Monday, March 16, 2009

Watchmen continues to bleed, Witch Mountain races to #1, and Taken will not die (weekend box office rundown for 03-15-09)

Well, the bleeding clotted somewhat on Watchmen, with a 'mere' 68% drop in weekend two, ending with $17.7 million. It's ten-day take is now at a troubling $85.7 million. It will limp to $100 million by next weekend. As it is, it will be somewhat protected via IMAX until Monsters Vs. Aliens takes every IMAX and 3D screen on Earth on March 27th. I've said much about this film's box office over the last ten days, so I'll simply state that at this point, the blame goes not to the 'challenging material' or lack of stars or overly long running time. The problem was that the movie (in the opinion of myself and a surprising number of 'geeks') wasn't all that good, and certainly not good enough to bring in the non-converts. I'm glad it was made, and I'm glad it was allowed to be the movie it was. But I wish it was a better, more disciplined picture. Maybe Watchmen really was an unfilmable property. Oh well, for what it's worth, I'm looking forward to the super-long director's cut (I imagine it'll make a great laundry folding movie).

As for the number one entry this weekend, most people expected Race To Witch Mountain to open at number 01, and myself and others expected about a $25 million haul. It pulled in a 3.6 opening day to weekend multiplier. Even for a family film, that's impressive in this front loaded day and age. It opened to $6.734 million on Friday, shot to $10.898 million on Saturday, then barely passed its Friday gross on Sunday (also a rare feat) with $6.769 million. So the weekend total is $24.4 million and if it displays anything like the legs we've been seeing on such populist entertainments like Taken, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and He's Just Not That Into You, Race To Witch Mountain will easily pass $100 million and become his highest-grossing star vehicle (The Scorpion King and The Game Plan both grossed around $91 million). Also of note was the statistic that 18% of the audience comprised of adults without children.

Coming in third place was the Wes Craven-produced remake of Wes Craven's The Last House On The Left. It brought in $14.1 million, which is comparable with the $15.7 million opening weekend for the Wes Craven-produced remake of Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes. The Hills Have Eyes remake collapsed pretty quickly, ending with $41 million. I expect a similar fate for this one. I suppose if Craven and company are going to mine his filmography for 2.0 versions, he might as well start remaking his bad films as well as his good ones. I for one eagerly await the remake of Wes Craven's Shocker (who will replace Mitch Pileggi)? But Deadly Friend and Vampire In Brookyln probably ought to be left where they are.

Coming in fourth is the unstoppable Taken with another $6.6 million (off a mere 10.4%). Fox must be laughing its ass off right about now. Not only will this acquisition that almost didn't get released in the US soon surpass Watchmen on the weekend top-ten list, but it will probably out gross Watchmen in the final domestic tally. The Liam Neeson (sure-as-hell ought to be) franchise starter has now grossed $127 million. That's (so far) a whopping 5.12x opening weekend to final gross multiplier, which is unheard of these days for anything but platform releases. I haven't seen legs like this since The Sixth Sense, There's Something About Mary, and Titanic. Ironically, I imagine this will only start cashing out when summer starts, which means that Taken might end up losing its screens to Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

In other news, Coralane has just about passed $70 million, He's Just Not That Into You has just about reached $90 million, and Madea Goes Go To Jail has reached $83 million. The first will limp to $80 million, the second will make it to $100 million, and last will try its damnedest to reach $100 million and might just get there (again, if second run theaters were still a factor, this wouldn't even be in question). Oh, and Slumdog Millionaire is now the 10th-highest grossing Best Picture Oscar winner of all time with $132 million.

More box office fun next weekend when Alex Proyas (the guy who made Dark City) directs Nicolas Cage in Knowing, and Julia Roberts 'makes a comeback' (IE - returns to making films after choosing to take a break to raise her kids) by teaming with Clive Owen in the allegedly quite good Duplicity. Just remember folks, Julia Roberts has only had $30 million+ three day opening weekends with Runaway Bride, American Sweethearts, Ocean's 11, and Ocean's 12 (a Pretty Woman reunion and large ensemble films). So don't go all 'Julia Roberts is finished as a leading lady!!' if Duplicity 'only' opens to $20 million.

Scott Mendelson

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