It’s said the studios look at Inception as a one-off success, an outlier, an anomaly… whatever term you pick, they see it as a film the cultural and box office implications of which are too singular to include in the context of decisions made for the future. All of that to say Inception‘s wild success will have a much bigger (very short term) effect on marketing, but it’s not going to get many original big-budget science fiction mindbenders greenlit.
Unless a one off phenomenon plays to the lowest-common denominator narrative the money-holders are already used to, it takes a sustained trend of movie-going behavior to convince them that, say, R-rated adult comedies of reasonable qualities are back in style. So when The Hangover II is a predictable success surrounded by more surprising successes like Bridesmaids and Bad Teacher (which sucks, but some really smart pieces were put into place), it makes a whole lot of sense to cross your fingers for Horrible Bosses to kick the ass of Zookeeper at the box office.
Let me clarify- not a week goes by that I don’t notice someone or another lamenting the obsession with box office among movie fans. It’s reasonable position, but beyond the sports analogies and such that do a little to justify it, there’s always the fact that we want good trends to get noticed and good filmmakers to be empowered. The numbers are the only real way that ever happens. So when there’s an active chance for audiences to follow up the under-performance on one pandering animal comedy by steering clear of yet another rancid piece of shit pandering animal comedy, I hope they/we take it. And when there’s a shot to show the studios that we’ll respond to comedies with well-considered casting, scale, fun, and maybe even the occasional hint of progressive thematic content… well I hope that registers as well. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think there’s really been a truly classic, or world-shattering comedy widely released this year, but there’s been an unusual string of stuff that ain’t shit. We should support that.
Of course, like a Masters tournament in the early 2000s, everyone is really playing for second this weekend as the robots return for their second frame of cash-grabbing. Surely Dark of the Moon will be over a quarter-of-a-billion domestic by Sunday night, and with a word-of-mouth that’s much much stronger than the previous flick (even I mostly liked it!), it could be vacuuming dough for a while yet. The top spot is assured one more weekend before Potter arrives.
Cars 2 will stick around, but it’s really not doing so hot. Might well be enough to ensure that any future sequels are DTV (and perhaps without a Pixar logo, like Planes), and that Disney will remain content to keep that revenue stream a toy/game/clothes thing from now on.
The bottom of the top 5 is a toss up between Crowne and Bad Teacher, and while the later has been doing strong business, a new raunch comedy will likely kneecap it. There’s no other fucking boring-seeming adult dramedy to bump off Hanks, so I’d say the coin is weighted in his favor just a bit.
Let’s pow-wow Sunday, shall we?
Come back Sunday to wonder what the fuck I was thinking with me.