Saturday, February 14, 2009

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: For Love and Horror

You would never know there was an economic crisis going on if you just looked at this year’s box office results. For the second week in a row, the highest drop off was just over 30% and that wasn’t even for the critically lambasted PINK PANTHER 2. No, there was plenty to celebrate this weekend with Valentine’s Day falling on the biggest date night of the week and FRIDAY THE 13TH returning to theatres just in time to have the release day coincide with the film’s title.

When the original FRIDAY THE 13TH opened in 1980, it cumed about $6 million and went on to take in a total of just under $40 million. This was big back then. Oh how far we have come as this latest relaunch of a franchise has amassed more than that in just one weekend. I’m sure once you take inflation into consideration, the original still has a lead but it won’t for long. Not only did this new installment debut on Friday the 13th to the best opening day of the year, it also had the added benefit of coming out in time for Valentine’s Day. Horror and comedy are the top favorite genres of couple on dates so it is no shocker to see this kind of response.

Keeping that in mind, it is also no surprise to see last week’s champ, HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, hold on so strongly with just a 29% decline. In fact, its hold could account for the mediocre debut of CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC. The “Shopaholic” series by author, Sophie Kinsella, is immensely popular, much more so that the “He’s Just Not That Into You” book, but yet could not compete with the latter’s star power. Also, it might have hurt its chances given that spending irresponsibly is really not the direction the country is going in.

Tom Tykwer’s bid at the mainstream, THE INTERNATIONAL, had to settle for a 7th place start. Tykwer, famous for his cult classic, RUN LOLA RUN, put together a stylish thriller with top-notch actors (Clive Owen and Naomi Watts) but an overcomplicated plot bogged it down. Also, viewers might want to deal with the idea of corrupt banks just as much as foolish shopping habits. No, what viewers want these days is leftovers as both CORALINE and TAKEN saw declines under 10%. This kind of staying power is practically unheard of.

It’s the week before Oscar and all through the house, not creature was stirring except for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. The front-runner for Best Picture is the only one out of the five nominees to place in the Top 10 this year. Clearly people are clamoring to see it before the big event as they assume it will inevitably be crowned king dog. The rest of the nominees fall in the following order: THE READER ($2 million, down 10%), THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON ($1.6 million, down 30%), MILK ($816K, down 27.5%) and FROST/NIXON ($473K, down 39%). Meanwhile, Oscar hopeful in the Foreign Language category, THE CLASS, continued to play well in limited release, pulling in $222K, for an increase of 23.5% over last week.

NEXT WEEK: I highly recommend you catch up on your Oscar pics as there certainly isn’t anything worth seeing in first run. Well, if you like teen comedies about jocks joining the cheerleading squad to score, you could see FIRED UP. Or if you like men in grandmother drag placed in awkward scenarios, you could check out TYLER PERRY’S MADEA GOES TO JAIL. I told you you’d want to stay home.

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