Sunday, September 28, 2008


A few years back, a little known actor with a squeaky clean face headlined a remake of Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW for the MTV generation. The film was called DISTURBIA and it opened past all expectations to debut at number one and then stayed there for three consecutive weeks. Now, we all know how rare that is. The kid whose face drove hordes of young ladies into the theatres was Shia LaBeouf and before Steven Spielberg made LaBeouf his personal pet project, Dreamworks fast tracked another LaBeouf collaboration with DISTURBIA director, DJ Caruso. That movie was EAGLE EYE and it has finally made it to theatres. Only now LaBeouf is Hollywood’s hottest young actor so the question wasn’t whether they would be able to repeat the business DISTURBIA did. The question was how far it would beat it.

Just like DISTURBIA, EAGLE EYE surpassed expectations, surging to almost $30 million in its opening weekend, very high numbers for September standards. Reviews have been poor but since when did reviews stop anyone from enjoying their favorite eye candy. Longevity will prove LaBeouf’s staying power with this picture but a robust $8300 per screen average on 3500 screens is a great starting point.

Richard Gere and Diane Lane reteamed for the third time and proved that romantic audiences still crave more from this attractive, older couple. Adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel, NIGHTS IN RODANTHE may have pulled in less than half of what EAGLE EYE did but it held its own and found its audience. Whether that audience was able to find its way out of the auditorium with the tears in their eyes clouding their vision is another question altogether.

Here’s a question for you. What the heck is FIREPROOF? This little movie starring 80’s sitcom idol turned born again Christian, Kirk Cameron, not only managed to open on 800+ screens but it opened in third place on Friday to finish fourth for the weekend. It almost managed a higher per screen average than EAGLE EYE. Perhaps I’m a pretty ignorant but I never even heard of this movie before Friday. Given the poor reception it has received from critics and audiences alike, I probably won’t be hearing about it for much longer but a $6 million opening weekend for a movie that cost half a million to make is certainly commendable.

The week’s only other Top 10 debut was a disappointment for auteur director, Spike Lee. His WWII drama, MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA opened to under $3K per screen and lacks the critical praise that would encourage growth in the coming weeks. That’s what you get for making a bad movie, Spike. Seriously, it’s bad. It's got to hurt too that FIREPROOF did so much better on even less screens. Ouch. Sorry, O paid $40 to see this at the Toronto festival so I'm a little bitter.

On the artier side of the street, THE DUCHESS scored an excellent expansion. The Keira Knightly star vehicle added 48 screens and saw its business jump over 200%. APPALOOSA held up well in its second week with a solid $10K per screen but no screens were added yet so its gross still dipped. Things are sure to pick up next week when it goes wide. Two other high profile indie releases debuted to disappointing results. Well, one was disappointing; the other was disastrous. CHOKE, the Fox Searchlight hopeful starring Sam Rockwell, earned just over $3K per screen to debut outside the Top 10. And proving once again that American audiences are still not willing to face films about their war, THE LUCKY ONES, in which three soldiers take a road trip while on leave, made under $500 per screen on 425 screens.

NEXT WEEK: Holy crap, what isn’t coming out next weekend? To name just a few, BLINDNESS goes wide, FLASH OF GENIUS opens on 1000+, HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE will try to get people to like Simon Pegg and NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST finds Nick & Norah falling in love with each other while we fall in love with them. Oh wait, I almost forgot … the Bill Maher religion mockery, RELIGULOUS opens on Wednesday and goes wide on Friday, APPALOOSA takes the West to the masses and the Jonathan Demme masterpiece, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED dips its toes into 8 shallow pools.

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