US Box Office Report: Hellboy cleans up

The summer of comic book hits continued, as Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army stormed to the top of the charts...

Hellboy 2: shaping up very nicely...

The weekend faceoff has been decided. The blood puddles are being mopped up, the teeth have been swept into the gutters, and there’s a new box office champion this weekend. He’s big, he’s red, and I saw him on Friday. With a $34.5 million dollars taken in at the box office, Guillermo Del Toro’s visually staggering Hellboy II:  The Golden Army beat back both new challengers and old favorites to rise above the box office fray.

The other two heralded new releases couldn’t manage to unseat Hancock ($32 million) for second place at the box office. The closest to Will Smith’s flawed superhero was Journey to the Center of the Earth, which discovered a secret pocket of money in the middle of the planet and managed to escape from the lava with $21 million dollars.  Not bad considering it’s a gimmick film designed mostly for 3-D theaters but released broadly to try to get the most bang for its marketing buck. It’s doing very well on 3-D, too.  Could we see a return of that subsubgenre of films?

The other opening, which I dumbly figured would do well, was Eddie Murphy’s comedy Meet Dave, which stumbled mightily.  The film managed only seventh place at the box office, bringing in an anemic $5.25 million dollars.  If you remember Eddie Murphy’s last science fiction comedy, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, you might remember it managed only $7 million dollars worldwide, so the $60 million dollar Meet Dave won’t be a bomb on the same level as the $100 million dollar Pluto Nash.  For greater perspective, fellow comedy Get Smart, which has been out for a month, came in at sixth place with a very impressive $7.2 million bones.

For an interesting take on how the comedy was wrested from the control of screenwriter Bill Corbett, check out this blog post here.  He doesn’t badmouth anyone, and he mostly had a good experience, but like most original writers he’s got no idea how much of what he wrote made it into the final product.  I had hoped for a better performance, if only to make Bill look good in the eyes of Hollywood, but considering it’s not really his film anymore I can only hope they don’t blame the box office performance on him.  The more MST3K writers who become successful in greater Hollywood, the better.

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Fellow comic book adaptations Wanted (fifth place, $11.9 million) and The Incredible Hulk (ninth place, $2.3 million) continue to perform well at the box office.  It’s been a banner year for comic book movies so far, thanks in no small part to the omnipresence of Marvel Studios.  With Batman looming in the shadows once again next week, this trend is only going to continue as more and more properties get mined for their movie potential.  Talk is The Dark Knight is looking at an opening weekend on the larger side of $130 million bucks.

Animation juggernaut Wall-E continued to perform well, both with the critics who aren’t me and with the general public.  Another $18.7 million dollars in the kitty, a nice showing in fourth place at the box office, and a gross of $166 million in the US alone, with big roll-outs waiting in the wings for the rest of the world in the coming weeks and months.  You might think these days that a non-worldwide opening would be a bad idea, considering how easily spoilers travel via the internet, but what do I know?  Kung Fu Panda, the other big animated film of the summer thus far, brought in $4.4 million dollars for an eighth-place finish.  It should hang onto the top ten for next week, but tenth-place ($2.3 million) Kit Kittredge: An American Girl will be falling out of the top ten no matter how next week’s new releases go.

Speaking of next week, a little film called The Dark Knight is released.  Have you heard about this?  Apparently, there’s this comic book hero called ‘Batman’ who flies around, hangs upside down, eats bugs, and then does superhero stuff, probably because he was bitten by a radioactive bat or something. I haven’t heard anything about it, since the marketing has been so low-key and subtle, but apparently the kids are very excited about it. I’m sure it’ll be a laff-riot, since we know how funny those yucksters the Katzenjammer Kids are in their funny pages.