Sunday, March 15, 2009

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Race to Watchmen Mountain

No one considered the race to be much of one with any actual contest. WATCHMEN may have had a sturdy but not epic debut last week but certainly no one expected the spring’s most anticipated film to fall off by nearly 70% in its second week. And so RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, a film I can’t imagine anyone was anticipating on any level whatsoever, was able to finish with a surprising first place. More embarrassing still, the race wasn’t even close.

Disney’s pursuit of fusing amusement park rides with big adventure movies in order to drive business back and forth between the two continued this weekend with RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. With no other family fare in sight, save for CORALINE, which held up well despite the fresh competition, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was able to get those little space alien kids back to their home planet on top of the big, scary mountain (I didn’t actually see the movie so I’m guessing here) and give Disney a solid opening. The week’s other debuts went from decent (THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) to embarrassingly bad (MISS MARCH). Well, MISS MARCH’s box office returns are proportionate to the intelligence of the premise so maybe it isn’t as embarrassing as it is appropriate.

Now, I have to get back to WATCHMEN. Warner Brothers is claiming that the 67% drop falls completely in line with other event pictures. They are right about that. After all, it only ranks 89th in terms of overall largest second week drops isn’t nearly as steep as the 80% plummet posted by FRIDAY THE 13TH last month. Still, I imagine they must have been making this statement through ground teeth. This was supposed to be a blockbuster and now it looks like it may go on to make as much as a movie about a mall cop. Where were the devout fans that have been supposedly waiting for years for this film to hit? Not only did they not show up in hordes (or in costume) for the premiere but those who did didn’t even care to see it a second time this weekend. It is all very un-geek-like.

And speaking of unexpected, a little female-skewed indie comedy starring Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, managed a debut per screen average of over $53K. SUNSHINE CLEANING, distributed by Overture pictures, opened on just four screens but brought in the highest per screen average of any film this year. The pic expands to 50 screens next week.

Overall, the box office was down 17% over last year, the first decline it has seen all year.

NEXT WEEK: Nicolas Cage knows too much (for a change) in THE KNOWING (3000+ screens); Jason Segal and Paul Rudd aren’t afraid to say I LOVE YOU, MAN (2500 screens) and Julia Roberts and Clive Owen reunite for the first time since CLOSER in Tony Gilroy’s first feature since MICHAEL CLAYTON, DUPLICITY (2400 screens). Look for the Black Sheep review of their latest adventure, as well as a previously unpublished review of the award winning MICHAEL CLAYTON, later this week.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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