Y’all miss me? Why would you? I got a delivery today of six Blu-rays. That’s really all it takes to make me happy. Copies of Let the Right One In and Silence of the Lambs on BR. That and sex.
ON THE ODD BOX OFFICE
Okay, so Watchmen’s going to fall off a bit this weekend. The real story of the year has been the performance of what amount to four films. Paul Blart, Taken, Gran Torino, and Slumdog Millionaire. David Poland, in his infinite wisdom has suggested that the trend says nothing, that it’s – as William Goldman might argue – “it’s the films, stupid.” And there is something to this argument in the same way that it’s hard to suggest it’s anything else. History and time function in a linear fashion. We can create a number of hypotheses that would lead to the same conclusion. If you suggest that if Paul Blart opened this week, it might do less is no or more valid than suggesting that if it opened at Christmas it would have been dead. We only have one time line to see what happens.
Poland wants to take Torino out of the convo, because it’s – officially – a 2008 film. Whatever. Here is the thing about all of these film’s successes. They play to an adult audience. That’s not that they are adult films, arugably Watchmen is more adult that Paul Blart, but it’s the sort of film (the latter that is) that plays to people outside of the 18-34 age group. Kevin James’s fanbase is because of his TV show, which aired for a very long time, which suggests that people watched it. But the people who were fans of that are likely as old (if not older) than James. Taken‘s biggest star is Liam Neeson. and though the film played, it may not have played to cinema’s target demo.Torino played to Eastwood’s base, many of whom have been watching him in films for over 40 years. And an academy picture also plays to the older demo.
What does this tell us? Is this the economy shitting itself leading more people to the pictures? It’s not fair to say. And to that Poland has a point. Because of the nature of time. But, it does suggest that an audience who normally may have waited for video went to the theater, and such may be why these films performed in a way that was most regular in an earlier generation, where films didn’t just open and fall off, which is how films like Friday the 13th and others have performed. I think the main suggestion is that there is an audience of older viewers who would like to be catered to, but they may be motivated to go to the theaters to leave their homes in the sense that they were motivated to – Cheers style – forget their troubles.
Can you group Coraline in this quartet? It has performed strongly in the face of competition? Perhaps. But that fucks with the schema. We can only design patterns after the fact, us box office people, we can only suggest what seems to be the case. I have always said that this guessing games is about 40% (if not higher) bullshit. People sometimes respond to quality. They sometimes respond to gimmickry. The only truth is that buying a ticket isn’t like voting, but audiences are not necessarily critics, and sometimes the are all too happy to watch something bad and see the good side of it.
I LIKE THE WAY YOU WORK IT (NO PREDICTIONS, GOT TO BAG IT UP)
The question is if Dwayne Johnson in a kids film can trump the opening weekend of Watchmen. The problem is that Watchmen is a smuggled picture. People want to see it as a juggernaut that’s not, and that’s the problem. The picture will make it to $100 and over, but that’s that. It’s a film to be chewed over and any comparisons to Blade Runner (which I have made) are unfair because Blade Runner never made this money. Will Escape to Witch Mountain trump it? Sure. But only people who were rooting for its failure care, and some of those people are only doing so because they didn’t get their happy ending treatment from WB.
So let’s guesstimate. You and I:
1. Race to Which Mountain – $31.5 Million
2. Watchmen – $24.3 Million
3. Last House on the Left - $17.5 Million
4. Taken – $5 Million
5. Miss March - $4.8 Million
And then Sunday you know the drillin.