She’s yet to celebrate her 30th birthday, but Emma Stone has already been wooed by Jonah Hill, battled zombies, and smooched Spider-Man — and this weekend, she faces off against Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes, so now seems like a pretty good time to take a look back at some of the brighter critical highlights from her growing list of film credits, while inviting you to rank your own favorites in the bargain. We’re romancing the Stone, Total Recall style!
Warm up your electrified fooling machine: April 1st is here! Once you’re done putting ice buckets atop doors, gluing your co-workers’ stuff to their desks, and faking your death in a car explosion and then disappearing for years afterwards, come check out this week’s gallery of the 24 biggest, greatest fools from movie history!
After kicking off her movie career in Superbad as the high-school hottie throwing the cool party, Emma Stone is rapidly carving a niche for herself as a young actress with good comic chops. Her latest outing is the fright-com Zombieland, in which she plays one of four human survivors (with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin) blowing away zombies in America. Rotten Tomatoes meets up with an actress who, as she explains, was instructed to move to LA by a voice in her head…
Emma Stone: I read the script and told my agent I loved it and then I auditioned with a lot of other very cool actresses who probably would have been way better for the part than me. I auditioned with Jesse — we did some improv together. I knew he was going to be amazing in the movie.
ES: I had never done any action before and I’m not very good at running so that was hard. I kept injuring myself. Other than that, it was just fun — learning how to shoot guns and pretending to be a bad-ass.
ES: I got to shoot a lot of zombies but my favourite thing was to watch Abigail shooting them. She is way more bad-ass than any 12-year-old I’ve ever met. Needless to say, there were nights that it was incredibly scary and you’re being chased by 30 ravenous extras dressed as zombies.
ES: Yeah! On the second day, Abbie and I had to be chased by something like 30 zombies and it was two o’clock in the morning and I was really overtired. I started getting these paranoid thoughts that one of them was really crazy. I was like, How do you know you can trust these people?! So we’re running from these people and shooting at them and in my mind I’m thinking, What if one of them snaps and attacks me? I got myself into a paranoid tizzy about it.
Stone in Zombieland
ES: No, I moved out to LA when I was 15 and I didn’t get my first role until I was almost 18 so I was lucky to have most of my teenage years off camera. Not to say I haven’t had breakout acne explosions since on camera! That’s been nice.
ES: I had a revelation in history class, sixth period. I was 14 and in my freshman year, and that night I made a presentation to my parents to move to Los Angeles. Two months later, my mom came with me. I auditioned for three years and nothing happened and finally I got Superbad.
ES: It was this feeling that overtook me… it was like a voice and it’s happened a couple times throughout my life, and all it said was, “You have to move to LA right now.” And I hated LA — I’d been to LA before, I still can’t stand it. In fact I’m moving to New York I hate it so much.
ES: Well, I was like, “Why?” And it said, “Because if you don’t, you’re going to regret it.” I don’t know why I had to do it right then but I can tell you those three years of rejection completely built me into having the guts to keep going. I was having breakdowns — “What am I doing? I’m 15 years old! I have no friends! I’m not in school — why did I need to do this?” But I kept pushing through it, and I’m so glad I got rejected for so long because things fall into your lap when you least expect it. Superbad was my first movie and I made that in what would have been my senior year of high school. So follow your gut. Your gut will tell exactly what to do when you need to do it.
ES: Yeah. My mom loved Saturday Night Live and Gilda Radner. She would do Gilda Radner impressions and she showed me old Saturday Night Live when I was about seven. The first movie I ever saw was The Jerk. By the time I turned nine, I knew The Jerk and Animal House and Planes, Trains and Automobiles by heart. I watched them on a loop. I think I just connected laughter to love and immediately that was what I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be on Saturday Night Live. Gilda Radner was my hero. And Diane Keaton and Ruth Gordon…
ES: Diane Keaton’s. She can do anything. Everyone references Meryl Streep and Meryl’s untouchable — but Diane’s really untouchable too.
Stone with Abigail Breslin on set.
ES: No, but I met Cameron Crowe – he’s one of my favourite directors – and ever since I’ve been too afraid to meet Diane. He was waiting for me at the top of the stairs at a premiere. He said, “Emma?” and put his hand out and goes, “Cameron Crowe.” And I shook his hand and I started crying. I went [voice breaking], “Hi…” I cried in front of Cameron Crowe and it was so embarrassing. So I could never meet Diane! I’d get way too emotional. She would think I was a nutcase.
ES: I don’t know yet. It’s a great feeling. It’s fun to be scared again. God, I hope I get work!
ES: [laughs] Oh God, no! No, I can promise you that will not be happening. It was a fun movie though.
ES: Buy my first bottle of Pinot Grigio. I’ll be legal drinking age — yeah!
Zombieland hits UK cinemas on Friday. It’s out now in the US and arrives in Australia on 3rd December.
This week we’ve got CG spectacles (Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), Meryl Streep letting loose (Mamma Mia!), Joss Whedon’s online superhero musical (Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog), and High Def Grinding (Death Proof and Planet Terror on Blu-ray), so dig in!
Sometimes, the third time is not the charm – even when Jet Lit is juggling magic glowing balls in the air. Critics and audiences learned that this summer when the third film in the popular Mummy franchise — adventures that were vibrant, old-fashioned action romps with tongue firmly in cheek — opened to dismal reviews and an underwhelming North American debut. But despite a 14 percent Tomatometer, The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor raked in the dough worldwide and by all accounts can be notched as a success. (At least in dollars.) And hey, it starred two of our favorite Asian movie stars, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh, in a fantastical, mythological, action spectacular, which might just be reason enough to give Mummy 3 a shot — at least, maybe as a rental.
Below, watch a DVD-only exclusive clip featuring stars Luke Ford and Michelle Yeoh from The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Next: Meryl lets loose in Mamma Mia!
ABBA fans, you’re in for a treat! (ABBA haters, you might want to skip ahead.) The Broadway hit show featuring the songs of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid came to the big screen this summer and arrives on DVD this week, just in time for the holidays. Meryl Streep, who earned a Golden Globe nomination this week for Mamma Mia, stars as Donna Sheridan, a former pop singer living in Greece with her daughter, Sophie; Sophie, on the eve of her own wedding, issues invitations to three of her mother’s exes in hopes of discovering which man is her father, and hilarity, singing and dancing ensue.
Word of warning: your enjoyment, much like that of the critics, may depend largely on how much you enjoy the music of ABBA (one of my favorites, “Super Trouper,” is performed), how much you enjoy watching erstwhile serious thespian Streep jump on beds and let her hair down, and how horrified you might be at hearing former 007 Pierce Brosnan screech out a tune or two.
The 2-Disc Special Edition includes a digital copy of the film and tons of behind-the-scenes and making-of featurettes. Intrigued by newcomer star Amanda Seyfried? Watch an exclusive clip below to hear her in the recording studio and learn how she was cast as Meryl Streep’s daughter.
Next: Joss Whedon + NPH + Writer’s Strike = an Internet musical phenomenon!
It’s the winter of 2007 and the Writer’s Strike has begun; what’s a filmmaker to do? If you’re Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly), you get a few friends together and create an internet-only “supervillain musical” starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion in a superpowered love triangle for the Facebook generation, and call it Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog!
Dr. Horrible (played by NPH) is a mad scientist by profession who makes various kinds of ray guns (Freeze Ray, Death Ray) and aspires to join the ranks of the Evil League of Evil. Terribly shy in public, he’s got a crush on a local gal named Penny — only Penny’s being courted by Horrible’s nemesis, the shallow, ego-centric superhero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Angst, romance, musical numbers, video blogs and evil plots abound in this delightful tragicomedy, which debuted on iTunes and Hulu and come to DVD this week with a host of fun extras for fans; special features include “Commentary! The Musical,” a sing along musical commentary track to the sing along musical feature.
Next: Anna Faris goes centerfold in The House Bunny
Despite the best efforts of star Anna Faris, who’s quickly becoming the Lucille Ball of her generation, the femme-driven comedy The House Bunny garnered middling reviews. Much of that critical ennui came thanks to a confused grrrl power plot in which Playboy bunny Shelley (Faris) finds herself kicked out of Hef’s pad once she turns 27, then becomes house mother to a sorority full of nerdy girls who teach her to embrace her inner intelligence while she teaches them push-up bras and make-up strategy. To which this 27-year-old nerdy girl says, pfft! The answers to life’s struggles aren’t underwires and eye shadows and a soundtrack full of The Pussycat Dolls, Ashlee Simpson and Avril Levigne. The answer, obviously, is Botox. (Duh.)
The House Bunny on DVD includes features entitled “House Bunny Style” and “Getting Ready for a Party,” a bit on the film’s “nice guy,” Colin Hanks, deleted scenes, and the music video for co-star and former American Idol Katharine McPhee’s cover of “I Know What Boys Like.”
Next: Is Don Cheadle a Traitor?
The coolest thing about Traitor isn’t that it features Don Cheadle in a well-deserved starring role, that he plays a sort of Bourne-ish action hero, or that his character, a Sudanese-American Muslim accused of terrorism named Samir, may not, in fact, be a bad guy; the coolest part is that this timely tale of political spy intrigue and post-9/11 paranoia came from the wild and crazy Steve Martin. Yup, that Steve Martin.
Featurettes, behind-the-scenes video, and a commentary track by Cheadle and writer-director Jeffrey Nachmanoff accompany the film.
Next: The latest from Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock
If you get delighted at the sight of giant food products living the suburban life in New Jersey, then you probably already watch Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force and own volumes 1-5 on DVD. Get ready to add another set to your ATHF collection with Volume 6, which hits shelves this week.
In Volume 6 (which contains nine episodes from Season 5), Meatwad, Shake and Frylock battle with their landlord, join the Marines, and explore MySpace with the help of special guests like Neko Case, David Cross, T-Pain, and John Kruk; special features include Carl’s sports-related blog rants, a 15-minute “Terrorphone” short, and more.
Next: Embed yourself with HBO’s Generation Kill
If HBO knows one thing, it’s how to craft a great mini-series; pick up the seven-part Generation Kill, which first aired this summer and should find a wider audience on home video. Based on Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright’s own experience as an embedded journalist in the Iraq War, Generation Kill follows Wright (played by Lee Terguson) as he joins the Marines of the First Recon Battalion’s Bravo Company at the start of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, bearing witness to the daily lives of US soldiers whose days waver from actual engagement to Jarhead-like monotony.
The three-disc set includes cast and crew commentaries on six of the episodes, video diaries, making-of featurettes, a guide to military slang, and a video in which the real Evan Wright catches up with some of the actual soldiers portrayed in Generation Kill.
Next: Whose-its and whats-its galore!
Audiences of a certain age may remember Disney’s 1989 film The Little Mermaid as one of the more memorable Disney fairytale flicks of the past few decades; now they can share Ariel’s story (and sequel and prequel) with their kids with The Little Mermaid Trilogy box set!
To catch you up: in The Little Mermaid, rebellious teen mermaid Ariel trades her voice to an evil sea witch in return for a pair of human legs, which help her walk, dance, and nab the man of her dreams…but at what cost? In the 2000 sequel, The Little Mermaid II, Ariel’s human daughter Melody finds herself banned from the sea — cruel irony! — yet gets lured into a trap by another evil witch. Finally, in The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, we find out where she got her lifelong love for whosits and whatsits and that she first met her shellfish buddy Sebastian when he was singing at an underground (underwater?) music club…which actually explains a lot.
Next: Grindhouse comes to Blu-ray!
At long last, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s cinematic one-two punch, Grindhouse (or as they’re individually known and sold, Death Proof and Planet Terror), comes to Blu-ray — which means two things: Vanessa Ferlito’s entire lap dance AND Zoe Bell’s high speed game of Ship’s Mast in glorious HD!
Unfortunately, these twin releases are virtually identical to the Uncut and Unrated standard disc issues that previously debuted. We guess the Death Proof and Planet Terror Uber Editions are in production purgatory along with Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair (which, in fairness to QT, is supposedly in the works.)
Next: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”
Tired of Billy Blanks yelling at you with that drill sergeant smile on his face? Can’t follow N*SYNC choreographer-turned-Stomp the Yarder Darrin Henson’s Dance Grooves? Just grab a partner, turn up The Contours, and pretend your name is Baby and that nobody puts you in a corner.
Until next week, happy renting!
Moviegoers were in the mood for suspense as the Samuel L. Jackson cop thriller Lakeview Terrace easily topped the North American box office beating out three new comedy openers. Dane Cook’s latest My Best Friend’s Girl disappointed, the animated pic Igor bowed respectably, while the Ricky Gervais starrer Ghost Town played to empty auditoriums. The debuting films joined forces for just $37M in ticket sales falling short of the $63M pumped in last weekend by that frame’s four-pack of new titles. Still, the top ten managed to match year-ago levels.
Sony scored its fifth number one opener of the year with Lakeview Terrace which debuted with a solid $15.6M, according to estimates. The PG-13 film about a veteran cop that terrorizes an interracial couple that moves in next door to him played in 2,464 theaters and averaged an impressive $6,331 per site. Produced for about $20M, Terrace connected with adult audiences despite stiff competition in the marketplace for mature moviegoers. According to studio research, 69% of the crowd was over 25 while 56% was female. For Jackson, it was a chance to flex some solo muscle at the box office as the film had no other stars in it. An effective marketing campaign by the studio’s Screen Gems unit also helped to deliver results. Reviews were not too positive, but ticket buyers instead responded to starpower and a good promotional push.
Last weekend’s number one film Burn After Reading held up well in its second frame. The caper comedy from the Coen brothers grossed an estimated $11.3M falling a reasonable 41% and lifted its ten-day cume to a solid $36.4M. The George Clooney-Brad Pitt pic enjoyed a smaller decline than those seen by other wide releases from the Oscar-winning filmmakers. 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty, which also starred the former Batman, dropped 48% in its second weekend while 2004’s Tom Hanks starrer The Ladykillers fell by 44%. Focus looks to ride Burn to the vicinity of $65M.
Dane Cook’s newest comedy failed to live up to the numbers posted by his previous efforts. The romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Girl, which also stars Kate Hudson and Jason Biggs, bowed to an estimated $8.3M from 2,604 theaters for a weak $3,187 average. That was a hefty 39% below the $13.7M of Cook’s Good Luck Chuck from this same weekend last year, and 27% behind the $11.4M debut of Employee of the Month from October 2006. All three were released by Lionsgate in roughly 2,600 locations. Girl carried an R rating and earned the same negative reviews the comedian routinely sees from critics.
Debuting to respectable results in fourth place was the new animated comedy Igor with an estimated $8M from 2,339 playdates. The PG-rated film averaged $3,425 and faced no competition in its quest for family audiences. Pre-release expectations were low since it is not based on any popular brand name property. The MGM release has no other kidpics to face next weekend so it may avoid the large drops seen by most other films.
Three sophomore titles followed. The Robert De Niro-Al Pacino cop flick Righteous Kill tumbled 53% in its second weekend to an estimated $7.7M ranking fifth. With $28.8M taken in across ten days, the Overture Films release should eventually reach $40-45M. Kill has already become the top-grossing film for the new distribution company which made a name for itself this summer with the indie smash The Visitor.
Tyler Perry’s latest hit The Family That Preys took a tumble in its second weekend falling 57% to an estimated $7.5M. The drop was nearly identical to the sophomore slides of 58% and 57% for past films Madea’s Family Reunion and Daddy’s Little Girls, respectively. Lionsgate has banked $28.4M in ten days with Family and should find its way to around $40M by the end of the run. Picturehouse witnessed a sharp decline for its chick flick The Women which fell 48% in its second outing to an estimated $5.3M. With $19.2M collected in ten days, the ensemble film could reach the neighborhood of $30M.
Good reviews meant nothing to the new Ricky Gervais comedy Ghost Town which opened poorly in eighth place with an estimated $5.2M. Averaging a mild $3,436 from a subdued wide release in 1,505 locations, the PG-13 film about a dentist that can see and speak to spirits also stars Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni. The target audience of mature adults had many other options to choose from so competition was tough, plus Gervais has yet to prove himself as a box office draw who can sell tickets. The DreamWorks production was released by Paramount.
Warner Bros. spent its tenth weekend in the top ten with The Dark Knight which grossed an estimated $3M, off just 29%, for a towering $521.9M domestic total. Overseas, the gargantuan smash raised its cume to $455.7M giving the superhero blockbuster a stunning $977.6M worldwide. That puts Knight at number four on the all-time global blockbusters list after Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest which all topped the $1 billion mark. Bruce Wayne should become a box office billionaire in early October. Sony’s leggy hit The House Bunny rounded out the top ten dipping 33% to an estimated $2.8M pushing the cume to $45.7M.
September is when top distributors start rolling out their awards contenders and this weekend saw two of them generate sensational launches. Paramount Vantage unveiled the Keira Knightley costume drama The Duchess in seven theaters in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an estimated $203,000 for a sizzling $28,932 average. Attracting mostly good reviews, the PG-13 film will expand into the Top 20 markets this Friday. Warner Bros. rode into twice as many theaters with its Ed Harris-directed Western Appaloosa which collected an estimated $258,000. Averaging a sturdy $18,429 from 14 sites, the R-rated pic stars Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renee Zellweger, and Jeremy Irons and will expand nationally on October 3.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $74.6M which was off only 1% from last year when Resident Evil: Extinction opened in the top spot with $23.7M; and down 3% from 2006 when Jackass: Number Two debuted at number one with $29M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya,
A four-pack of fall films from specialty distributors fueled a resurgence at the North American box office led by the caper comedy Burn After Reading from the Coen brothers which made off with the number one spot. Solid bows also greeted Tyler Perry’s newest story The Family That Preys and the Robert De Niro-Al Pacino cop thriller Righteous Kill which landed in second and third, respectively. The female-empowerment pic The Women opened in fourth with lukewarm numbers. The four new titles accounted for a whopping 77% of all money spent on the top ten films. It was also the first time that four September films ever opened to double-digit millions on the same weekend.
Just six months after winning the Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture, Joel and Ethan Coen scored the largest debut of their career and first-ever number one opening with the crime caper Burn After Reading. The R-rated comedy grossed an estimated $19.4M giving Focus Features the biggest debut in company history and its first top spot bow as well. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and recent Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton, the ensemble film averaged a terrific $7,320 from 2,651 sites. The previous bests for the Coens came from 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty and 2004’s The Ladykillers which bowed to $12.5M and $12.6M, respectively. Reviews were generally good for Burn which benefitted from starpower, cross-gender appeal, and good will created by their triumphs with No Country For Old Men. The performance also comes as good news for Focus which has struggled since 2005’s Brokeback Mountain.
Tyler Perry scored yet another hit with his latest film The Family That Preys which opened close behind in second with an estimated $18M from 2,070 locations. The Lionsgate release played in the fewest locations of any new pic and its solid $8,705 average was tops among all wide releases. The filmmaker’s loyal fan following came out once again giving Perry his third impressive debut in under a year. Last March, Meet the Browns opened in second place with $20.1M and a $10,011 average while last October saw Why Did I Get Married? premiere to $21.4M and a $10,618 average. Both were Lionsgate titles released in just over 2,000 theaters. The audience was dominated by African American adult women just as with the Atlanta-based director’s previous films. According to studio research, 82% of the crowd was black, 82% was over 25, and 79% was female. Perry returns once again on February 20 with his next comedy, Madea Goes to Jail.
The pairing of screen legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino led the new action thriller Righteous Kill to a third place debut with an estimated $16.5M in ticket sales. The Overture Films release averaged a solid $5,235 from 3,152 theaters and played to an audience that was not as male-oriented as was expected. In fact, the serial killer drama’s audience was slightly more female (51%) while mature adults led the way as 69% of the crowd was 25 or older. Reviews were not good, but starpower drove the sales as moviegoers wanted to see the first pairing of the two men since Heat which opened to $8.4M in 1995 on its way to $67.4M. Kill differed in that the Oscar-winning actors played partners and actually had numerous scenes together for the first time. Pacino nailed his best opening in a lead role since 2002’s Insomnia ($20.9M) while for De Niro it was his highest since 2005’s Hide and Seek ($22M).
Posting the weakest debut among the frame’s new titles was the remake The Women starring Meg Ryan which bowed to an estimated $10.1M from 2,962 theaters for a mild $3,406 average. Co-starring a long list of actresses such as Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, and Candice Bergen, the PG-13 film attracted harsh reviews from critics. Women is the final film from Picturehouse and only really had strong appeal to one quadrant – females over 25. With the weekend’s other new releases also generating interest with adult women and boasting more male appeal to help bring in couples, the Diane English-directed pic faced intense competition during a time that traditionally sees only so many dollars circulating in the marketplace.
Leading all the holdover pics was Sony’s hit sorority comedy The House Bunny with an estimated $4.3M, off just 22%, for a $42.2M cume. Tropic Thunder followed close behind dropping 42% to an estimated $4.2M raising its total to $103M for Paramount and DreamWorks. It is the 15th summer film to join the century club and was joined by Will Ferrell’s Step Brothers which reached $100.1M on Sunday to become the season’s 16th blockbuster. Journey to the Center of the Earth should become the final film to join the list as it sits at $98M to date.
Dipping only 27%, The Dark Knight continued to draw in audiences in its ninth weekend. The Warner Bros. megahit took in an estimated $4M and pushed its domestic cume to a towering $517.7M. Getting closer to the billion dollar club, the Caped Crusader pulled in an estimated $6.7M overseas this weekend to raise its international tally to $448.9M and its worldwide gross to a stunning $966.6M. The Dark Knight climbed up to number five among all-time worldwide blockbusters in between 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($970M) and last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($961M).
Three star-driven action thrillers rounded out the top ten. Nicolas Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous collapsed in its second weekend tumbling 69% to an estimated $2.4M falling from first to eighth. The Lionsgate release has collected a meager $12.5M in ten days and should finish with only $18M making it one of the actor’s worst-performing action movies ever. The Don Cheadle pic Traitor fell 50% to an estimated $2.1M while Jason Statham’s Death Race fell 46% to an estimated $2M. Totals are $20.7M and $33.2M for Overture and Universal, respectively.
Four films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Fox’s Vin Diesel actioner Babylon A.D. dropped 58% to an estimated $1.8M for a weak $20.3M total to date. The sci-fi flop should limp to a $24M finish. The runaway hit Mamma Mia! took in an estimated $1.7M, off just 39% in its ninth session, and boosted its North American tally to $139.3M. A final of about $145M seems likely. Universal’s highest-grossing film of the year also shattered the $300M overseas mark with an estimated $17.5M this weekend. That put the amazing international sum at $307M and the global gross at a stellar $446.3M. Produced for $65M, Mamma Mia! will easily take in over $500M at the worldwide box office by the end of its run.
The spoof comedy Disaster Movie dropped 47% to an estimated $1.6M giving Lionsgate just $12.7M thus far. Look for a pitiful $16M by the end of its run. Sony’s stoner hit Pineapple Express took in an estimated $1.1M, off 52%, for a $86M cume. The $27M production should end with a robust $88M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $83.1M which was up 39% from last year when The Brave One opened in the top spot with $13.5M; and up 47% from 2006 when Gridiron Gang debuted at number one with $14.4M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya,
Moviegoers found almost nothing worth paying money for at North American multiplexes as the top ten films at the box office slumped to their lowest gross in five years giving the new fall movie season a disastrous start. Nicolas Cage’s latest thriller Bangkok Dangerous suffered one of the worst action openings ever for the Oscar-winning actor, but thanks to a sluggish marketplace it was good enough to claim first place. Summer holdovers performed relatively well with five pics in the top ten dropping by less than 40%, but most wide releases crawled to averages of less than $2,300 as theaters struggled to find ticket buyers.
Bowing to only $7.8M, according to estimates, Bangkok Dangerous enjoyed a less-than-spectacular number one debut with a lackluster $2,943 average from 2,650 locations. The R-rated hitman pic gave Cage his second worst opening for an action film since becoming a major player in that genre with 1996’s The Rock. Over that twelve-year span, only last year’s Next posted a weaker debut for an action film with just $7.1M and a $2,618 average. Reviews were poor and Lionsgate’s marketing push was moderate at best.
The weekend after Labor Day is typically one of the slowest frames of the year. With students back in school and a new football season starting, studios generally avoid opening any strong films at this time which in turns helps the box office slow down. But this year with a major tropical storm hitting the east coast and election hoopla getting bigger after the political conventions, moviegoing just was not a priority for people. The top ten films grossed a dismal $47.6M making it the worst showing since this very same weekend in 2003 when the top ten stumbled to $46.2M. The Top 20 grossed $59.7M that year and is estimated to reach $61M this weekend. Factor in ticket price increases and less stubs were definitely sold this time around. Final grosses to be reported on Monday will show if this entire frame will come in lower than that sluggish session from five years ago when David Spade’s Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star led the chart with only $6.7M in its debut weekend. Bangkok also delivered the smallest gross for a number one film since Dickie.
Following its three-week rule of the box office, the war comedy Tropic Thunder retreated back to a close second place finish with an estimated $7.5M dipping only 35%. After its fourth weekend, the Paramount release has collected a solid $96.8M and should cross the century mark next weekend. Sony’s comedy The House Bunny climbed up one notch to third with an estimated $5.9M in its third session dipping only 29%. Total stands at $37M.
The Dark Knight dropped only 34% to an estimated $5.7M and raised its amazing North American cume to $512.2M. Overseas, the Warner Bros. sensation raked in an estimated $11.8M boosting the international tally to $437.2M which allowed the worldwide gross to soar to a staggering $949.4M. The Christian Bale-Heath Ledger showdown now sits at number six among all-time global blockbusters sandwiched right between last summer’s megahits Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($961M) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($938M).
Don Cheadle’s political thriller Traitor held up well in its second weekend dropping 41% to an estimated $4.7M to push the 12-day tally to $17.7M. The Overture Films release should finish off in the vicinity of $30M. The Vin Diesel actioner Babylon A.D. fell 58% to an estimated $4M for Fox putting the ten-day total at $17.2M. A $25M final should result.
Another macho action pic Death Race followed with an estimated $3.6M, off 43%, giving Universal $29.8M to date. The spoof comedy Disaster Movie slipped 44% in its sophomore session to an estimated $3.3M. Lionsgate has seen just $10.9M in sales and should conclude its run with a mere $19M or so.
Two successful summer comedy leftovers rounded out the top ten. Mamma Mia! eased 36% to an estimated $2.7M boosting the stellar domestic cume to $136.3M allowing it to enter the top ten list of summer blockbusters. Universal’s singing sensation smashed through the $400M worldwide mark this weekend thanks to a stellar international frame that saw an estimated $15M. That was enough to push the overseas sum to $280.1M and the global gross to an eye-popping $416M. Mamma is now Universal’s top-grossing film of the year both domestically and worldwide beating out the studio’s many action offerings like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Wanted, and The Incredible Hulk which all cost more to produce.
Sony’s stoner comedy Pineapple Express took in an estimated $2.4M, down 32%, and has grossed $84.2M thus far.
The top ten films grossed a pathetic estimate of $47.6M over the weekend which was down 23% from last year when 3:10 to Yuma opened in the top spot with $14M; and off 3% from 2006 when The Covenant debuted at number one with $9M in its opening frame.
Studios dumped out their usual trash over Labor Day weekend and moviegoers responded by avoiding most of them. That allowed Robert Downey Jr. to rock both the opening and closing ceremonies of the summer movie season as Tropic Thunder retained the number one spot for the third consecutive weekend. Five films opened or expanded nationally and were scattered all across the Top 20, most with weak results. Meanwhile, The Dark Knight moved up a notch in its seventh session and broke through the $500M mark over the long holiday weekend putting an end to what turned out to be a better-than-expected summer box office.
Still ahead of the pack for a third time, Tropic Thunder grossed an estimated $14.3M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend and lifted its impressive total to $86.6M after 18 days of release. The Ben Stiller-directed war comedy saw its three-day take of $11.5M drop only 29% from last weekend and joined the Batman juggernaut as this year’s only films to rank number one for three or more weekends. The $90M DreamWorks production is on course to end its run in the vicinity of $110M for Paramount which coincidentally also kicked off the summer blockbuster season at the top in May with Iron Man.
Leading all new releases, but lacking muscle, was Vin Diesel’s return to the action genre with Babylon A.D. which bowed to an estimated $12M over the long holiday weekend. Fox’s latest clunker enjoyed the widest launch by far among debuting titles but generated a lackluster $3,540 average over four days from 3,390 theaters. During the Friday-to-Sunday portion, the R-rated thriller grossed $9.6M for a weak $2,822 average. Babylon A.D. capped off a summer that the studio would like to forget following such misfires as Meet Dave, The Rocker, and The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Some were not costly films and others Fox just distributed for a fee, but the studio still failed to score a $100M+ summer grosser for the first time in eleven years.
The comic book overachiever The Dark Knight smashed through the $500M mark and placed third in its seventh weekend with an estimated $11M. Warner Bros. bumped its stunning cume up to $504.7M and surpassed the quintuple century barrier on Sunday in its 45th day of release. The new Batman epic has now sold approximately 70 million tickets beating out Spider-Man which snapped up roughly 69 million stubs in 2002. Knight is on a trajectory to end its North American run with about $525M translating to around 74 million admissions. Overseas, The Joker’s antics attracted an estimated $19.2M boosting the international total to $417M and the global gross to an eye-popping $921.7M. That was enough for The Dark Knight to break into the all-time top ten list of worldwide blockbusters. Shattering the $1 billion mark is a virtual guarantee.
Sony’s sorority comedy The House Bunny ranked fourth for the weekend with an estimated $10.2M over four days in its second term. The Anna Faris starrer has grossed a solid $29.8M in 11 days and could finish in the neighborhood of $45M. The budget was only $25M.
Overture Films saw a respectable debut for its Don Cheadle political thriller Traitor which bowed to an estimated $10M over the long weekend and $11.5M in the six days since opening on Wednesday. The PG-13 pic landed in 2,054 theaters and averaged a good $4,869 over four days representing the second best average among films in wide release. Reviews were somewhat positive.
Jason Statham’s latest action offering Death Race fell to sixth grossing an estimated $8.2M over the long weekend pushing the 11-day total to $25M. The $45M Universal release should end up with $35-40M.
Moviegoers finally said no to spoof kings Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg as their newest comedy Disaster Movie flopped taking in an estimated $6.9M over four days. Opening in 2,642 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a weak $2,604 for Lionsgate. Disaster‘s three-day bow of $5.8M was less than one-third of what the filmmakers saw on opening weekend for their most recent hits Meet the Spartans and Epic Movie which both debuted at number one with respective takes of $18.5M and $18.6M.
Two hit comedies followed. Universal’s musical sensation Mamma Mia! sang to the tune of $5.8M, according to estimates, and raised its cume to $132.9M. The studio released a new sing-along version in selected theaters on Friday which helped give sales a boost over the holiday weekend. A final domestic tally of $140-145M could result for the $65M songfest. Sony’s stoner hit Pineapple Express collected an estimated $4.5M and took its sum to $80.9M. The final gross for the $27M production should reach $85-90M.
Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona popped back into the top ten with an estimated $3.5M over four days. The MGM release has now taken in $13.3M which is an impressive number for the veteran filmmaker. The Javier Bardem tale also generated the best average among all movies in wide release. Look for a final take at or slightly north of $20M.
With seven other comedies ahead of them on the charts, two new R-rated laughers stumbled in wide release this weekend grossing less than $3M each over four days. MGM’s teen pic College failed miserably with an estimated $2.6M from 2,123 locations for a dismal $1,241 four-day average. Focus expanded its expensive Sundance acquisition Hamlet 2 from 103 to 1,597 theaters in the second weekend and walked away with just $2.1M, according to estimates, for a pitiful four-day average of just $1,330. Cume for the Steve Coogan pic is an embarrassing $3.1M which will not help the distributor recoup the $10M it paid for the indie comedy. Hamlet 2 is shaping up to be this year’s Happy, Texas which Miramax bought for around $10M at 1999’s Sundance but grossed a measly $1.9M from 146 theaters in commercial release that fall.