easy,” like television’s number one new show, The Mentalist. The show does absolutely nothing to break the mold of a typical CBS procedural crime drama. It follows a very predictable formula each and every episode, and audiences aren’t complaining. In fact, because it requires so little thinking, and the mystery is always wrapped up by the end of each episode, it’s pulling in almost 19 million viewers every week. Shows like Lost or 24 should be glad they launched when they did, because they would never break out in 2009- they just require too much thinking, too much stress!

There’s no telling how long EEE will last. It is the reason that films like The Unborn and My Bloody Valentine: 3D have done so well lately. These are horror flicks, yes, but they are also proedictable and fun. It is the reason dogs are the hottest thing in Hollywood now. They don’t need to be able to act or speak- they’re cute and make people feel good. So long as people are worried about our failing economy, horror films and comedies and movies that advertise the fact that they are fun, will continue to thrive. Already, the box office is having an incredibly lucrative winter season because people have made it very clear that right now they don’t need a ton of drama- they want some simple comfort instead.