Archive for the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Category

DVD Sales: Marley And Me Is Top Dog

April 16, 2009

Here’s the latest DVD Sales Chart (along with my notes) from The-Numbers:

Best performer: Marley And Me

Pretty good, considering its still in theaters : Slumdog Millionaire

Disappointing: Seven Pounds

Epic failure: Bedtime Stories

Most impressive overall: Twilight

Top 30 Selling DVDs For The Week Ending April 5th
Rank Title Units this Week % Change Total Units Sales this Week Total Sales Weeks in Release
1 Marley and Me 1,525,236 -.-% 1,525,236 $28,232,118 $28,232,118 1
2 Slumdog Millionaire 842,388 -.-% 842,388 $14,168,966 $14,168,966 1
3 Twilight 643,955 -73.8% 6,671,770 $11,584,750 $119,904,586 2
4 Bolt 625,042 -56.3% 2,110,951 $11,188,189 $37,206,456 2
5 Seven Pounds 506,073 -.-% 506,073 $8,643,727 $8,643,727 1
6 Quantum of Solace 369,870 -69.5% 1,582,887 $6,526,393 $28,421,350 2
7 Bedtime Stories 220,854 -.-% 220,854 $3,773,887 $3,773,887 0
8 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa 196,298 16.6% 5,146,693 $1,866,657 $82,205,603 9
9 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 110,580 -7.3% 2,528,544 $1,768,174 $43,913,272 5
10 Pinocchio 100,208 -31.9% $1,702,534 493
11 Role Models 81,448 -34.3% 1,483,730 $1,383,802 $25,208,573 4
12 Australia 74,126 18.9% 1,215,361 $1,259,401 $20,469,975 5
13 High School Musical 3: Senior Year 70,923 -9.2% 2,688,883 $1,311,246 $48,058,005 7
14 Transporter 3 55,519 -34.8% 926,242 $963,177 $16,574,675 4
15 Eagle Eye 54,756 -.-% 2,083,282 $1,045,949 $36,591,766 14
16 Barbie Presents: Thumbelina 54,603 -47.4% 438,201 $654,690 $6,320,432 3
17 Kung Fu Panda 51,930 7.4% 8,124,579 $485,951 $124,618,208 21
18 Stuart Little 47,587 -.-% $404,014 468
19 Milk 45,757 5.9% 407,487 $800,290 $7,304,788 4
20 Punisher: War Zone, The 44,537 -40.7% 312,592 $868,721 $5,853,769 3
21 Madagascar 41,791 -23.7% $459,283 177
22 Fireproof 41,505 8.3% 1,440,120 $725,922 $24,872,521 10
23 Hannah Montana: Keeping it Real 39,961 -.-% 39,961 $559,054 $559,054 1
24 Cadillac Records 39,474 19.9% 240,989 $789,085 $4,622,370 4
25 South Park – The Complete Twelfth Season 38,283 -17.9% 229,359 $1,186,390 $7,107,835 4
26 The Venture Bros.: Season Three 36,758 -51.2% 112,127 $698,034 $2,129,292 2
27 WALL-E 36,126 -.-% 8,543,638 $657,547 $134,896,052 20
28 Body of Lies 31,355 -20.8% 913,342 $632,430 $17,457,403 7
29 Star Wars: The Clone Wars – A Galaxy Divided 30,200 -56.7% 99,922 $392,298 $1,297,987 2
30 Space Buddies 28,674 -.-% 1,831,265 $458,497 $27,574,735 9

5 Great (And 1 Terrible) Rags to Riches Stories

April 2, 2009 WidgetsI hinted that I might post what I think the worst movies to ever blaspheme the good name of hollywood, and that’s still coming. But I decided I would go a different route for my first official post, and write something in honor of the DVD release of Slumdog Millionaire, which came out yesterday. For those of you that haven’t seen it, what the hell is wrong with you? It won seven academy awards and has been almost unanimously praised (see 94% fresh, the other six percent clearly hate their mother).

But Slumdog is only the most recent film in the ‘Rags to Riches’ genre. Call it that, or the American Dream, or the Horatio Alger formula, either way it’s a story everybody loves to see: the downtrodden, S.O.L. hero breaks free from his barriers and finds happiness… Usually. The thing is, the Rags to Riches plot-line pervades many different other genres. Some of them are feel good comedies, others intense dramas, others lucrative crime heists. The bottom line is audiences love watching wealthy people pretend to be poor people who become wealthy people. Now that the economy has crapped out, I’d imagine these stories to become even more popular. I’ve compiled a list of some famous “Rags to Riches” movies, some that that you might not put in the category before.

Citizen Kane
It tops almost every ‘greatest movie list’ I’ve ever read, and yet I have a confession: I’ve never sat down and watched it all the way through. But it’s one of the most respected films of all time, and anybody completely unfamiliar with the story should change that.

Though, this certainly isn’t what you typically find in a Rags to Riches story. The film depicts the life of a Charles Foster Kane (played by the legendary Orson Welles), and a reporter trying to uncover the secrets of his past. Kane was born dirt poor, but came into mass wealth through a stroke of good luck, and grew to become a wildly successful businessman. Sounds great, yes?

Wrong. The film shows Kane’s lust for power and money eat at him as he pushes away those he loves and ends up dying alone, holding some snow-globe and talking about some flower. I won’t tell you what the flower means (though, how could you possibly not know?), but let’s just say the movie indicates Kane was only happy when he lived in poverty‚Ķ

The history behind Citizen Kane is fascinating as well. Many people claim it was a harsh parody of the life of William Randolph Hearst, a very wealthy media tycoon. Hearst himself offered 800,000 dollars to destroy all copies and the negative of the film, and when it was refused, ordered his newspapers to never mention it. Check out The Battle Over Citizen Kane, a great documentary about the issue. Or, use Wikipedia. I’m sure it’s there.

Of course, I’ll find a way to slip in any Disney references that I can. Hopefully you’ve seen this movie. It’s a state law in forty six of the fifty that you must see it to be considered an adult. The poor street rat who finds a genie and marries a princess? Definitely a Rags to Riches tale. Aladdin is a noble hero, however, and never succumbs to greed. He doesn’t touch a single treasure in the cave of wonders (but his dumb ass monkey does) and he doesn’t wish to be a prince at the end; he frees the genie. It’s a moving example of sacrifice, except, why not wish to be a Prince and have Jasmine wish for Genie’s freedom? Loopholes, Al, gotta find them.

To be fair, Disney’s Cinderella is also a fine demonstration of the motif. But despite a love for Walt Disney, I’m still a dude, and Aladdin is certainly more fitting my gender.

The Pursuit of Happyness
This movie is not so much a ‘Rags to Riches’ tale as it is a ‘watch Will Smith get kicked in the crotch over and over again, but it’s okay in the end, cause he’s got money’ tale. This movie features some of Smith’s best acting since Fresh Prince, and he didn’t even rap the theme song. He plays Chris Gardner, a man whose wife leaves him with what little money he has, and he decides to change his life and sign up for an six-month internship at a stock brokerage with the possibility of getting a job once it’s over. But wait, the internship is unpaid, leaving him with no salary, and eventually, no home.

There’s a particular poignant scene, where Gardner convinces his son to play caveman and they have to find a cave to sleep in. The cave they find is a bathroom at a subway station, and Gardner weeps while he holds his sleeping son. Things don’t look great until the end. When he becomes a billionaire. Bet that stupid wife regrets her decision now.

The Count of Monte Cristo
Pick any of the six thousand versions of this film you’d like. I choose the most recent, starring Jim Cavizel and Guy Pearce, primarily because it’s the only one I’ve seen, but it’s a good one. An up and coming sailor named Edmond Dantes is betrayed by his immensely rich aristocratic friend, Fernand Mondego. Why? “Because you’re the son of a clerk! And I’m not supposed to want to be you!”

Locked up in what looks like the shittiest dungeon to be imprisoned in, ever, Dantes has the fortune of meeting an old man who, in a failed escape attempt, digs a tunnel into his cell (gotta love 19th century literary coincidences). They plan a new escape, all while the old man, Priest (played by the late, magnificent Richard Harris), teaches Dantes in manners of education, Philosophy, and how to be a bad ass with a sword. He also reveals to him that he knows the hiding place of a vast amount of treasure.

The movie is only loosely based on the novel (for starters, Mondego and Dantes don’t know each other in the latter), but it does a fine job of modernizing the story. We see Dantes use his wealth to gain respect in a society that only respects wealth, and take vengeance on those who wronged him. It’s at the end when he realizes his thirst for revenge has harmed him, and he vows that his riches will only be used for good.

Fool’s Gold
Hey, here’s a good example of this type of story gone wrong. A treasure explorer goes on a hunt for treasure with his hot ex-girlfriend, and the audience wants to scratch their own eyes out. I actually looked forward to this, since How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is arguably the best chick flick around. It turns out, Matthew Mcconaughey and Kate Hudson cashed in all the chemistry they had for the first go-around. Spoiler, they find the treasure, but who gives a damn?

Yeah, Kate Hudson’s hot, and yes, Mcconaughey could grate cheese on his abs, but when that’s the entire movies selling point, it’s bound to be terrible.

Slumdog Millionaire
The movie of the hour…er, the year, I suppose. I could sing its praises all day, but why not just go to any place that reviews movies and read up on it? It has humor, heart, drama, romance, and an Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (or as it’s pronounced in the movie… Mill-un-air). (Spoiler, but again, why the hell haven’t you already seen it?) The last scene, where two brothers are surrounded by cash, but only one has achieved what he ever wanted (hint: it’s not money), is a perfect example of why I love movies. The way it’s shot, the emotion conveyed, the message it sends; it’s all great.

Clearly there’s a huge appeal for these movies, or they wouldn’t keep getting made. Something in our human minds just loves watching people earn what they deserve. As Latika explains in Slumdog, Rags to Riches stories offer an escape from the hardships of everyday life. But I think there’s a common thing besides money in these stories. Charles Kane had immense wealth and dreamed of a time when he was poor. Jamal went from piss broke to filthy rich in twenty seconds, and really didn’t care about it. All he wanted was to find the woman he loved.

I almost listed It’s A Wonderful Life here, but because it’s not technically a story about gathering wealth, I decided to mention it here as an example of what makes life wonderful, and what makes men rich. The final inscription, “He is no failure that has friends,” demonstrates the moral that all these types of stories try to tell us.

When times get tough, it’s nice to remember what matters most. These movies where people change their status remind us that real wealth doesn’t come from being wealthy. It’s the princess Jasmine, the Latika, the Mercedes (Edmond Dantes wife, not the car…), the Priests, the Genies, your son that you’d sacrifice everything for and the childhood memories you have of sledding on a winters day; there are your riches.

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

I’m So Over The Oscars.

January 22, 2009

If you read The Box Office Junkie, you know I despise the Academy Awards, but I’m a film blogger, and I feel obligated to post these. The most boring, stilted, pretentious, fickle, unreasonably admired awards show of all of time just released their 2009 nominations. Of course, fan favorites The Dark Knight and Wall-E were shunned from the Best Picture race because they were released in the summer and actually appeal to large audiences. Instead, we get The Reader?! Ugh. Here are the nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards, announced this morning: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Best Picture
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Reader”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “Doubt”
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis, “Doubt”
Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”

David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”
Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Check here for a full list of nominations. Gosh, the Academy sure is in love with Benjamin Button… The only parts of this entire list that makes me happy is the fact Slumdog Millionaire is being recognized and that Robert Downey Jr. got nominated for his work in the uproarious Tropic Thunder. I’m pretty angry that Wall-E did not get the Best Picture nomination it deserved. Being stuck down in the Best Animated Picture category is a slap in the face to the beautiful, flawless film.

Honestly, if the Oscars didn’t effect theatrical box office tremendously, I wouldn’t bother reporting on them at all. They are boring and completely out of touch with the collective consciousness. In their efforts to prove they have good taste, they look over any film that is remotely mainstream, which just isn’t fair and makes for a very uninteresting awards season. I truly don’t understand their mystique and appeal. They are the very last show in the whole awards season, and they nominate the exact same films that everyone else does! I will certainly not be tuning in. But what about you? Do you agree with me, or am I just a cynic? Anyone else over the Oscars?

Weekend Fix: 4-Day Weekend With Monday MLK Day Numbers

January 19, 2009

Here are the 4-day totals for the January 16-19 weekend. With a great variety of choices for American audiences, Martin Luther King Weekend proved to be one of the most lucrative weekends in the history of the box office, as the top eight films each grossed at least $10 million over the 4-day frame. You can read the full analysis of the 3-day weekend here.

Top 12 For January 16-19
# Movie Title 4-Day Gross 3-Day % Change 4-Day
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $38,000,000 $12,086 $38,000,000
2 Gran Torino $26,000,000 – 24.6% $8,748 $77,000,000
3 My Bloody Valentine 3D $24,240,000 $9,565 $24,240,000
4 Notorious $24,000,000 $14,652 $24,000,000
5 Hotel for Dogs $22,500,000 $6,878 $22,500,000
6 Bride Wars $14,025,000 – 44.2% $4,344 $39,852,125
7 The Unborn $10,992,940 – 50.3% $4,660 $34,232,095
8 Defiance $10,700,000 +13401% $5,980 $11,041,000
9 Marley & Me $7,450,000 – 44.5% $2,523 $133,859,283
10 Slumdog Millionaire $7,150,000 + 56.0% $12,285 $43,987,205
11 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $6,603,000 – 39.2% $2,970 $103,628,000
12 Bedtime Stories $6,084,000 – 44.9% $2,323 $104,989,000
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

Weekend Fix: At The Box Office, Dogs May Be The New Penguins, But Fat Guys Are The New Will Smiths!

January 18, 2009

What a crazy world we live in! Even before we’ve gotten to the Monday of MLK weekend, the 3-day frame was one of the 10 biggest weekends in the history of the box office! The Top 12 films grossed a fantastic $170 million, increasing a whopping 29% over last year! This is shocking for January, but really cool! There’s so much to talk about! Here’s my rundown of each film:

Paul Blart: Mall Cop – Sony – $33.8 million – $10,751 per theater average
Fat Man #1. This opening is the second highest January opening of all time, behind 2008’s Cloverfield ($40 M). Maybe after Kevin James starred with Will Smith in 2005’s Hitch, and with Adam Sandler in 2007’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, he’s garnered some of their box office drawing power, because this debut is just huge, and it still has MLK day tomorrow to rake in the big bucks! Mark this off as a huge success for both James as a leading actor and Sandler as a producer. Paul Blart: Mall Cop was benefited by its strong advertising campaign, and the relatively low comedic expectations of moviegoers. (Though I will confess that I sounded a bit pretentious in my Weekend Preview.) In these recessionary times, it looks like no one wants to think too hard when they go to the movies. Welcome to The Era Of Easy Entertainment! (EEE)

Gran Torino – Warner Brothers – $22.2 million – $7,481 PTA

Clint Eastwood continues to draw in audiences, who have really found a strong connection to the film. Due to the holiday on Monday, the film saw a very soft 24% decline, and with a $73 million total and a great venue average after two weekends in wide release, Gran Torino is headed for at least $130 million. A much needed return to profitability for the director, after Flags Of Our Fathers ($33 M), Letters From Iwo Jima ($13 M), and Changeling ($35 M).

My Bloody Valentine: 3D – Lionsgate – $21.9 million – $8,642 PTA
Shame on you, Supernatural fans! According to my calculations, there are still about 1.5 million of you who did not go see your beloved Jensen Ackles this weekend on the big screen! I thought you were the most dedicated fans of any TV show, like, EVER. Still, enough of you came out for the 3D slasher flick to have a pretty solid opening of $21.9 million, further proving that horror is back on the map and in perfectly good shape. Come 2010, audiences will probably be tired of it again, so studios, cash in while you can! MBV:3D has already revealed some of its frontloadedness, since its Friday numbers were higher than Saturday’s, but I expect that this will have slightly better legs than most other horror films, due to its good reviews.

Notorious – Fox Searchlight – $21.5 million – $13,126 PTA
Fat Man #2. This is truly the surprise of the weekend! Admittedly, I’m a former prep school kid from southern Virginia, who grew up more in the time of Eminem than B.I.G., so maybe I’m a bit out of touch with the hip hop legend’s drawing power, but I think even Fox Searchlight has to be unbelievably surprised with how well Notorious performed. It’s sizzling venue average is nothing short of amazing, and although it only played in 1,638 theaters, audiences turned out in huge crowds to see the biopic. Like most other films marketed to urban audiences, though, this one will be a victim of frontloadedness. Even with the holiday weekend effect, Notorious still came up with an internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.55, which is pretty low, so I’m expecting this to fall pretty quickly. Not that that matters, though! Notorious has already made its mark, and I’m sure it’s already covered its production budget, so it’s all gravy at this point. I bet somewhere, a Tupac movie just got the greenlight…

Hotel For Dogs – Paramount – $17.7 million – $5,413 PTA
This is the fourth successful dog release in the last four months. In October there was Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($94 M). In November there was Bolt ($105 M). And in December there was Marley And Me ($132 M so far). Emma Roberts has redeemed herself after the lackluster performance of last year’s Nancy Drew ($22 M), and even with a lower venue average, Hotel For Dogs will probably go further than both Notorious and My Bloody Valentine: 3D, due to its family friendly nature. But let me talk for just a second about dogs. I’m going to be honest: I’m a little put off by the rise of dogs in society lately. I mean, they’re cute and fluffy, and I love them as pets as much as anyone else, but I think that people are starting to think that dogs are humans. Between the rising numbers of clothing stores for canines, the onslaught of ASPCA commercials, the intensity of the anti-fur movement, their sudden box office viability, and the constant talks of “animal rights,” and I just have to wonder whether people realize that we are, in fact, people, and dogs are, in fact, animals. Call me once every human in the world has rights. Then, I’ll start to worry about whether the dogs do. Rant over.

Bride Wars – Fox – $11.8 million – $3,640 PTA
I still don’t feel like talking about this film, but I’ve got it to give it credit for its good box office run thus far. It’s the girl version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and it’s probably headed for a $60-65 million finish. Like I said, welcome to EEE!

The Unborn – Universal – $9.8 million – $4,175
I know it was aided by the holiday weekend effect, but a 50% drop is pretty good for a horror film in its second weekend opening against another frightfest. With $33 million so far, this is a huge victory for Universal, who solidly advertised the film. You know, I’m seeing a trend here, Hollywood: If you believe in the films you put out and advertise them effectively, they do well at the box office! Weird, huh?

Defiance – Paramount Vantage – $9.2 million – $5,146
Okay, I’m saying it now. Outside of the Bond franchise, Daniel Craig is box office poison. The whole release kind of confuses me, actually. I heard almost nothing about this film, which cost a hefty $60 million, and after two weeks in very limited release, it failed to light up with moviegoers. Add in lackluster reviews, and you have a true misfire.

Slumdog Millionaire – Fox Searchlight – $5.9 million – $10,137 PTA
Seeing that my second-favorite film of 2008 just had an incredible 56% increase on the heels of its Golden Globes win erases any of the malice I was feeling towards Paul Blart and Bride Wars. There is hope for audiences yet! It really is quite amazing that in its tenth week of release, Slumdog Millionaire still has a per theater average of $10,137, the second highest in the Top 12. If this gets the Oscar for Best Picture (and it’s looking more and more like it will), we could be looking at a $100 million earner here!

The Rest Of ‘Em
You don’t really need to hear me talk about Marley And Me, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, and Bedtime Stories anymore, do you? It’s hard to believe that they came out just 25 days ago, because I feel like Ive been talking about them for forever! Suffice it to say, they were all solid performers of the Christmas season that kicked off what could be a historic winter at the box office. The full 3-day weekend numbers are below:

Top 12 For January 16-18
# Movie Title 3-Day Gross % Change AVG. Total
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $33,800,000 New $10,751 $33,800,000
2 Gran Torino $22,235,000 – 24.6% $7,481 $73,232,000
3 My Bloody Valentine 3D $21,900,000 New $8,642 $21,900,000
4 Notorious $21,500,000 New $13,126 $21,500,000
5 Hotel for Dogs $17,707,000 New $5,413 $17,707,000
6 Bride Wars $11,750,000 – 44.2% $3,640 $37,577,125
7 The Unborn $9,848,825 – 50.3% $4,175 $33,087,980
8 Defiance $9,206,000 +13401% $5,146 $9,547,000
9 Marley & Me $6,325,000 – 44.5% $2,143 $132,734,283
10 Slumdog Millionaire $5,900,000 + 56.0% $10,137 $42,737,205
11 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $5,599,000 – 39.2% $2,519 $102,624,000
12 Bedtime Stories $4,848,000 – 44.9% $1,851 $103,753,000
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

For the record, at the end of the day, I’m okay with Paul Blart: Mall Cop being on top of the charts. It isn’t going to kill me, and hey, I might even chuckle once or twice if I watched it. You know, my little sister, who’s six years old, loves slapstick comedy. She’s as sweet as a peach, but if I stub my toe or poke my eye or trip and fall, the girl can not contain her laughter! So who am I to say that Blart isn’t comedy?! It’s not comedy that I necessarily want to see, but I’m not about to totally discount the collective consciousness. Now let’s hear what you think about the weekend!

Oscar Bait Roundup + Golden Globes Effect

January 13, 2009

The Golden Globes were last night, and as I’m sure you have already heard, the evening undoubtedly belonged to Fox Searchlight’s Slumdog Millionaire, which picked up the fimmaker’s trifecta of awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. The other big story was Kate Winslet, who nabbed the trophies for both Best Actress and Best Suppoting Actress, for Revolutionary Road and The Reader, respectively. For Best Actor, comeback kid Mickey Rourke was awarded for The Wrestler. Also, Wall-E won Best Animated Picture, which is kind of a backhanded compliment, considering it’s good enough to be Best Picture, without the “animated” stipulation… But anyone could tell you the winners of the night- let’s get to the main point of this post: How will the Golden Globes victories affect the box office performance and Oscar chances of the Oscar bait films?

As you can see below, all of the winners in the Comedy/Musical categories are no longer playing theaters, so they won’t be included in this discussion. I’ll post a list of the winners at the bottom, but first, let’s analyze film by film:

Gran Torino – With a $29 million weekend, Clint Eastwood doesn’t need to worry too much about the fact that he didn’t win any awards. Reviews aren’t really good enough to merit huge Oscar attention, but with a massive $10,000+ venue average, it’s well on its way to $100 million.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – It fell 49% this weekend, and with no major award victories, it will probably continue its descent. Still, it’s made $94 million, and $125 million seems like a likely final total. With or without an Oscar, this is a major financial success for Paramount.

Slumdog Millionaire – I gush about this film enough, as it is, so I’ll keep this short. After $34 million worth of great word-of-mouth and three Golden Globes, Fox Searchlight would be fools to not expand this in the very near future. It’s $6,206 per theater average (in its ninth week!) is strong enough to sustain an expansion, especially with the free advertising that comes from the Golden Globes.

Doubt – It’s banked a surprisingly good $22 million, but it’s $1,945 average isn’t great, and without much awards attention, I doubt it will make it past $30 million.

Revolutionary Road – Could the picture that’s so depressing it’s nigh-unmarketable turn into a success? The awards recognition will certainly help, but the reality is, this is not a story that many people are excited to see on the big screen- they go to see the acting. While it’s $10,667 per theater average looks great on paper, keep in mind that Gran Torino basically matched it, and that film is two weeks older and playing in 20 times as many theaters! Road probably won’t make it past $15 million.

The Reader – This film has more to gain than any other after the Golden Globes, because it hasn’t exactly been blowing up in the last few weekends, and mediocre reviews probably aren’t helping. Out in 507 theaters, it ony managed a $1.3 million weekend, which gave it a fairly poor $2,667 venue average. Weinstein needs to sell the Kate Winslet full force and hope for the best.

Milk – I continues to plug along rather steadily, and it’s earned a pretty good $19 million thus far, but Slumdog Millionaire has really taken away it’s Oscar mojo. If it can manage to pick up an Oscar or two, it might have a chance yet, but it’s momentum is definitely slowing down.

Frost/Nixon – It’s still doing alright, but it’s hardly the flashiest title of the bunch. With $7.6 million so far, it should be able to hit $15 million overall. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

The Wrestler – Mickey Rourke’s Golden Globes win should give this the much needed exposure it needs in order to continue expanding. It’s got a nice venue average right now and about $3 million already, and if Fox Searchlight can play their cards right, they could be looking at a modest hit here. At least $10 million seems likely.

Here are the winners (full list here), with numbers below:

2009 Golden Globe Winners In Film

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director
Danny Boyle –
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy – Slumdog Millionaire

Best Actress – Drama
Kate Winslet –
Revolutionary Road

Best Actor – Drama
Mickey Rourke –
The Wrestler

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy
Sally Hawkins –
Happy Go Lucky

Best Actor – Musical or Comedy
Colin Farrell – In Bruges

Best Supporting Actress
Kate Winslet – The Reader

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

Here are the numbers:

Oscar-Seeking Titles for January 9-11 2009
# Movie Title Wk
3-Day Gross
Change Theaters
1 Gran Torino 5 $29,025,000 +888.4% 2,808
$10,337 $40,065,000 75%
5 The Curious Case
Of Benjamin Button
3 $9,450,000 -49.4% 2,947 (-41) $3,207 $94,330,000 72%
11 Slumdog Millionaire 9 $3,730,000 -20.5% 601 (-11) $6,206 $34,075,000 94%
14 Doubt 5 $2,503,000 -49.9% 1,287 (-) $1,945 $22,941,000 76%
16 Revolutionary Road 3 $1,440,000 +46.1% 135 (+97) $10,667 $3,170,000 67%
17 The Reader 5 $1,352,000 -15.4% 507 (+109) $2,667 $5,516,000 60%
19 Milk 7 $1,251,000 -33.8% 295 (-14) $4,241 $19,125,000 92%
20 Frost/Nixon 6 $912,000 -34.9% 205 (-) $4,449 $7,652,000 90%
21 The Wrestler 4 $874,000 +99.6% 60 (+42) $14,567 $2,848,000 98%
26 Rachel Getting Married 15 $179,805 +7.9% 98 (+31) $1,873 $10,379,000 87%
All Numbers Courtesy Of Exhibitor Relations

Fox Searchlight Has Audiences And Oscar Voters Wrapped Around Their Finger

January 10, 2009

I’ve never tried to hide my love of the Walt Disney company. They are without a doubt, better than any other studio at marketing entertainment (Prince Caspian not included…) to their target audience of kids and parents. In this pursuit, no one can touch Disney. But when it comes to marketing quality movies to Oscar voters and film snobs, a different studio takes the podium. Fox Searchlight is second to none. For the past few years, they have been mastering a formula that takes small, artsy films and transforms them into solid box office performers. Slumdog Millionaire has already banked $31 million, and it’s got a lot more on the way. The Wrestler is currently sitting with $2 million out of just 18 theaters, and expansion is inevitable. Both films are garnering major awards attention, but Fox Searchlight isn’t rushing either of them into wide release just yet. Historically, that’s not what they do.

No, the studio prefers to take it time, letting their films build up some major buzz and steam, and gradually increasing the theater counts. Actually, this is a trend that has only developed in the last five years, but Fox Searchlight has quickly discovered that if they properly pace the release of their films, they can maximize both their box office and their Oscar potential. Remember, no matter how pretentious and “cultured” the Academy Awards become, box office absolutely matters for the nominated films, and Fox Searchlight is no stranger to having their films nominated for Best Picture. In 2004, Fox Searchlight helped Sideways earn $71 million. In 2006, they pushed Little Miss Sunshine to $60 million. And in 2007, they pulled off the incredible feat of getting Juno all the way to $143 million. Keep in mind, we have here one film about wine tasting, another about a dysfunctional family traveling to a child’s beauty pagent, and then one about a pregnant teenager. In terms of marketability, The Dark Knight these are not, and the fact that they were box office successes speaks highly of their quality and their distributor.

At this point, you could easily say, “Well, Fox Searchlight is just getting lucky,” but I really don’t think that’s the case. Not only must they take chances on amazing scripts to produce, but they must go to festivals and purchase the titles they would like to distribute, and this studio is better than any other and picking artistic movies that audiences truly connect to. Between Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Bend It Like Beckham ($32 M), and Napoleon Dynamite ($44 M), if there was one word that could describe all of these, it would be “heart.” These are movies with characters that people want to root for. They are underdog stories with real emotion, and there is nothing more attractive to American audiences than a good come-from-behind hero. It works out well for Fox Searchlight because their movies are still artsy enough to garner major awards, but they don’t have the dour, often grim, tone of other Oscar bait films. Their films are more accessible than something like There Will Be Blood or Babel, and their box office reflects this.

But it’s not just the releases themselves that push these films to financial success, it’s the way they’re released. Fox Searchlight doesn’t rush their films into theaters, and their movies certainly don’t open with a bang and then fade quickly. The way they make money is more of a slow-burn. Fox Searchlight loves to keep their films in limited release for a while, before launching them into wider play. Sideways sat in limited release for a whopping 14 weekends before playing in over 1,000 theaters. Little Miss Sunshine played in limited release for four weekends, and Juno‘s theater count stayed low for three. Slumdog Millionaire hasn’t yet played in more than 614 theaters, and it’s been out for eight weeks. Why does this make sense? Well, by keeping these movies in limited release, Fox Searchlights assures that buzz will percolate and venue averages will remain high, which persuades other theater owners to want the film playing in their own theater. Thus, when the film is ready to expand, there are many people who want to play it. But Fox Searchlight doesn’t stop there. Once their films initially move into wide release, they often continue to expand into more and more theaters. In fact, Juno increased its theater count six weekends in a row! After that, it’s a long road of small drops on way to profitability and awards show success.

And now to end this veritable love letter to Fox Searchlight, a suggestion: Please put Slumdog Millionaire into wide release. Everyone that sees this movie loves it, it has already been a great box office performer, and it’s winning awards. It’s been in 600 theaters for long enough, and you should strike while the iron’s hot! Start increasing it’s theater count, and watch the money roll in. Honestly, I am not going to be satisfied until this awesome film grosses at least $75 million. But I’m sure you already know that and are planning a major expansion. Otherwise, I’m taking back everything I’ve written.

Now to you: Are you as impressed with Fox Searchlight as I am, or am I simply lovestruck by their last few Oscar-nominated films? Which of them is your favorite?