|1||The Help||$20 (-.5m)||$20,479,000 (-21%)||$7,613||$71,801,170|
|2||Rise of the Apes||$15 (-1.3m)||$16,300,000 (-41%)||$4,696||$133,764,360|
|3||Spy Kids 4
|5||Fright Night||$14.5 (+6.2m)||$8,300,000||$2,665||$8,300,000|
|6||The Smurfs||–||$8,000,000 (-41%)||$2,617||$117,744,505|
|7||Final Destination 5
|8||30 Minutes or Less
|10||Crazy, Stupid, Love
Avg. CHUD Prediction Difference: +/- $3m
Cop out or not, I told you it would be a tough weekend to call, and that only The Help would be walking away clean. What I didn’t foresee was every one of the new major releases underperforming to such a profound degree that one may as well run with a “facepalming stockbroker” picture that they always put on the front page after a bad market day. Maybe I can check the newswire and find a pic of Harvey Weinstein with a big ole frown holding an iPad or something. Hang on…
Best I could do, and frankly Harvey will be wincing the least out of anyone that released a major film this weekend. Dimension’s Spy Kids 4 still managed the number 3 spot, despite an 8-year gap that more than halved the last opening of a Spy Kids film.
Let’s start from the top and run it down, shall we?
Well duh The Help. A tiny drop keeps the flick, which is still coasting on water-cooler buzz, at the top spot without breaking a sweat. It’s a little early in the fall for this to keep serious awards momentum, but it’s going to make dough like whoah. It’s definitely sticking around in the top 5 for a while, and still has many weeks of success left ahead of it. I wonder if they’ll regret not dropping it a little bit later, when awards buzz could have grabbed the baton and kept it going even farther.
Apes is continuing to level out like a well-received flick will, but the benefit of extremely weak contenders the last two weekends has meant it’s been able to do so in the top two! Good for the Apes, and I’m glad Fox has an example of good things coming from a modest production that was centered around telling a solid story in an interesting way. Now it’s just time for them willfully ignore the implications of that, and continue with pissing us off at every turn.
Next up after the aforementioned Spy Kids is Conan which, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, is the most painful flop of the weekend. It’s a piece of shit and all, but that didn’t keep Lionsgate from hoping for a decent return on their $90m 3D fantasy flick. NOPE! Even their own conservative projections for the weekend were 50% generous, and if anyone was hoping to see a Momoa-written sequel happen… Well, also nope. I’m still not sure how Clash of the Titans ended up being the success it was, but apparently whatever audience coughed up the dough for that one weren’t interested in a cheapie knock-off that stank from day one. Bad reviews (not bad enough, in many cases) and a general blandness kept anyone from taking a chance with it, the R-rating is preventative for lest discerning youngsters, and the core is ultimately a minuscule group. At least Momoa’s got Game of Thrones going for him.
Poor Fright Night. It was certainly everyone’s best option of the new flicks this weekend, but a soft critical reception and a murky bunch of trailers just couldn’t cut it. You can’t take the angsty sex out of vampires these days it would seem. Farrell is an A-list presence without an A-list audience, and it was mostly on him to draw people in to a film branded off of a cult hit that’s remembered with more fondness than rabid enthusiasm. It was the right kind of film to remake (in a creative sense) and they did so in the right way (from where I sit), but you’ve got to make the tweens wet or the fanboys hard, and this did neither. Dr. Who fans don’t count for shit at the box office either, so it will slide quietly into the frightening night.
All three of this weekend’s flops are in 3D, which will be read as a thing by people who don’t understand (or don’t care to acknowledge the complexity of) cause and effect, and have an agenda. These films would have flopped 3D or not, where as had they caught on in any way, or even managed enough people to show a pulse, the premiums would have boosted the numbers enough to save studio face. They lost nothing extra, but had the dice rolled a bit differently for any of them. So yeah, mark another tally in the “of course 3D is dying” column, while The Smurfs and the highest-grossing-yet-modestly-attended films of the year laugh in your face. The studios have no reason to stop.
It’s a shame, but Attack the Block isn’t blowing the doors off in its limited release and another small expansion into half a dozen or so new cities only brought in 80k this last weekend, bringing its total to $50m. I can only imagine the film’s theater run will be slaughtered at the altar of VOD too soon. In a summer where Woody Allen has quietly hovered in and out of the 10-spot to gross over 50m, it’s a sad thing not to see geeks, horror fans, cult aficionados, raise up and drive this to something greater. It’s easy to stand back with arms crossed and cluck about it never having much of a chance, or saying that it’s been pushed too hard for too long, but that’s a spectacularly lame attitude. Even if all of the screening audiences had been made to pay to see it the increase in box office would be negligible and it’s a ridiculous argument to make that audiences didn’t show up because they were tired of hearing about it. Even for all of our online huffing and puffing all year, the general public just don’t know and don’t get it.
This may seem like preemptively striking out at strawmen, but if you can’t muster any more of a response than to have “called it,” then don’t bother. For all of the pandering, simple bullshit that’s been held up this summer as fun executions of nostalgia, the real gift to genre movie lovers was a little alien movie filled with adolescent hoods. It deserved better than we were apparently able to give it. Maybe there’s hope yet– perhaps this really is a long-fused little movie primed to burst. Audiences have surprised me before…
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention… While this weekend was a buffet of dead-on-arrival flops, the week’s CHUD Video actually racked up more views faster than any episode before it. Take a look if you haven’t already.
Got thoughts on the triple flop, 3D, or Attack the Block? Twitter, comments, boards — bam.