Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Box Office Blather: Unstoppable Potter and the 127 Tangled Swans

No, not that BOB.
Box Office Blather. Let's call it "BOB".

One should probably discuss it weekly (and not on Wednesday? Shut it. I'm late.) if only to be more "in the world" and less hermetically sealed in one's own bubble, he said to himself while gazing at his navel in his 360º mirror.

In all seriousness this is a problem. I sometimes stare at box office charts and think "'The Warrior's Way'?  What the hell is that?" And, bear in mind, I think and write about movies 7 days a week so these blind spots can be problematic. And yet, when you live in a big city and you have options you don't always notice what's playing in thousands of theaters when you can obsess over something like Black Swan which is playing in just over a dozen. Thus one stays sealed in one's bubble.

Box Office Blather Bakers Dozen
("Bobbed!"...why do I need names for everything? It's a sickness)
  1. Tangled (2nd week) $21.6 [cumulative: $96.5] -55%
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1 (3rd week) $17 [cumulate: $244.5] -65 %
  3. Burlesque (2nd week) $6.1 [cumulative: $26.9] -48%
  4. Unstoppable (4th week) $5.9 [cumulative: $68.7] -47%
  5. Love and Other Drugs (2nd week)  $5.6 [cumulative: $22.5] -42%
  6. Megamind (5th week) $4.9 [cumulative: $136.6] -60%
  7. Due Date (5th week) $4.1 [cumulative: $90.8] -42%
  8. Faster (2nd week) $3.9 [cumulative: $18.2] -53%
  9. The Warrior's Way DEBUT $3.0
  10. The Next Three Days (3rd week)  $2.5 [cumulate: $18.3] -45%
  11. Morning Glory (4th week) $1.6 [cumulative: $29] -54%
  12. 127 Hours (5th week) $1.6 [cumulative: $6.6] -5%
  13. Black Swan DEBUT $1.4
A few random or obnoxious observations about that chart [src] come after the jump

Let's start off by alienating all of you! Wheeeee. Back in 2001 and 2002 I was incensed with Hollywood for being so lame / literal when the first two Harry Potters emerged and they were like books on tape only the tape was film. Then, through sheer force of ---FULL STOP. We should save this for the "Year in Review, Cinematic Shame" section later in December.

About 127 Hours... should it or shouldn't it be doing better business? It's a matter of perspective I suppose. One of my friends shared this on Facebook and said I could share it here. It's just too amusing while also illustrating a box office obstacle to the movie.
My parents' review of 127 HOURS (they went with another couple): "We all really enjoyed the movie a lot. But we didn't see the one you wanted us to see. We got to the theater, and Rhonda didn't want to watch the arm-cutting, so we saw 'Morning Glory' instead. It was adorable."

I'm sad that Burlesque isn't a smash. Now, we'll never get the sequel Burlesque 2 that Joe Reid pitched like so...
Burlesque 2, where Cher and Xtina must deal with a rival burlesque club that moves in across the street, run by a wizened Madonna and her protégée Britney Spears.
I would pay a month's wages to see that movie.

Moving on... Black Swan's $77,000 per screen average is a feat (a record for Fox Searchlight) as is the #13 status when it's only on 18 screens. But it remains to be seen how well that ballet thriller will transfer once it widens. "Weird" movies don't tend to play all that well at the box office, no matter how brilliant they are. You could counter with Inception but how weird is that? It explains the weirdness to you to make sure you don't get confused and the dream imagery, for all its gargantuan f/x thrills, isn't surreal like actual dreams. I'm trying to think of a strange movie that did well at the box office and I'm coming up blank. Do bizarre movies -- even the thrilling ones -- ever make a splash at the box office? (Post 1970s I mean.) Think of the fervor for Mullholland Dr (2001) and remember: it only managed $7 million in the States. My friend who I was discussing this with thinks I'm underestimating the accessibility of Swan but agreed that there's still going to be a ceiling; maybe Precious sized grosses? Help me out in the comments. What do you think the ceiling is for the high/low mix of psychological ballet thriller and camp horror hallucinatory artistic metaphor? 

Argh! And there I go again with the bubble. 127 Hours and Black Swan are only 451 screens between them and that's immediately what I start talking about. Perhaps this will be a project for 2011. Go to more mainstream movies. Experiment. (Didn't Tim Brayton agree to review anything that opened at #1 at the box office. Or did I imagine that? Think of the things you'd have to review!) My point is this: My brother called last week wanting to talk about Skyline which opened on 2800 screens and Megamind which opened on nearly 4,000. I hadn't seen them. Total bummer because I don't talk to my brother enough and he called about movies, sniffle, my favorite topic.

Tangled has nearly equalled the entire The Princess and the Frog gross
in its first two weeks.

So outside the bubble... Tangled. Do you think Disney will attribute its success to that misleading obnoxious ad campaign positioning it as a Shrek-like affair or to the fact that it's a throwback to their late 80/early 90s musical princess heyday. Or will they attribute it to both and advertise all future movies as the opposite of the type of movie they actually are?

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