House opens at The New Beverly this weekend if you’re in Los Angeles, along with Mystery Team at the Nuart. A good weekend for movies in Hollywood.


Short answer: no. Not until it’s over.

Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone should have an okay showing, and after the two Bourne films both Damon and Greengrass earned a right to have a modest misfire. This has the possibility of being the biggest hit of the lot, as the closest thing to a success on this has to be Charlie Wilson’s War, which $66 Million, or The Kingdom, which did $47 Million. As has been widely reported the current best picture winner The Hurt Locker did $13 Million.

Compare this to Platoon, which did $138 Million, Full Metal Jacket‘s $46 Million in 1987, and Apocalypse Now‘s $78 Million in 1979. Of course you can argue that films like The Wild Bunch, Bonnie and Clyde and many many others that were addressing Vietnam at the time. And to be fair, there have been a number of modern films that have dealt with Iraq and the new world of terrorism. You can see it in the Bourne films – most action films, really – The Dark Knight, Avatar, and the rise of “Torture Porn” horror films like Hostel. Realistically, Hollywood wasn’t making the same sort of direct Vietnam war films at the time, other than The Green Berets.

When Vietnam films really started to gain traction was after it happened, when our involvement was over. Though the politicization of war is nothing new, and at the time of Vietnam there were obviously similar pros and cons against being there. Fiction can – at its best – offer closure along with a sense of the experience. Currently there is no closure and without the draft the fear of being a part of Iraq war, and with the human cost on Americans – especially with Bush’s policy of no photos of the coffins, etc. – compartmentalized, there is a greater sense of isolation of what’s gone on and what’s going on. If Vietnam was a national tragedy, and soured the American sense of being the great heroes of World War II, we are not at a point of complete understanding what Iraq means to America as a nation.

There have been some great films made about it so far, but the reason why The Hurt Locker could conceivably be a masterpiece is that it’s concern for the futility and whatever else that could be said about Iraq is background to the main narrative. And surely some who will come to the film now will respect the film is a masterful action film. But as a viewer, it’s hard to sell the idea of seeing a movie about what’s going without having a point beyond a thesis to be agreed with, and getting preached to by the choir hasn’t gone over that well since Michael Moore ruined that tract with Fahrenheit 9/11. But that was a moment where all good liberals were drawn to a film to get told something they could agree with, and a number of good Conservatives went to hem and haw. But that, like Platoon, was a zeitgeist moment. The Green Zone doesn’t have that.


Alice in Wonderland sure kicked some ass last weekend, and it pulled great weekday numbers as well, so it should be right next to $200 by the end of the weekend. $250 seems to be a likely end point, but unless it exceeds expectations it should be a steady drop with the right quick DVD and Blu-ray release. There’s four wide releases, with Green Zone the biggest. She’s Out of My League looks to be a Apatow clone, and doesn’t seem particularly well marketed. They should have been able to do this one cheap, so there’s that. Remember Me could be a spoiler, and Patterson is like a Vette that way, but probably not. Our Family Wedding suggests that Carlos Mencia may get more film work if this is successful. I hope they paid Forest Whitaker well enough.

1. Alice in Wonderland – $45 Million
2. The Green Zone – $17.3 Million
3. She’s Out of My League - $9.8 Million
4. Remember Me – $9.5 Million
5. Our Family Wedding - $9 Million

I think it’ll be a cluster, and Shutter Island could sneak in there. By friday Shutter Island crosses $100, the third Scorsese to do so (after The Aviator and The Departed).