“Oh, those numbers are right, all right. Believe me.”
–William H. Macy (Fargo)

March 25th, 2012

To quote Nick at the beginning of each CHUD podcast, “WE ARE BACK(EH).”

We’ve decided to get another box office column going in time for that season where everyone gives a shit, though I’ve remade the format, changed the title, and generally plan to keep things short, sweet, clean, and fun. My hope is this will be a good place for you to get a rundown of the important highlights of the weekend’s box office activity with a little bit of flavor, but without swimming through a lot of bullshit. The box office and the film nerd obsession with it is often suggested to be the sports-fan side of our collective hobby, and while it obviously provides that same sort of statistical high to mix in with our art, there’s no deny that this shit matters. It’s reported cynically, measured stupidly, and weighted disproportionately, but at the end of the day the seeds of our movie-going future are watered each weekend by these numbers.

Naturally we’re starting on a week with a monolith of a franchise starter, as Lionsgate let loose The Hunger Games on a clearly hungry public. But while records were being broken all over the place a few returners did nicely, while a couple of small releases did some impressive numbers as well. So you know, for this column I’ll typically just be detailing the top five and rounding up the rest altogether at the bottom.

I’m happy to hear feedback on this column, including what suggestions you have for what you’d like to see going forward. Cheers!


1. The Hunger Games ($155 million)

[Total: $155 million | WW: $124m | Budget: $78m]

Well this is one for the record books, landing at the number 3 all-time opening smack between Harry Potter 7.2 and Twilight 4.1 (jesus). It’s also got the best debut of a non-sequel, the second best friday-to-Saturday hold, the best all-digital IMAX release, and plenty of other dumb, esoteric records that spell out: “this thing made a shit-ton of cash, and we’re all rich now.”

The film deserves credit for bringing in the ladies with the same fervor typically reserved for sparkling vampires or wizards, while also capturing the eyes of dudes (I’m sure violence and Jenny Lawrence have a lot to do with that). That this thing was made for a price means this is a huge win for Lionsgate (their biggest ever, in fact). I don’t personally think the film is particularly good (actually I think it’s a well-performed, well-directed, poorly-written, poorly-shot, ugly thematic mess), but as best it’s possible to tell the film is pleasing fans of the franchise and bodes well for the health for the other two or three films they’ll string out of it. It’s always interesting to see how these mega-hits hold on their second weekends, as the drop can be a bit harsh if an entire fanbase has blown its load opening night. The thing here is that Saturday’s numbers were especially strong, which could mean this thing could have good legs. Or more appropriately that it is and will continue to be on fire.


2. 21 Jump Street ($21.3 million)

[Total: $71 million | WW: $87m | Budget: $42m]

I’ve yet to see this Hill/Tatum vehicle, but I’ve yet to run across someone who has and not liked it. The enthusiasm is reflected in a strong opening weekend that puts this on track to best Superbad as Hill’s crowning comedy achievement. This should coast strongly till summer blows open, setting it up as a touch contender for most successful comedy of the year. I’ll definitely be catching it this week, as I’m ready and willing to be convinced that Tatum doesn’t suck.


3. Dr. Suess’ The Lorax ($13 million)

[Total: $177 million | WW: $199m | Budget: $70m]

The Lorax enjoyed what will certainly be its final weekend as 2012’s highest-grossing film by raking in another dozen million or so, taking another big step towards breaking $200. It’s already the second-highest grossing Seuss adapatation, but has no chance of beating the $260m (unadjusted) gross of The Grinch from over a decade ago. Still a big win for Dreamworks and their thneed department.


4.  John Carter ($5 million)

[Total: $62 million | WW: $234m | Budget: $250m]

With an abysmal third weekend, Disney must be glad The Hunger Games has finally moved the box office fixation away from the scale of their flop. I by no means wish anything terrible on this movie or anyone involved, but there’s nothing about this failure that shouldn’t have been obvious from the start, and since the film is not terrible good I can’t find any tears to shed. We should have higher ambitions for science fiction than softball Avatar-riffs that inflate weak scripts to epic proportions. Disney needs to realize they can’t just produce giant aesthetic exercises and expect them become healthy iconography-machines. More than any other genre, scifi films needs to be smart and the mouse house has been trying to sell us gussied-up bags of hammers. Stanton and co. did their best to honor some very classic work, but this was a dusty, green stillbirth from the script stage.


5. Act Of Valor ($2 million)

[Total: $66 million | WW: $68m | Budget $12m]

You know it’s the pre-summer season when something can make 2 million dollars and crack the top 5.

In any event… eugh, this shit. This cheaply sentimental, exploitatively faux-patriotic, and clumsily-shot shit.


The rest: There are some accolades worth handing to Samuel Goldwyn pictures for getting October Baby to a nearly two-million dollar opening, considering it’s an abortion drama that nobody has heard of.

Plenty of geeks have heard of The Raid: Redemption though, and a solid sixteen-thousand bucks worth of them showed up to each of the 14 theaters it hit this weekend. That’s a good number, especially since Sony is pushing out a film they have intentions to remake in English this year.

Will Ferrell’s Casa De Mi Padre, which I think is pretty hilarious, has scraped another million bucks together to land just outside of the top 10 and brings its total to just shy of $4m – a swell number for a Spanish-language comedy that virtually nobody will “get.”

Jeff, Who Lives At Home has managed about $1.8 million in two weeks. I guess all that online coverage for the Segal, Helms vehicle didn’t translate into any mainstream awareness. Perhaps Fox Searchlight is a better home for the Duplass Bro’s, since they at least managed to get Cyrusto $7.5m.

Thanks for reading!

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