St. Patrick’s Day is Monday this year. How unfair is that? Then again, that’s probably the safest day for it to be. Who do you think got a rawer deal: St Patrick – now enshrined by reckless drinking and green beers – or Jesus, whose resurrection is celebrated by eating candy bunnies and chocolates? You’d think it’d be Jesus, who apparently now died for the sinfully delicious taste of chocolate and mallow. But how many Saints were fall down drunks — besides that gorgeous sack of drunken charming Eva Marie? Next thing you know, it’ll turn out that Halloween was based on a serial rapist being castrated or some such shit. “Enjoy these chocolates in honor of turning creepy Randall into a eunuch.”



WEIGHING THE FORTUNES OF THE LATEST DR. SEUSS FILM

Last week I talked about how some studios and filmmakers love their release dates, and this weekend proves to bolster my theory (well, it’s not a theory, it’s a fact, but you know, whatever). Fox’s 3-D animation team Blue Sky loves the mid-march release as it’s when they launched Ice Age in 2002 to a $46 Million dollar opening and went on to a $176 domestic. Three years later they followed up with Robots, which opened to $36 and finished out at $128. Then, next year (albeit at the end of March) in 2006 came Ice Age 2, which opened to $68 and finished out at $195.

What Robots’s lacking gross points out (though the film was surely profitable with ancillaries, etc.) is what Bee Movie also faced along with a number of Dreamworks’s Non-Shrek-based computer-animated features, and that’s a decline in audiences for CGI films based on the previous ones. They got burnt by A Shark’s Tale, they weren’t that crazy about Over the Hedge, though the lowest grosses so far have been Bee Movie (with $126 Million) and Robots.

For this title, you’ve got greater family built-in recognition, though, with the attachment of Dr. Seuss and one of his best known and loved works. But (as Russ points out) that was a fairly short book. This worked with Jim Carrey (and Ron Howard) before with How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which opened to $55 Million and closed out at $260 (and that’s 2000 money, which is – sadly – a different animal altogether). But then you also have The Cat in the Hat, which opened to $32 Million, and closed out at $101 with some very creative accounting (Rule #1 in Box Office: Always be suspicious of conveniently round numbers, see also: this).

What Russ is saying is that the film is good. What Russ is saying is that it’s nothing special. What Russ is saying is that we’re missing the point. What Russ is saying
is that we all heard the rumors that they want to send a monkey up
first. Well, none of us wants to think that they’re gonna send a monkey
up to do a man’s work. But what Russ is saying is that what they’re
trying to do to us is send a man up to do a monkey’s work. Us, a bunch
of college-trained chimpanzees!

Sorry, I had to. With the front loaded box office, and the solid though somewhat wounded leading actors, it should open and open big. But what’s big? Or, more to the point, what’s big enough? Jim Carrey and Steve Carell likely don’t get Shrek-sized paydays for this, but the production and development process on these projects is not exactly cheap. But then with films like this you also have the babysitter factor in that parents will buy films like this regardless of quality to become the opiate for their children’s desire to be sated.

LITTLE DARLIN, HERE COMES THE PREDICTION, AND I SAY, IT’S ALL RIGHT

There’s Michael Haneke’s Funny Games remake hitting 300 screens this weekend. Devin recently made some comments about The Foot Fist Way, to which this ties in. This is a polarizing film, to which the film is getting some glowing reviews and others scathing. People have been turned off by the trailer. This is likely the most challenging film at the box office this week, would likely make for a horrible “date night” film, and might disturb offend or possibly just annoy you. But its experience will likely be indelible. Mainstream audiences have not been into films like this for a very very long time, and if they were it might have also just been posturing. The studio is letting it go, because they don’t know how to sell it, because the audience who might be into it hasn’t been cultivated, and you can’t sell it to the horror crowd, but you’re also going to have a hard time selling it to the arthouse crowd. A critic is told never to blame the audience, but – when you look day in day out at the numbers, and at how much people can reject things that they might like or not, but offer a richer palette of experiences (for better or ill) than – say – seeing something like Horton or 10000 B.C., it’s hard not to feel like Prez teaching his math class. The deck has been stacked against interesting films.

the good news is that 10,000 B.C. will take huge hit. Never Back Down is coming from Summit Entertainment, and promises fighting and Djimon Hounsou – who can nimbly jump from Oscar nominated films to exploitation without ruining his stock. Geraldine Ferraro thinks it’s because he’s got a crazy name and that gives him an advantage. She’s so crazy! Expect the film to play to some kids who have already seen killer Ostriches. Same with Doomsday, which has a fun trailer and limited screens. It looks to be the best trash of the week. Huzzah.

Whereas Horton should hear around $50 million this weekend, and I’m going to say a hair or two under. That’s my math on all those films, that it does close to the first Ice Age business. It could get as high as $60, and the x factor, as always is children. but it has the prints, and it has the vacuum.

So, baby, hit me one more time:
1. Horton See a Ho (the Elliot Spitzer story) -$48.7 Million
2. 10,000 Maniacs (will put you to sleep) – $13.8 Million
3. College Road Trip – $7.5 Million
4. Doomsday (expect this review title: Dumbsday)- $5.6 Million
5. Never Say Die… or Back Down or Get Rick-Rolled - $5.4 Million

And then Sunday I’ll be putting out the fire… With gasoline!