The Daniel Craig reboot of James Bond has been lucrative for all parties involved. Many have said that Craig has pulled Bond into a grittier, darker world of violence and out of the fantasy land he’d successfully resided in since his official big-screen debut in 1962. Unfortunately, there’s one thing James Bond can’t match up with, and that’s the voracious appetite of teenage girls for maudlin vampire romance novels.
Twilight, based on the book series by Stephanie Meyer, blew away the competition this weekend at the box office, with a final take of 69.6 million dollars. Just pondering this thought makes my brain hurt. The fourth-highest box office gross of the year belongs to a mediocre-looking (I haven’t seen it, and don’t plan on it until the kids are firmly locked away in school) teenage romance that makes Titanic look like Citizen Kane. This movie grossed more in one weekend than every film not named The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This is the biggest non-Harry Potter opening in November history.
James Bond does manage to hold off one competitor, though. Quantum of Solace brings in 26.7 million dollars, while Disney’s computer-animated, non-Pixar adventure, Bolt, brings in $26.2 million in kibble. Bond has crossed over $100 million with ease, and Bolt should do very well this weekend when the kids are out of school and parents are ready to be rid of them after the Thanksgiving holiday. For those of you who don’t know what Thanksgiving is, and that will be most of you, basically it’s a holiday where Americans celebrate killing off the aboriginal population as a reward for their assistance in surviving the first harsh winter in Plymouth. The children are off school for two or three days, plus the weekend, everyone eats way too much food, and in order to avoid talking to one another we watch a ton of sports on TV.
Since I mentioned Pixar, their animation competitor, Dreamworks, continues to perform well at the box office this year. Iron Man, Indy, Kung Fu Panda, and now Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa have all been huge hits this year. Madagascar‘s second weekend sees it bringing in 15.6 million dollars for a gross of 137.1 million dollars and fourth place at the theaters. That number’s just going to continue to rise, considering this weekend has nothing to compete with either family film.
The dysfunctional family situation has continued to do pretty well at the box, too. Be the film comedy, like Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, and the kid that played McLovin in Role Models (5th place, $7.3 million), or weepy drama, like Angelina Jolie and her kidnapped child in Changeling (6th place, $2.69 million). Changeling has to be a pretty good movie, since it has a great pedigree thanks to direction by Clint Eastwood and a script penned by Babylon 5 creator and comics genius, J. Michael Straczynski.
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (7th place, $2.49 million) is the first High School Musical film to play on the big screen. In many ways, this latest Disney creation has proven to work the exact opposite of how The Mouse normally does things. Disney has traditionally had a movie open on the big screen, be a huge hit, then become a TV series or a set of straight-to-video releases. This took two TV movies and built on them, turning a throwaway musical into a film that’s grossed 86.8 million dollars, much like the way they turned Miley Cyrus into a staggering box office success earlier this year.
I think I see how this works with Disney. Animated films start out huge, then get whored out into mediocre properties meant to cash in on the good will of the viewing public. Live action fare builds on TV, then sneaks into theaters to act as a cash grab to offset slumping stock prices until the stars are whored out and become mediocre properties or tabloid jokes (everyone say hi to Britney Spears!).
Places eight and ten at the box office are controlled by a couple of dramas; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas ($1.647 million) and The Secret Life of Bees ($1.26 million). I will not say anything about either of these films, because I don’t know anything about them. I’ve had my fill of sad Holocaust films, and I care little for bees if they’re not The Blues Brothers in bee costumes.
I will, however, talk at length about Zack and Miri Make A Porno. It brought home 1.6 million dollars, and has brought in $29.256 million at the box office, but it begs a question. Seth Rogen has been a money printing machine since his big break-through role in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Pineapple Express brought in 87 million dollars in the US alone, but this film isn’t doing nearly as well despite both of them being R-rated comedies featuring Craig Robinson.
I don’t think this is something you can blame on Seth. This seems to be further proof that whatever Kevin Smith does doesn’t translate into the mainstream. Despite the fact that Smith is one of Rogen’s inspirations, and probably inspired Apatow as well, Smith just can’t light a fire at the box office. He’s The Ramones to Apatow and Rogen’s Sex Pistols and The Clash. Even without adjusting for inflation, Smith’s most successful film remains Dogma, and that was made way back in 1999!
If anything was going to break Kevin Smith out, it was this movie. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in the same movie? You really can’t go wrong with that. Well, actually, I guess you can. Zack and Miri made a pretty good profit, and will do very well on video, but I personally expected much more. I thought this was it for Kevin Smith; it turns out this may be it for his getting a budget over 20 million dollars.
Coming out this week are a slate of films, no two of which are alike. There’s the latest Jason Statham shoot-em-up, Transporter 3, Sean Penn trying for another Oscar in Milk, and Vince Vaughn continuing to destroy his reputation with awful-looking holiday films like Four Christmases. The big winner is going to be Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, which looks to have all the makings of a pretty big success. I’m usually wrong, though. Take that with a grain of salt.
After a brief hiatus, the Weekend Box Office Report is back! US correspondent Ron Hogan is energized, even though he has to admit Kevin Smith’s failure is a bit depressing. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness , and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.