Sunday, July 13, 2008


This weekend ushered in a rare occurrence at the North American box office. Hollywood decided to unleash three wide releases on the unsuspecting public all at once. Two at a time seems to be Hollywood’s healthy level of comfort. Either one will win or both will find their own audiences. But three? At the same time? Did they really think there was that much money to go around? Turns out, not so much. Two titles succeeded while one was forced to subside – which is a nice way to say that two scored while one flopped hard.

Pulling in over $10 million more in its opening weekend than its predecessor, HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY managed to narrowly squeeze out last week’s champ, HANCOCK. Critics across the board have embraced director, Guillermo del Toro’s follow-up to the Oscar winning, PAN'S LABYRINTH, and audiences followed, proving that the critic’s word is final. Meanwhile, proving that the critic’s word is meaningless, critically panned Hancock managed a very reasonable 47% decline in its second week. Had Sony not passed on the Hellboy sequel, it could have held down both of the top spots this week.

Sure on the surface, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH looks like a cheap way to wet the public’s appetite for more 3D projects and hardly a film that can sustain an engaging story but audiences ate it up anyway. Actually, critics did too. Mostly positive response led to a larger than expected debut in third place this week. And so the future looks bright for 3D thrills. The best part about all of this … the movie magicians have finally found a way to infuse Brandon Fraser with that last dimension his acting has always been lacking.

Now, on to the loser, Eddie Murphy in MEET DAVE. Posting his lowest numbers since THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH, Murphy flops in seventh place with a pathetic per screen average under $2K. You will get no sympathy from me, Mr. Murphy. This is what you deserve for signing on to make a project where you are the captain of a teeny tiny alien ship that crashes on earth into the body of a human version of yourself. In fact, I think you should be happy to have made as much as you did. Now, I don’t want to see you again until they revive the BEVERLY HILLS COP series. Are we clear?

All this success and all this over crowding should have meant a strong overall showing at the box office but ultimately ticket sales were down 17% over the same frame last year. In this case, more certainly did not amount to more.

NEXT WEEK: I think it’s fairly obvious to anyone with half a monkey brain that SPACE CHIMPS will take next weekend by storm. I mean, maybe MAMMA MIA! might manage a strong second place finish if the counter-programming angle works in their favour. What other options are there anyway? There’s that bat movie, THE DARK KNIGHT, but who wants to see that? Wait. This just in … EVERYONE wants to see that little bat movie.

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