Sunday, November 08, 2009

Black Sheep @ The Box Office: Christmas Comes Early ... Too Early

It seemed promising enough on Friday. Robert Zemeckis's expensive remake of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, starring Jim Carrey, debuted strong, prompting some to expect a weekend take north of $40 million. The final tally came in around $31 million and begs the question, why? Could be that audiences aren't ready for Christmas just yet but it could also be that audiences are not connecting with Zemeckis's obsession with motion capture animation. His previous effort, THE POLAR EXPRESS, was hardly a resounding success and the word on A CHRISTMAS CAROL is that some of it works but it is just as cold and lifeless this time out with Carrey as it was with Tom Hanks. The past and present are pretty shaky for motion capture animation so unless the ghost of Christmas future has a few tricks in store, Zemeckis might have to go back to making movies the old fashioned way ... just once.

This week's big winner is a pleasant surprise. Yes, it won the Audience Award at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. Yes, Mo'Nique was on Ellen and Mariah did Larry King this week. And yes, Oprah has been telling all of her minions to see it for weeks now. Still, PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL "PUSH" BY SAPPHIRE is difficult movie to watch so it would naturally repel certain viewers. I'm happy to report that audiences in the four cities that it is currently playing in decided not to cower but to face the harshness head on. PRECIOUS earned over $1.8 million on just 18 screens in all of America. That makes its $100K per screen average a record breaker for an urban picture and one of the 25 greatest per screen averages of all time. It should be noted that the greater per screens are for lower screen counts, making PRECIOUS look even more impressive. Best Picture, here we come? (Note: Black Sheep's interview with the director and star is coming soon!)

There was a lot of other activity in the Top 10 and for the first time in while, it wasn't paranormal. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY did continue to hold up well though. I can't say I understand why now that Halloween is done with and everyone should know by now that it isn't anywhere near as scary as was suggested. Its continued success may explain why THE FOURTH KIND did not blow up, instead managing a respectable fourth place finish. Coming in ahead at number three was the George Clooney/Ewan MacGregor war farce, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS. Adult films are harder and harder to sell and subsequently, the $13 million debut is considered to be a win for Overture. Neither film was able to take down MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT. I finally caught that one this weekend and the theatre was definitely packed so Jackson's music is alive and well. I cannot say the same for Richard Kelley's follow-up to DONNIE DARKO, THE BOX. The film, which fizzled in sixth place, asks if you would take a million dollars if you knew someone random in the world would die. The answer: Nobody cares.

NEXT WEEK: PRECIOUS will expand slowly and Wes Anderson's first foray into animation, FANTASTIC MR. FOX, debuts on 4 screens. I caught it this week ... see it! PIRATE RADIO wants to dominate the airwaves on 900 screens but none of this matters. Nope because next week the world ends when 2012 debuts on 3000+ screens. It was nice knowing you.

SOURCE: Box Office Mojo

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