Sunday, March 08, 2009

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Watching the Watchmen

It’s not like I wanted it to fail. It’s not like I knew it wouldn’t succeed. There is a part of me though that is tickled to see that WATCHMEN hasn’t shattered any records upon its highly anticipated release. I am even more amused to see the film’s devout followers defend its sizable but hardly sizzling debut. After all, WATCHMEN is the third highest opening weekend for an R-rated film outside of the summer season. That matters, right?

Realistically speaking, WATCHMEN did do well. It just didn’t do what was expected. Opening in the same frame two years ago, Zack Snyder’s breakthrough film, 300, opened to about $15 million more than WATCHMEN did. Advance buzz seemed just as deafening as it did for 300 and midnight screenings for WATCHMEN doubled the gross of 300’s midnight screenings. Everything seemed on track as reports suggested that most WATCHMEN screenings were sold out all weekend. Yet, it never got to the heights it so clearly felt destined to reach, despite WATCHMEN boasting the widest R-rated release in history. Maybe it was the nearly three-hour run time that set it back. It certainly is a viable theory. The other is that it just didn’t matter that much to anyone outside of the comic-book crowd or, at the very least, as much as Warner banked on.

The rest of the Top 10 held very tightly … well, with the exception of THE JONAS BROTHERS: THE 3D CONCERT EXPERIENCE. After a disappointing debut last week, it plummeted nearly 80%. Maybe there is still time for the brothers to sneak a cameo into the upcoming Hannah Montana movie to redeem themselves. Meanwhile, sleeper hits like TAKEN and PAUL BLART: MALL COP inched up the charts well into their runs. Even CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC managed an upward move and it has already been declared a flop. The 2009 box office continues its record breaking run and this cynical world is watching and wondering when its all going to come to a hault.

No major studio risked opening any wide release opposite WATCHMEN. Platform releases stepped in to take advantage with counterprogramming. The most notable is the three piece homage to Tokyo, aptly named TOKYO! The film opened on just one screen and pulled in a per screen average of over $21K. The Swedish import, EVERLASTING MOMENTS, opened to mild but solid $10K average on five screens. And finally, indie drama, PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND, starring Elle Fanning and Felicity Huffman, opened on a handful of screens but did not report its estimates at press time.

NEXT WEEK: WATCHMEN will race for the top with RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, starring The Rock, who coincidentally hosted SNL this past weekend. Crazy timing. A young stud tries to get some in MISS MARCH after he fell into a coma before he could lose his virginity. Riveting. And THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT will try to creep out audiences who have been inundated with horror flicks all year now. The little ray of sunshine clearing the way is the potential indie darling, SUNSHINE CLEANING, opening on just four screens.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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