Friday, September 05, 2008

Puny Movies. Streep Smash!

Labor Day essentially drew a big chalk line between the summer movie season ended and the serious realms of back to school and fall film season, so let's briefly check back in to the year's box office. Where we stand now as it were.

Best Picture (if Oscar were like "People's Choice")
01 The Dark Knight $505 and climbing
It's finally slowing down going into its 8th week but damn... now that is a zeitgeist picture. The term gets overused (I'm guilty too) but that's a real one. So many people responding to it. It's the only modern film that's ever turned itself into a threat to Titanic.
02 Iron Man $317
03 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull $315
I finally watched this. I thought 'Oh, Nat. Don't be such a stick in the mud just because you sometimes think franchises should die noble deaths rather than be exhumed.' But um... even as I found myself completely ready for F-U-N --I guarantee I was in the right mood -- I wasn't having much. Cate Blanchett was sort of a hoot even if her accent was both half baked and deliciously burnt...but that wasn't much of a character to play. I was happy in concept and sometimes in execution to see Marion and Indy reunited. But yikes, this movie is lame. CGI gophers?
04 Hancock $227
05 WALL•E $218
I heart this movie. Should probably see again. I still can't fathom how Cars was a bigger hit than this? Ah well, at least with Pixar, they're always hits and $200+ is nothing to complain about.

Runners Up
06 Kung Fu Panda $213
07 Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who! $154
08 Sex & The City $152
09 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian $141
This is why everybody does and should make sequels: People will go to them dutifully even if they're not particularly enthused. Force of habit.
10 Mamma Mia! $ 133 and still singing
I haven't seen it which you must know is madness. I know it's supposed to be terrible (which wouldn't surprise me) but Nathaniel missing musicals and Meryl... [gasp]. Still, I can't bear to think of seeing that one alone and I don't have my movie going buddies around since I'm still a hotel dweller.

Technically, at the day of this writing, The Incredible Hulk holds that number ten spot, somehow eking out a teensy victory over Wanted which people seemed to like a whole lot more at the time but which didn't have any legs to speak of, barring Angelina's. Still: Streep Smash! Mamma Mia! (#12 as of right now) will outdistance them both this weekend since it's still in the top ten. That big green giant just can't catch a break. First he struggled all summer just to beat the original outing (by a narrow 2 million) and with that big monkey of a budget on his back, cutting into his profits.

If the (redundant) Mamma Mia! Sing-Along idea catches on, Streep will have an even bigger hit than she already has. What was that about female led films being box office poison? Remember that panic when Jodie Foster couldn't make her usual numbers with The Brave One? Never mind. If The Women tanks on September 12th you'll start hearing that tired meme all over again. "Women can't sell movies. Pay no attention to those many films behind the curtain (of your short term memory)!"

Films that should have been bigger hits...
A Girl Cut in Two (France) $95,000 in the states / $7.6 million abroad
I think it would be fascinating if, for just one year, we who weren't present for the American craze for the foreign film (60s and 70s) could experience what it was like when hipsters, at least, flocked to them.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (US) $13.7 million
It's doing very well if you look at it on the Woody Allen curve... but given the solidity of its performance, shouldn't it be getting more than a couple of dozen new theaters in its fourth weekend?
In Bruges (UK) $7.8 million in the States / $18.5 million abroad.
I keep thinking this will become more widely loved on DVD
Reprise (Norway) $554,000 in the states / $647,000 abroad
It didn't cross that 1 million threshold that used to be the mark of a foreign hit here at the arthouses but the number of subtitled pictures that are able to do that per year has dwindled. Half a million is a very respectable gross these days once you cross the ocean. Still, one wishes it were more.

Will the Fall Film Season bring any real box office players or just golden hopefuls?


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Anonymous said...

Folly! Nate, don't believe the foo-fah! Me and my Mum (coz im cool like that) went and saw Mamma Mia! and she hates EVERY musical she's ever seen. She just hates them. The only reason she agreed to see this one was Meryl. Aaannnnnddd even she loved it! Its not masterpiece by any means, by I didnt wipe the smile off my face the whole movie! It was soooo fun! And almost everyone else I know whose seen it thought the same way!

Do urself a favour and check it out... even if its with ur mum.

Glenn Dunks said...

Well, in it's sixth week Mamma Mia increased it's box office from the week before so that sing-along thing worked fleetingly. Moreso than Hairspray last year.

Anonymous said...

meryl in mamma mia was divine!!
only she would know how to mix the right amounts of camp, theatricality, emotion and a huge dollop of likeability into her character.

Its gonna be a STREEP banner year with doubt coming in dec.
early reviews are ecstatic

Unknown said...

just like jofo I had to drag a parent along with me to see it (in this case my dad, who went because he owes me for all those "bow 'em up" films I accompany him to see) and we BOTH had a blast with a good dose of pop of laughter! Mamma Mia! is a blast! don't you dare miss it or you don't deserve to be called a "musical"-lover ;o)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you can have not seen Mamma Mia yet. It doesn't attempt to be anything more than the sum of its parts, and it's sheer bliss because of it. My film of the year to date.


Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, I totally agree on Wall-E. great film. the only reason cars was a "bigger hit" was that it was so much more accessible. I'm almost 18 and I brought my 5 and 7 year old cousins to see it. they thought it was lame. kids didnt like it because they dont get it. no words for like an hour? plus they cant appreciate how many levels this film hits on : political,social,artistic,creativity,sheer entertainment. a very adult animation.

Anonymous said...

Mamma Mia is THAT terrible, harmless and somehow funny, but terrible.

- Big cast instead of great voices. Fine, box office proves right.
- Abba songs all along even as background music. Fine, it's a musical made out of them, so it's sounds logical.*
- Tacky setting, is that an island or just a couple of streets? But fine anyway, the budget went completely to the cast, I guess.

But what I think is unforgivable is a musical with such poor musical numbers. Any attempt at a complex choreography is almost absent, the only exception being the Dancing Queen number and to me it reminds me of those disco group choreographies for Macarena or Saturday Night. One of the things that make classic musicals classic is their big and spectacular choreographies, imo. And that is nowhere to be found in MM.

* I haven't seen the stage musical because I'm openly against franchise musicals spreading all over the world as theatre Starbucks. Translated and copied word after word with no space left for adaptation or imagination.

Anyway, you like Abba, you like musicals and you like Meryl, so you'll like the movie.


Runs Like A Gay said...

Mamma Mia is doing rubbish in the US.

Here in the UK it's number 2 in the charts 8 weeks after opening and is set to be the highest grossing film in the UK this year.

Meryl smash!

adam k. said...

Nathaniel, SEE Mamma Mia!. What's wrong with you??

It's arguably the worst film I've seen this year, but it was also (arguably) the most fun (competition is limited to WALL*E and SATC).

You don't need friends to go with if you just drink a little beforehand. Are you back in NYC yet? Once there, you won't even have to drive anywhere, so you could go in smashed if you wanted.

The movie's bad, to be sure, but it's impossible not to laugh at/with it, and Streep is golden. She'll deserve her GG nod.

whitney said...

I think Cars probably made more because of its built in audience. Wall-E seems a little more artsy. News got out about the mostly silent factor...I don't know...but it blows my mind a little, too.

Anonymous said...

To runs like a gay: Mama Mia is doing extremely well in the U.S.

The picture is a hoot ... who cares if all the parts ( techs, singing, etc, ) aren't great ... the cast seems to be having a wonderful time and the audience that I was in for the pic had a ball... To me, that is what film making is all about.

Meryl Streep, once again, proved she can do anything!! She was fantastic!

Garen said...

Am i the only one who really really really didn't like Vick Chris Barc? I'm angry that anyone is seeing it and giving it money! And that it's getting good reviews! I almost walked out of the theater! Especially during scenes where EXACT ON SCREEN HAPPENINGS WERE BEING NARRATED TO ME IN EXCRUCIATING DETAIL BY A NERDY HIGH SCHOOL CHESS TEAM VOICE. SHOW DON'T TELL GD-IT! Let me do at least SOME of the work!

And I'm totally not a Woody hater I swear! I'll stop whining now.

Missy said...

Sorry Garen but I loved VCB too:)
It's pretty digusting that crappy Hancock, grossed more than WALL*E

Unknown said...

the horror is you americans are getting robbed of the chance to see the original spanish hit [rec] at the theaters. It's a hell of a ride, and you're getting the photocopy - quarantine - instead. Sigh. I guess that the spanish version with subtitles could have done the miracle of beating The Blair Witch Project b.o. only based upon word of mouth. It's same concept but with everything happening in front of your eyes, like if it was crossed with United 93. And well acted, lol

Glenn said...

Rick, I'd suggest that no movie can get by purely by the fact that the cast obviously had a few chardies in the catering trailer before they shot their scenes.

No matter how much fun it looked like Meryl was having, it was still poorly choreographed, lazily direction, had bad CGI, terrible male singing and an editor who fell asleep on the slow motion button. Thankfully I liked the singing from the women and, obviously, the songs and the movie was pretty to look at. So, yeah. It wasn't a waste of an evening.

Anonymous said...

Didn't I say the techs were not good ( including poor male voices )... my point is that ...if a moviegoer has fun at the movie, it has done its job.