Friday Estimates: With $9.5 Million On Its First Day, Taken Will Take The Weekend

on Saturday, January 31, 2009   9 comments

Friday turned out to be a pretty good day at the box office this weekend, and movies basically have tonight to keep making money, before their box office potential is slashed in half by Super Bowl Sunday. Based on Friday Estimates, though, Taken will easily run away as the weekend champ.

The Liam Neeson action picture, Taken, found a great $9.5 million on Friday, which was far and away the best on the chart. This debut establishes Liam Neeson as a viable box office draw, which is good, because I'm fairly certain that most people knew him as "that guy in a bunch of movies" and the voice of Aslan in the Narnia films. For the rest of the weekend, I'll give Taken a pretty typical-for-Superbowl-Weekend multiplier of 2.5 and say it should end up with about $24 million for the frame.

The Uninvited opened to a fair $4.5 million on Friday. It's a bit curious to me that this didn't break out more, but I think that January's recent glut of horror films at the cinema must have finally had an effect on the box office. Still, because of low production costs, this is hardly a flop, and it should be able to rake in $12 million over the three day weekend, good enough for 2nd or 3rd place, since Paul Blart: Mall Cop will be looking at a similar total. It will be intersting to see if The Uninvited has a smaller decline next weekend because of its Super Bowl lowered totals.

New In Town could only muster up $2.6 million of ticket sales, as it appears that people just aren't excited to see Renee Zellweger in any kind of movie, especially one as bad as this. I'm telling you all, winning the Oscar for Best Actress is a box office death sentence. Give New In Town $7.5 million over the weekend. Here are the full Friday Estimates:

Friday Estimates For January 30, 2009
1. Taken - $9.5 million
2. The Uninvited - $4.5 million
3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $4 million
4. Gran Torino - $2.8 million
5. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - $2.6 million
6. New in Town - $2.6 million
7. Slumdog Millionaire - $2.25 million
8. Hotel For Dogs - $1.9 million
9. My Bloody Valentine 3-D - $1.5 million
10. Bride Wars - $1.2 million
11. The Wrestler - $1.1 million
12. Inkheart - $1.1 million

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Weekend Preview: Can The Uninvited Take Down Taken On Super Bowl Weekend?

on Thursday, January 29, 2009   1 comments

It's Super Bowl Weekend this weekend, and in terms of the box office, that means it's time for counter-programming. With every man in the U.S. glued to the sofa on Sunday, studios traditionally hope to release movies that will engage female viewers. But the curious thing about this year is that among the three new releases, it seems that the harder they target women, the less box office potential they have. Opening this week is the male oriented action film, Taken, a psycho-stepmom horror flick, The Uninvited, and a generic romantic comedy, New In Town. Strangely enough, as the subject matter gets girlier, the receipts should be lower.

The number one film this weekend will be Fox's Taken, which is getting a huge release into 3,183 theaters. The film, which stars Liam Neeson, will have to make almost all of its money on Friday and Satruday, since the Super Bowl will absolutely obliterate ticket sales. Taken tells the story of a retired CIA agent, who must rescue his daughter and her friend when they are abducted in France. Besides Neeson, the film stars two beautiful actresses who have been written off popular TV shows, Maggie Grace (killed off of Lost) and Famke Jansen (her character left when she turned out to be a man on Nip/Tuck). Despite the lack of Sunday box office, awareness is pretty good for this one, advertising has been effective, and it's got some fairly good reviews. All of this should lead to a nice $19 million weekend.

The only other newcomer competing for the top spot this weekend is The Uninvited, the latest in what has become a veritable parade of horror movies this January. The feature from Paramount stars Elizabth Banks as a woman who comes to tend to a sick father's bedside. All of the sudden, though, the man's wife has died, and he has become engaged to this younger woman. His daughters are creeped out by the new fling, and they set out to get to the bottom of what's going on. It's a mixture of a ghost story and a psychotic stepmom story. The advertising on this has been strong and highly effective, giving audiences a good idea of the plot. Also, with a PG-13 rating, and three central female characters, this seems like a horror release that is woman-friendly, which should help it a bit this weekend. For a movie of this genre, reviews aren't bad, and earlier in January The Unborn, My Bloody Valentine: 3D, and Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans all managed to open in the $19-22 million range, and while the Super Bowl will take that dwn a notch, I don't why audiences would have just suddenly gotten tired of horror again. Almost every other box office prediction is giving this an $11-12 million opening, but I think The Uninvited, which is flying into 2,344 theaters, is looking at $17 million over the weekend.

The final new release of the weekend is the only offering that is truly targeting women, but its prospects are still looking grim. New In Town is a romantic "comedy" from Lionsgate starring Puffy Face herself, Renee Zellweger, and Harry Connick Jr.. (I will admit that she looks a bit less "puffy" in this movie, so maybe she's taking it easy on the botox...) The plot here is so thin that I won't even go over it, but suffice it to say, it looks terrible. Like Bride Wars terrible. I'm pretty sure winning the Oscar for Best Actress is actually a curse that makes all of your following films extremely bad, because I don't see why else Zellweger would sign on to this. I guess she just needs work like anyone else. Reviews are awful, it's getting a release of 1,941 theaters, and there's been minimal advertising for this stinker. Give New In Town $6.5 million for the frame.

Among holdovers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is still very much a force to be reckoned with. Since the Sandler-produced comedy is a film geared at young males, it will drop a bit harder this weekend, but a 45% drop will still give it $12 million for the weekend, and $80 million overall. Clint Eastwood's box office stalwart, Gran Torino, will continue its great run, and a 40% drop will put the film at $10 million for the weekend and $111 total. Given the geek factor and the Super Bowl factor, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans should see a fanboy-style drop of about 60% to $8 million. Meanwhile, Slumdog Millionaire should continue its increible resilience as it expands into about 200 more theaters, which might give it a sweet 12th weekend of $8 million. Here's my full forecast for the weekend:

Predicted Top 12 For January 30-February 1
1. Taken - $19 million
2. The Uninvited - $17 million
3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $12 million
4. Gran Torino - $10 million
5. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans - $8 million
6. Slumdog Millionaire - $8 million
7. Hotel For Dogs - $7.5 million
8. New In Town - $6.5 million
9. The Curious Case Of Benajmin Button - $4.5 million
10. My Bloody Valentine: 3D - $4.3 million
11. Bride Wars - $4 million
12. Inkheart - $3 million

What do you all think of my forecast? Does it make sense, or am I as hopeless as The Cardinals on Sunday? Let's hear your predictions in the comments! Go Steelers!

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"Voyage Of The Dawn Treader" Will Sail, Thanks To A Pick Up From Fox 2000

on Thursday, January 29, 2009   1 comments

Oh my Aslan- this is awesome! So last month, Disney discontinued their involvement with the Narnia franchise, due to the high production costs, and relative disappointment of last year's Prince Caspian. But don't write out the Pevensie children just yet! The third installment of the popular franchise, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, has just found a new home at Fox 2000, and the studio is aiming for a release during the holiday season in 2010. According to THR:

Despite a couple of suitors, including Columbia, Walden only had eyes for Fox, with whom it partnered to market and distribute its fare under the Fox Walden banner after the first "Narnia" film.
I'm very excited about this! I think that the Narnia franchise has a tremendous amount of potential, both creatively and financially. I thought that The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe was charming, but I was disappointed in the muddled characterization and bland action of Prince Caspian. As far as the box office decline between the first and second films ($745 M vs $419 M worldwide), I attribute most of the blame to Disney, who was utterly lazy in their marketing. With the right advertising, I think Fox could move The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader back into the $200-$250 million range, domestically, and $500-$600 million worldwide.

Story wise, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader is infinitely more interesting than Prince Caspian, with sea monsters, dragons, and some dynamic new children, so I'm thrilled about the pick up from Fox. Now, let's just hope they make a good movie! What about you? Are you as excited as I am for the next Narnia film?

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5 Reasons You Love Elizabeth Banks (And Probably Didn't Even Know It!)

on Wednesday, January 28, 2009   15 comments

Would it surprise you if I told you that the biggest female box office star of the last decade was Elizabeth Banks? I'm sure many of you probably don't even know who she is! Well, as it turns out, Elizabeth Banks, whose new film The Uninvited opens in two days, has cumulatively grossed more money at the U.S. box office than any other woman in the 2000's. Crazy right? While Elizabeth Banks does not exist on the levels of Jolie or Kidman, she gets way more roles, that are funnier, cooler, and more interesting, and on top of all that, she's hotter! Since it's Wednesday, and that means it's time for The Box Office Junkie's weekly list, here are 5 Reasons You Love Elizabeth Banks, whether you know her or not:

5. Scrubs!
If you're part of the massive cult that makes up the world of Scrubs fans, then you're already familiar with Ms. Banks, who frequently guest stars on the NBC ABC comedy as Zack Braff's fellow doctor/girlfriend/ baby mama. She showed up at the end of the fifth season, and comes by for a visit every now and then!

4. First Lady At The Box Office, And In The White House
For Oliver Stone's presidential film, W., Elizabeth transformed herself into Laura Bush, our country's former First Lady, who must be so relieved that the last eight years are finally over. Starring alongside Josh Brolin, Banks looked the part as well as she acted it, and she received rave reviews for her portrayal in the political film.

3. She's Part Of The Apatow Crowd
Elizabeth Banks has done herself well by staying close with Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Judd Apatow. By starring in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, and Role Models, Banks has wisely been making herself one of the few women, along with Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie, that can legitimately draw men into theaters. It's nice to see that despite her success, she doesn't consider herself "above" comedy. And, yes, I'm looking at you, Academy Awards.

2. The Beautiful Betty Brant
You may not remember her very well, but Elizabeth Banks appears in all three of the massively lucrative Spider-Man movies as Miss Brant, the raven-haired secretary for newspaper mogul, Jonah Jameson. Personally, I'm a big fan of Miss Brant, and I know that she must have a cult following somewhere on the internet. My new mission is to find them! If you consider yourself part of the Betty Brant Fan Club, let me hear you sound off in the comments!

1. The Insanely Awesome Slither
Okay, movie geeks, this one goes out to you. Slither is a film from 2006 about an alien plague that turns people into all sorts of slug-like, mutant creatures. The intentional B-movie failed miserably at the box office, earning just $7 million, but true fanboys (and critics!) carried the Slither banner with utmost pride. Truthfully, this isn't usually my cup of tea, but I watched this film, and LOVED IT. Seriously, if you're in need of a fun evening, go watch this. Maybe it would have done better in the EEE.

There you go. Hopefully I've been able to shed some light on the most successful female actress of this decade, whose other hits include the football drama Invincible, Fred Claus, Catch Me If You Can, and Wet Hot American Summer. Now, it's your turn. Did you know who Elizabeth Banks was? Will you see her in The Uninvited? And, most importantly, are you a member of the Betty Brant fan club?

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Daniel Craig - Box Office Poison

on Wednesday, January 28, 2009   18 comments

Let's keep this post short and sweet bitter. I was looking at the box office figures for Defiance, and I noticed how poorly it's doing. Then I looked at the box office figures for Daniel Craig, the headlining star of Defiance, and I noticed something else: Daniel Craig is box office poison! Seriously, outside of the James Bond franchise, it's not just that the guy doesn't draw in audiences, he actually hurts the success of the movies he is in! It's a shame, because he's a great actor, but like Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts before him, nobody cares about Daniel Craig. Lets get into some numbers over the last few years:

Craig broke out in 2005's Layer Cake, a British caper film that garnered him enough attention to nab the coveted role of James Bond. Despite the loud buzz surrounding the film, though, it failed to break out in the U.S., earning a weak $2.3 million.

Later that year, Daniel moved on to a much higher profile film, Steven Spielberg's Munich. Critics and audiences enjoyed the film, and it was even nominated for some Oscars, but it earned a very small, very un-Spielberg box office of $47 million.

At this point, he'd been named as the new Bond, and his star was much higher than ever before, yet Craig's next effort, the Truman Capote pic, Infamous, could only muster up $1 million in ticket sales. Sad.
Casino Royale debuted, and it was frickin' awesome! It completely rejuvinated a tired franchise, and raked in a great $167 million. Craig was brilliant in the role, and everyeone fell in love with the new Bond. A star was born! Right?

Wrong. After an $80 million budget, plus reshoots, plus built-in curiosity to see the remake, plus Nicole Kidman co-headlining, The Invasion grossed only $15 million in August 2007. It was like a perfect storm of box office poisons.

Then came a film that was all but assured to be a blockbuster on paper. His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, a hugely expensensive ($205 million production budget + $60 million in advertising) fantasy film based on the popular book series, debuted in December 2007. Also starring Nicole Kidman, the wannabe Narnia or LOTR film found just $70 million at the domestic box office. Yeah, that's less than Eragon.

Quantum Of Solace came out, and once again, people turned out in droves to see the new James Bond feature. While not as beloved as Casino Royale, it still managed to rake in a solid $169 million.

And then there's Defiance, Craig's most recent effort. The WWII film comes with a hefty $50 million price tag, but after four weekends, has earned just $18 million.

So what have we learned today? A few things. First and foremost, Daniel Craig is box office poison. If you want your movie to make money, find another actor. Second, it is the character of James Bond, not the actor playing him, that draws in the audiences. Third and finally, NEVER let Craig star with Nicole Kidman. It's just a bad idea, and you are guaranteed to lose money.

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DVD Sales: Tyler Perry Does Pretty Well. Appaloosa Doesn't.

on Monday, January 26, 2009   4 comments

DVD Sales Notes for the week ending January 18, 2009

-Tyler Perry continues his impressive track record with a number one debut for The Family That Preys. Even if a $10 million debut on the home market isn't huge, none of his movies tend to do especially huge numbers on the home market, and considering the domestic gross of The Family That Preys was $37 million, $10 million in sales isn't a bad number. Perhaps he sees lower DVD sales because he caters to a more old school audience, that still prefer the theater. All in all, Perry's unique brand of modern, racially themed, Christian friendly melodrama may not make much sense on paper, but it sells well, and his films are very cheap to make

-Just like I predicted, Pineapple Express fell hard in its second weekend on the home market. Who said potheads weren't motivated to do anything? They'll buy DVDs pretty darn quick! 1.57 million units and $33 million in sales are very solid figures.

-My Best Friend's Girl.... I'm honestly trying my very hardest to remember what this movie is. As a movie guy, you'd think I would know, but I just can't seem to even muster up a slight memory of its existence. It must have been one of those terrible September releases. Let me go check. [Five minutes later] I knew it was from September! I'm really quite happy this film, which only grossed $19 million domestically, sold so poorly on DVD- mostly because it stars Dane Cook, who is perhaps the least funny comedian I've ever seen. Anything that thwarts his movie career is fine in my book.

-You know, Appaloosa just never quite caught on. It earned $20 million in theaters, but audience reaction to the film was just kind of, "eh." Audience reaction to the DVD appears to be the same. Westerns have to be pretty spectacular to generate business these days. 2007's 3:10 To Yuma was stunning, and even it only made $53 million. An alternate theory for Appaloosa's relative insignificance: Renee Zellweger. After watching the film, my friends and I have begun to call the botox-infused actress "Puffy Face," and believe me, the cosmetic procedure has not just affected her looks. How can you act if your face won't move?!

-Gosh, it's just one late summer/early fall release after another! Kiefer Sutherland starred in the generic thriller Mirrors, which earned $30 million back in August. In its first week on DVD, it sold 241,000 copies, for an inauspicious $4.6 million total.

-Was anyone else really rooting for Swing Vote? The film had a fantastic concept, but it was all but ignored while in theaters. The Kevin Costner election feature only grossed $16 million in theaters, so it's first week DVD sales of $4 million aren't all that surprising, especially post-Inauguration.

Here are the full results:

Top 30 DVD Sales For The Week Ending January 18, 2009
RankTitleUnits this Week% ChangeTotal UnitsSales this WeekTotal SalesWeeks in Release
1 Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys 491,001 -.-% 491,001 $10,776,195 $10,776,195 1
2 Pineapple Express 409,494 -65.0% 1,579,538 $8,312,933 $33,112,016 2
3 My Best Friend's Girl 269,707 -.-% 269,707 $6,283,876 $6,283,876 1
4 Appaloosa 257,628 -.-% 257,628 $4,982,551 $4,982,551 1
5 Mirrors 241,621 -.-% 241,621 $4,650,093 $4,650,093 1
6 Righteous Kill 192,570 -57.4% 644,090 $3,943,776 $13,486,245 2
7 Swing Vote 151,375 -.-% 151,375 $3,139,518 $3,139,518 1
8 Bangkok Dangerous (2008) 143,372 -56.7% 474,494 $3,267,147 $10,958,747 2
9 Dark Knight, The 139,542 -22.1% 12,335,445 $2,885,826 $259,597,014 6
10 Babylon A.D. 128,740 -61.3% 461,734 $3,147,397 $11,581,302 2
11 Eagle Eye 125,451 -54.0% 1,625,228 $2,471,385 $34,189,656 3
12 Tyler Perry's Marriage Counselor 121,572 -.-% 121,572 $1,700,792 $1,700,792 1
13 Mamma Mia! 118,331 -30.1% 5,456,486 $2,762,118 $119,092,770 5
14 WALL-E 94,469 3.5% 9,445,766 $1,625,415 $161,715,419 9
15 Battlestar Galactica - Season 4.0 77,578 -54.6% 248,638 $2,481,720 $7,953,930 2
16 Kung Fu Panda 70,999 -13.3% 8,106,940 $1,273,601 $133,618,173 10
17 Disaster Movie 66,383 -26.6% 156,827 $1,456,443 $3,440,784 2
18 Wanted 65,450 -19.2% 3,873,089 $1,253,655 $79,620,756 7
19 Horton Hears a Who! 64,341 -36.0% 3,876,781 $1,105,565 $67,517,535 6
20 Step Brothers 62,995 -22.8% 3,008,596 $1,136,109 $55,587,755 7
21 Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling 60,344 -.-% 60,344 $1,274,164 $1,274,164 1
22 Burn After Reading 56,318 -19.4% 953,910 $986,077 $17,276,103 4
23 Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The 53,175 -35.4% 2,350,854 $929,834 $42,818,981 5
24 Death Race 53,028 -25.0% 958,805 $1,233,962 $22,900,239 4
25 Duchess, The 51,105 -55.3% 321,356 $890,561 $5,642,352 3
26 Tropic Thunder 41,391 -27.2% 2,840,893 $858,288 $56,127,549 9
27 Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The 37,194 -48.5% 5,337,325 $591,396 $88,111,142 7
28 Traitor 34,117 -49.6% 743,136 $569,484 $13,144,863 5
29 Iron Man 33,241 -63.3% 8,612,182 $672,067 $161,302,382 16
30 Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia 32,161 -69.8% 138,635 $641,290 $2,764,382 2
All Numbers Provided By Nash Information Services via The-Numbers

If you'd like to purchase any of the above titles, click the links above, or on the sidebar. Remember, when you purchase at Amazon through The Box Office Junkie, you help support the site, which is greatly appreciated. Any thoughts on the DVD Sales? Let me know in the comments?

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Weekend Fix: Paul Blart Can't. Be. Stopped.

on Sunday, January 25, 2009   0 comments

Man, this week has really taken a toll on me, and I apologize for the lateness of this post. Basically, if you're a fan of the box office, you've already read 20 different recaps of the weekend (unless my little operation of The Box Office Junkie really is your #1 box office source, in which case, I'm flattered!), so you can survive a week without my analysis. It's been an especially hectic time right now (this is the same time I put my blog on hiatus last year), but I promise I'm sticking around for the long hall. Anyway, I don't have time for a full post, so here's the numbers, along with five observations:

1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the most popular thing since Obama.

2. R-rated movies are doing quite well right now. 7 of the Top 12 are rated R.

3. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans did fine. When you consider that it was originally intended as a straight-to-DVD feature, it did great.

4. Sorry, Inkheart. Reading still isn't cool.

5. Slumdog Millionaire is the most popular thing since Paul Blart: Mall Cop. After 11 weekends, it still has the highest per theater average in the Top 12. It will easily surpass $100 million.

Top 12 For January 16-18
Movie Title
3-Day Gross
% Change
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $21,500,000 -32% $6,838$64,800,000
2 Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
$20,700,000 New $7,036$20,700,000
3 Gran Torino
$15,985,000 -27% $5,250$97,561,000
4 Hotel For Dogs
$12,360,000 -27% $3,779$36,955,000
5 Slumdog Millionaire
$10,550,000 +80% $7,477$55,915,616
6 My Bloody Valentine: 3D
$10,050,000 -53% $3,966$37,770,000
7 Inkheart $7,725,000 New $2,910$7,725,000
8 Bride Wars
$7,000,000 -40% $2,671$48,702,264
9 The Curious Case Of Banjamin Button
$6,000,000 8% $2,651$111,044,000
10 Notorious $5,700,000 -72% $3,473$31,794,846
11 Defiance $5,432,000 -39% $3,030$18,329,000
12 Revolutionary Road
$5,268,000 195% $4,979$11,867,000
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

You know how it goes... Sound off in the comments!

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Friday Estimates: Are Vampires Any Kind Of Match For Paul Blart?

on Saturday, January 24, 2009   0 comments

The box office has come back down to Earth after last weekend's record-breaking frame. Based on Friday estimates, there will be a battle for the top spot between newcomer Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and the unexpected smash hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The weekend's other newcomer, Inkheart, didn't fare so well, though.

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans opened to a Friday gross of $7.8 million, which represents a 26% decline from Underworld: Evolution's opening day gross of $10.6 million. The Kate Beckinsale-less film appears to have been hurt by her absence, and it should take in about $19-20 million over the weekend, which may be good enough for the number one spot. (This opening underlines how much of a phenomenon fellow vampire film Twilight really was. Rise Of The Lycans' opening weekend won't even equal Twilight's opening day.)

The Brendan Fraser adventure film Inkheart wasn't quite so fortunate, pulling in only a meager $2.4 million. This is a pretty terrible result, and Inkheart will join the ranks of The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising ($9 M), Pathfinder ($10 M), and City Of Ember ($11 M) as yet another fantasy-adventure film that audiences simply weren't interested in. Give Inkheart a sad $7 million weekend. I guess this is what happens when you try to make a movie that tells the youth of 2009 to read more books...

Among holdovers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop pulled in $5.5 million on Friday (a 44% drop), which should lead the breakout comedy to a $18-19 million dollar weekend, which may be enough to top the charts for a second week in a row. Gran Torino continues to truck along, pulling in $4.3 million yesterday, which should give it a $14 million weekend. My Bloody Valentine: 3D fell 62% from last Friday to $3 million, and it should find about $9 million over the frame. Notorious utterly plummeted over the first day of this weekend, falling 70% to $2.3 million, which will give it $7-8 million over all. Hotel For Dogs, meanwhile, fell about 40% to $2.4 million, which should be good for a solid $10 million weekend.

The Oscar bait expansions performed pretty much in line with predictions. Slumdog Millionaire found a nice $2.7 million. Revolutionary Road grabbed $1.7 million. And audiences showed a general disinterest for Frost/Nixon, which found just $910,000. Here are the full Friday Estimates:

Friday Estimates For January 23, 2009
1. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans - $7.8 million
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $5.5 million
3. Gran Torino - $4.3 million
4. My Bloody Valentine: 3D - $3 million
5. Slumdog Millionaire - $2.7 million
6. Inkheart - $2.4 million
7. Hotel For Dogs - $2.4 million
8. Notorious - $2.3 million
9. Bride Wars - $2 million
10. Revolutionary Road - $1.7 million
11. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - $1.6 million
12. Defiance - $1.5 million
13. The Unborn - $1.4 million
18. Frost/Nixon - $910,000

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Weekend Preview: Will Underworld Rise To The Top?

on Friday, January 23, 2009   0 comments

Sorry for the delay on this column! It won't happen again! This weekend Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and Inkheart hit the big screen, while lots of Oscar bait like Slumdog Millionaire, Revolutionary Road, and Frost/Nixon have major expansions. All in all, it should be a busy weekend. Let's get to some analysis:

The likely number one flick this weekend is Sony's Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, the third film in the popular Underworld franchise, which pits vampires in an epic, ongoing battle with werewolves. Where this rivalry came from, I don't know. Nor do I know about ninjas and pirates, for that matter; I guess there's just not enough room in this world for too many fantastical characters at once... Despite the currently "in" subject matter, I'm not thinking that this is going to suddenly be another Twilight. Kate Beckinsale, the leading lady of the first two movies did not come back for Rise Of The Lycans, which will hurt its weekend gross some, and there is an extremely crowded marketplace. Underworld: Evolution opened to $26 million back in 2006, but with less star power and smaller theater count of 2,924 theaters, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans should see a softer $23 million this weekend.

The other new opener is Inkheart, yet another action-adventure-family film from Brendan Fraser, who seems to be reinventing his career around the genre. Inkheart, which is a story about stories in books coming to life, looks a heckuva lot like last year's $100 million hit Journey To The Center Of The Earth, but it hasn't had as much of an advertising push as that film did. Still Brendan Fraser has proved that he can draw in audiences (I mean, he actually got $100 million worth of people to go see the new Mummy picture!), so this should still have a somewhat solid debut. The Warner Brothers feature is hitting 2,655 theaters, and It should find $14 million over the frame.

Over in Oscar bait land, three films are moving into wide release. Slumdog Millionaire, which is all but a lock for Best Picture at this point, will add over 800 theaters this weekend for a total count of 1,411 theaters, which should lead to a solid $9.5 million. Revolutionary Road, the depressing Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio marriage film, is moving from limited release into 1,058, but it does not have the same playability as Slumdog. Remember, this is the EEE, and people don't want to be sad! Give it $5 million over the weekend. Finally, Frost/Nixon, a film that should be thankful for the much-needed Oscar attention, will be expanding into 1,097 theaters. This movie is suffering from the fact that it jsut looks really boring. Give it $4 million over the weekend.

As far as last weekend's openers, Notorious and My Bloody Valentine should fall hard, while Hotel For Dogs and Paul Blart: Mall Cop should see much smaller declines. Gran Torino will reamin a power player on the charts. Here are my predictions:

Predicted Top 12 for January 23-25
1. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans - $23 million
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $18 million
3. Gran Torino - $15 million
4. Inkheart - $14 million
5. Hotel For Dogs - $11 million
6. Slumdog Millionaire - $9.5 million
7. My Bloody Valentine: 3D - $9 million
8. Notorious - $8 million
9. Bride Wars - $6.5 million
10. Defiance - $5.5 million
11. Revolutionary Road - $5 million
12. The Unborn - $4.5 million

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10 Films That Defined My Childhood

on Thursday, January 22, 2009   8 comments

So the longer I work on The Box Office Junkie, the more I learn about this crazy world known as the blogosphere. What's my latest realization? That people are unnaturally obsessed with lists. Top 10s, 25s, 50s 100s, it doesn't matter- people will eat them up. I started to think about myself, and I realized that I love and read them too! Well, I've never been one to doubt the collective crowd's choice of entertainment, so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon! Each week, on Wednesday (I know its Thursday- I forgot to post this!), I will deliver a Top Ten list for the week. My first list is pretty simple: 10 Films That Defined My Childhood. I'm a proud member of Generation Y (yes, that's an old picture of me), and I think the list reflects that. Take a look and see if you agree:

10. Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie
I was in love with Kimberly, scared of Ivan Ooze, and wanted to be Tommy. For my 8th birthday, I had all my friends come over to my house in solid colored sweatsuits. My mom cut white diamonds out of contact paper and stuck them on us, and my teenage neighbor came over and taught us karate. For those few hours we were Power Rangers. Fast forward to the Halloween of 2008, when I may or may not have dressed up as the Green Ranger for a night...

9. Toy Story
Oh, I thought this was just the coolest thing I'd ever seen! I remember laughing so hysterically hard at the alien toys in the claw machine and being completely creeped out by the erector-set spider toy with a baby doll's head on top!

8. Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery
It may seem strange to include this movie on this list. After all, it's hardly a kid's movie, and I wasn't even allowed to see it until I was well into middle school, but my friends all saw it when they much younger! They saw it about three years before I did, and never stopped talking about it. It was certainly the bawdiest humor they had seen, and they (and I) thought they were so cool by mentioning it all the time. It's so funny the insecurities you have when you're little, but I was constantly afraid that this conversation would come up, and I'd have to reconfess that I'd never seen Austin Powers. Devastating, right?

7. Snow Day
What a fun movie. Every kid can relate to the utter joy of a snow day. Didn't you ever wear your pajamas inside-out in hopes of a snowy day off from school? Also, when I think of this movie, I instantly think of that random girl, Hoku, singing "Another Dumb Blonde."

6. James And The Giant Peach
I loved the book by Roald Dahl, and I thought this Tim Burton film was so cool and weird, and true to the story. And claymation is just plain cool looking!

5. Zenon: Girl Of The 21st Century
Please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers this Disney Channel Original Movie about a mischievious girl who lives on a space station, but gets sent to Earth. Zenon coined such great phrases as "Cetis-Lapetis," "Spay-Stay," and (not kidding, here) "interplanetary-megastellar-hyrdostatic." The fake band from the movie, Microbe, sang "Supernova Girl," a song that remains a personal classic for me. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! Make my heart go Boom, Boom!

4. Hercules
When I saw this in theaters, it rained so much, that the theater started to flood right at the end of the film. The movie theater felt so bad, that they let the whole audience watch it again on another screen for free! In my opinion, this is one of the most sorely underrated Disney films. It's got its own totally distinct style, characters, and humor, and the gospel infused soundtrack was an utterly inspired move!

3. Harriet The Spy
Besides loveing the movie, there two reasons that this film, which starred Michelle Trachtenberg defined my childhood. First off, it made me start my own journal. I just thought it was so cool how she'd write down everything she was thinking, and look at me now! I'm still writing down what I think, just for everyone to read. Second, it made me start and stop betting. I bet my older brother, Marston, 50 cents that this movie came out on a Tuesday. I was wrong- it came out on a Wednesday. I cried for about an hour when he demanded the payment, and I was so distraught about it, that I did not bet anyone else until I got to college.

2. The Lion King
Here I am again with a crying story... But it was Mufasa! Who didn't cry?! This remains one of my all time favorite movies, and certainly my favorite soundtrack of any Disney film. The Lion King became even cooler to me in high school, as I had a truly revelatory moment when reading Hamlet. "Oh my gosh," I thought, "this is The Lion King!"

1. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
I have probably seen this move about 50 times. It is completely magical to me. The flying and floating car, the crazy inventions, the pirates, the toot sweets, Truly Scrumptious, the purple-haired kingdom, the grandfather, the candyman child-catcher, Hushabye Mountain, the doll on the music box, and the music itself! If you've ever seen the film, you know exactly what I'm talking about, and if you haven't, you're missing out. It's a wonderfully fun, fantastical story that I will never forget. I still watch it once or twice a year, just to feel the sense of adventure, romance, humor, and fun. Take a look at this video if you aren't convinced of how cool Chitty Chitty Bang Bang actually is, and then go buy it. One of my favorite movies ever.

So there's my list! I hope you liked it! What's your Top Ten list? What films would you add/take away from mine? And do you like the weekly list idea? Let me know in the comments!

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I'm So Over The Oscars.

on Thursday, January 22, 2009   2 comments

If you read The Box Office Junkie, you know I despise the Academy Awards, but I'm a film blogger, and I feel obligated to post these. The most boring, stilted, pretentious, fickle, unreasonably admired awards show of all of time just released their 2009 nominations. Of course, fan favorites The Dark Knight and Wall-E were shunned from the Best Picture race because they were released in the summer and actually appeal to large audiences. Instead, we get The Reader?! Ugh. Here are the nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards, announced this morning: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Best Picture
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Reader"
"Slumdog Millionaire"

Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"
Sean Penn, "Milk"
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"

Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"
Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road"

Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, "Doubt"
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"

David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"
Gus Van Sant, "Milk"
Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"
Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"

Check here for a full list of nominations. Gosh, the Academy sure is in love with Benjamin Button... The only parts of this entire list that makes me happy is the fact Slumdog Millionaire is being recognized and that Robert Downey Jr. got nominated for his work in the uproarious Tropic Thunder. I'm pretty angry that Wall-E did not get the Best Picture nomination it deserved. Being stuck down in the Best Animated Picture category is a slap in the face to the beautiful, flawless film.

Honestly, if the Oscars didn't effect theatrical box office tremendously, I wouldn't bother reporting on them at all. They are boring and completely out of touch with the collective consciousness. In their efforts to prove they have good taste, they look over any film that is remotely mainstream, which just isn't fair and makes for a very uninteresting awards season. I truly don't understand their mystique and appeal. They are the very last show in the whole awards season, and they nominate the exact same films that everyone else does! I will certainly not be tuning in. But what about you? Do you agree with me, or am I just a cynic? Anyone else over the Oscars?

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Welcome To The Era Of Easy Entertainment!

on Tuesday, January 20, 2009   5 comments

We're in the middle of a huge economic recession, millions of people are out of work, the news is consistently depressing, the earth is apparently so polluted that a Wall-Eish future seems likely, we're still fighting what seems to be a never-ending battle in the Middle East, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop just earned $39 million over four days in theaters. What is going on in the world, and why are all these terrible things happening at once? To be honest, I can't really tell you anything about those first five- you'd have to ask a Washington insider about those. But when it comes to the issue of Paul Blart: Mall Cop raking in huge profits, let me offer up this explanation: In light of the economic, political, and social struggles that currently permeate our society, we have reached a new stage of culture: The Era of Easy Entertainment (EEE), where popular entertainment has become valued more as a distraction than an artform.

You see, it seems to me that in these tough times, the last thing people want in their lives is any more stress. And yes, if you're wondering, there is a such thing as stressful entertainment. Over the last few years, movies centered on war have completely stalled at the box office. Even high profile releases like The Good German ($1.3 million), Flyboys ($13 M), The Great Raid ($10 M), and Flags Of Our Fathers ($33 M) have had trouble finding an audience. The best performing war-themed picture was 2005's Jarhead ($62 M), but even that failed to live up to expectations. Still, if these films were to be released right now, I predict that they would do even worse at the box office than they did in their original theatrical runs. Why? Because people are tired of bad news! People are tired of war and fighting and not knowing what is going to happen next! And now, as the economic foundation of the country starts to crack, people are eager for something consistent and comforting. Where have they turned? To easy entertainment.

With exception of Nothing Like The Holidays ($7 M), every single comedy that has been released in the last two months has been a solid hit. Role Models earned $67 million. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa earned $178 million. Four Christmases earned $120 million. Bolt earned $113 million. Yes Man earned $93 million. Marley And Me has earned $134 million. Bedtime Stories has earned $105 million. Bride Wars has earned $40 million. And Paul Blart: Mall Cop opened to $39 million! The average T-Meter on RottenTomatoes for these films is 39%, so it's not like these are just the best films out there right now. Yea some of them are great, and others are truly awful, but I think it's more that right now, people just truly want to laugh and smile. Think about all the people who lined up in droves to go see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Don't you think they knew that it wasn't going to be a magnificently memorable work of art? What they did know was that it would be safe enough and fun enough to provide them with a pleasant distraction from the reality of life, if only for a couple hours.

But this trend isn't just limited to film. Look at the general trends of television viewing this season. The sitcom, which many pronounced as "dead" a few years ago, is now back in full force. Shows like The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and 30 Rock have seen massive 35-45% increases in their viewership this season, despite network television ratings being universally down. And it's not just comedy that makes up the EEE. No, some entertainment is just "easy," like television's number one new show, The Mentalist. The show does absolutely nothing to break the mold of a typical CBS procedural crime drama. It follows a very predictable formula each and every episode, and audiences aren't complaining. In fact, because it requires so little thinking, and the mystery is always wrapped up by the end of each episode, it's pulling in almost 19 million viewers every week. Shows like Lost or 24 should be glad they launched when they did, because they would never break out in 2009- they just require too much thinking, too much stress!

There's no telling how long EEE will last. It is the reason that films like The Unborn and My Bloody Valentine: 3D have done so well lately. These are horror flicks, yes, but they are also proedictable and fun. It is the reason dogs are the hottest thing in Hollywood now. They don't need to be able to act or speak- they're cute and make people feel good. So long as people are worried about our failing economy, horror films and comedies and movies that advertise the fact that they are fun, will continue to thrive. Already, the box office is having an incredibly lucrative winter season because people have made it very clear that right now they don't need a ton of drama- they want some simple comfort instead.

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DVD Sales: Pineapple Express Is High...On The Sales Chart, That Is

on Tuesday, January 20, 2009   0 comments

DVD Sales Notes for the week ending January 11:

-Pineapple Express found a solid debut on the home market with about 1.5 million units sold, for a $31 million week. Along with horror movies and geek-oriented films, stoner comedies tend to be pretty frontloaded (buying these DVDs is perhaps the only time that potheads will actually rush to do something), so it'll probably descend quicker than most other films. Still, this is a nice opening week for an $87 million earner

-Righteous Kill, Babylon A.D., and Bangkok Dangerous are three films that I probably would have forgotten about completely had I not seen them on the DVD Sales chart this week. A sore reminder that Robert DeNiro, Vin Diesel, and Nicholas Cage will basically take whatever work they can get, these films earned $40 million, $22 million, and $15 million, respectively, in theaters. So, while their opening week of DVD sales, with debuts in the $10 million range, is pretty poor, it's not so bad when you look at the theatrical grosses.

-I never understand why TV series do this! Battlestar Galactica - Season 4.0 ($7 million in sales) came out on DVD just a few days before the premiere of its final season. I prefer when television shows, like The Tudors ($2.8 M) or Lost ($2.9 M), give audiences a few weeks to refresh their memories before the new season starts.

-You have to give The American Girl brand a little bit of credit: they just won't give up on trying to parlay the popular dolls ito a viable film franchise! Unfortunately, they hit another bump in the road with An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong, which sold a meager 84,873 copies, for a $1.4 million week. But don't cry- stand strong, Chrissa!

-It'll be another two or three weeks before Prince Caspian crosses the $100 million mark, but diehard Narnia fans are already bashing Disney for their decision to disassociate with the franchise. I've already seen numerous people use the "solid DVD sales" of Caspian as evidence that Disney should have stuck with the fantasy films. Well, I hate to break it to you guys, but The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe wasn't struggling to hit $100 million on DVD. It earned $354 million in DVD sales!

Top 30 DVD Sales For The Week Ending January 11
RankTitleUnits this Week% ChangeTotal UnitsSales this WeekTotal SalesWeeks in Release
1 Pineapple Express 1,481,203 -.-% 1,481,203 $31,394,098 $31,394,098 1
2 Righteous Kill 571,596 -.-% 571,596 $12,080,167 $12,080,167 1
3 Babylon A.D. 421,550 -.-% 421,550 $10,676,808 $10,676,808 1
4 Bangkok Dangerous (2008) 419,181 -.-% 419,181 $9,737,114 $9,737,114 1
5 Eagle Eye 344,972 -73.9% 1,857,596 $6,419,860 $39,215,777 2
6 Dark Knight, The 226,772 -63.9% 12,850,580 $4,564,716 $270,419,281 5
7 Battlestar Galactica - Season 4.0 216,552 -.-% 216,552 $6,927,498 $6,927,498 1
8 Mamma Mia! 214,182 -59.4% 5,689,946 $5,018,070 $124,212,688 4
9 Duchess, The 144,804 -26.6% 342,121 $2,519,705 $6,015,472 2
10 Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia 134,790 -.-% 134,790 $2,694,452 $2,694,452 1
11 Horton Hears a Who! 127,175 -43.8% 4,032,389 $2,221,289 $70,158,862 5
12 WALL-E 115,534 -58.1% 10,602,018 $2,007,854 $182,041,468 8
13 Iron Man 114,793 -11.5% 9,954,260 $2,428,354 $186,193,549 15
14 Disaster Movie 114,497 -.-% 114,497 $2,517,789 $2,517,789 1
15 Tudors - The Complete Second Season, The 111,683 -.-% 111,683 $2,790,958 $2,790,958 1
16 Resident Evil: Degeneration 109,461 -63.4% 408,479 $2,394,722 $8,372,092 2
17 Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The 104,129 -63.2% 2,461,139 $1,853,923 $44,879,412 4
18 Kung Fu Panda 103,684 -41.5% 9,025,059 $1,838,048 $148,831,122 9
19 Step Brothers 103,240 -43.1% 3,274,060 $2,128,747 $60,551,855 6
20 Wanted 102,499 -63.7% 4,261,795 $2,017,129 $87,780,491 6
21 Hancock 94,501 -50.6% 5,703,418 $2,067,805 $113,804,505 7
22 Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The 91,390 -63.8% 5,906,713 $1,448,577 $97,479,068 6
23 Death Race 89,465 -63.4% 1,002,433 $2,128,211 $23,994,322 3
24 Burn After Reading 88,428 -64.8% 994,924 $1,565,282 $18,054,525 3
25 Traitor 85,720 -35.2% 776,943 $1,465,838 $13,753,095 4
26 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 85,465 -.-% 6,246,354 $1,534,233 $129,528,738 13
27 American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong, An 84,873 -.-% 84,873 $1,441,992 $1,441,992 1
28 Ghost Town 84,571 -43.0% 232,956 $1,740,894 $4,873,108 2
29 Lost - The Complete Fourth Season 79,308 -32.0% 1,050,209 $2,975,422 $39,997,807 5
30 Tropic Thunder 71,939 -42.8% 3,148,433 $1,542,811 $62,423,371 8
All Numbers Provided By Nash Information Services via The-Numbers

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