Monday, September 01, 2008

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: A Laboriously Long Weekend

What a wimpy way for such a powerhouse summer to end. Hollywood unleashed four wide releases and not a single one of them managed to connect with audiences. The most successful of the bunch is the Vin Diesel starring futuristic action flick, BABYLON A.D. but that only managed a second place finish, allowing Ben Stiller’s TROPIC THUNDER to top the charts for three consecutive weeks. How are we supposed to go back to school feeling so uninspired?

TROPIC THUNDER added over 120 screens this week to it’s already 3000+ count and saw its returns slack off only 29%. The film is essentially one week away from making good on its reported $90 million budget and that’s only from domestic returns. Its $11.5 million take was plenty to keep BABYLON A.D. from debuting on top. The latter finished in first on Friday but the narrow gap was not enough to hold on to the ultimate title come weekend’s end. BABYLON A.D. managed a fairly miniscule average and will come nowhere near recouping its $70 million budget. Producers, now would be a good time to sign Vin Diesel up for your next pic. I hear he comes at a crazy discounted rate.

The week’s other debuts were all fairly forgettable. The Don Cheadle Bourne-style thriller, TRAITOR, was the only one of the bunch to muster a respectable per screen average. Having opened on Wednesday ate into its weekend returns somewhat so it might have managed a potential fourth place finish but still, no better than that. DISASTER MOVIE lived up to its title, opening in seventh place. Perhaps the adolescent audiences that usually flock to these farces might finally have had enough. Let’s hope, shall we? And speaking of adolescents, did they all leave the country for the weekend? The teen raunch comedy, COLLEGE, didn’t come anywhere close to making the grade, opening in a pathetic 15th place.

Given the lack of performance of Hollywood’s newest offerings, I think it appropriate to celebrate longevity instead. In its seventh week of release, MAMMA MIA! actually saw its tally increase over last week, even after dropping over 350 screens. Woody Allen’s 40th feature, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA inched back into the Top 10 after narrowly missing out last week, coasting on a loss of less than 1%, scoring the highest per screen average in the Top 10. Below the Top 10, WALL-E added 370 screens late in the game and saw a 15% increase, for a grand total of $217 million. And of course, how can I address longevity without mentioning THE DARK KNIGHT? The film fell off a scant 17%, inched back up to third place and officially crossed the $500 million mark.

The art house offerings were pretty quiet this week, no doubt waiting to platform a number of awards contenders in the fall. ELEGY and TELL NO ONE continued to post impressive gains with slight expansions. HAMLET 2 however, failed to connect. Sure it increased over 280% this week after adding 1,494 screens but its per screen was barely over a grand. They should never have made a sequel.

NEXT WEEK: It should be another uneventful weekend. Hollywood only has one major release to unleash, the Nicolas Cage action flick, BANGKOK DANGEROUS. This should pretty much leave plenty of space for everyone to catch their summer favorites one last time.

No comments: