Monday, August 03, 2009

Black Sheep @ The Box Office: No Laughing Matter

$23 million doesn’t sound like the opening weekend gross of a number one summer title but it is for this week’s FUNNY PEOPLE. In fact, that amount is the lowest gross of any number one film this summer and also 23% less than what writer/director, Judd Apatow’s last movie, KNOCKED UP, pulled in on its opening weekend. Still, distributor, Universal, thinks the number is great and falls perfectly in line with what they had in mind to begin with. Now, that’s funny.

FUNNY PEOPLE is considered a departure for both the director and the star, Adam Sandler. The major reason for that is that it isn’t very funny. To be fair, it isn’t supposed to be – it is a movie about a dying comedian after all. The departure angle is Universal’s argument for the supposedly acceptable gross. They believe the picture will speak for itself and that it will grow just like the director and star have grown in the weeks to come. One problem with that theory – reviews are mixed to poor. They’re not about to be booed off stage but it shouldn’t be too hard to follow them.

Audiences weren’t interested this weekend in much of anything that Hollywood had to offer. ALIENS IN THE ATTIC opened on over 3100 screens but only mustered a very earthly $7.8 million. And horror flick, THE COLLECTOR, missed out on the Top 10 and couldn’t crack an average higher than $3K. It was the holdovers that most impressed this week. HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE redeemed itself after a 60% drop last week by slipping less than 40% this week. That did of course have to do with the addition of over 160 IMAX screens as it had to wait in line for TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN to finish its IMAX run first. Last week’s number one, G-FORCE, has now pulled in over $66 million in under 2 weeks. And comedy hits, THE HANGOVER and THE PROPOSAL are still only dropping off with scant 20-something percents week on week.

The art-house crowd also had much to celebrate this week as expansions went smoothly and launches started solidly. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER made its first major move toward the mainstream with the addition of 181 screens. It still managed an average of over $10K per screen and will certainly find itself in the Top 10 next week when it adds 800 more screens. THE HURT LOCKER has not seen as much success as that but that stands to reason given the heavier subject matter. Still, now playing on over 500 screens, the Oscar contender saw its gross increase week on week by another 32% for a total of $6.8 million. And British import and Black Sheep favorite, IN THE LOOP added 27 screens for 60% increase and an average of nearly $9K. As far as launches go, the dolphin documentary, THE COVE, opened to a solid $13K average on just four screens (look for the Black Sheep interview with the director coming later this week) but it was ADAM, a Fox Searchlight picture about an unlikely love, that scored this week’s biggest per screen average, with $16.5K.

NEXT WEEK: The last of the summer blockbusters, G.I JOE blasts its way onto over 3500 screens. Sony counter-programs with the Meryl Streep/Amy Adams comedy, JULIE & JULIA on 2300 screens. Universal gets scary with THE GETAWAY on 2000 screens. And the quirky Charlene Yi/Michael Cera mockumentary, PAPER HEART opens on 40 screens.

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Variety

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