Aliens have invaded the box office! Sony’s "District 9" shot to the top spot, as the R-rated sci-fi/actioner abducted $37 million from moviegoers over the weekend. Flying under the radar until San Diego’s ComicCon, the Peter Jackson produced film cost just $30 million and utilized a clever ad campaign that drummed up some serious buzz over the last couple weeks. Based on the best-selling book of the same name, Warner Bros. "The Time Traveler’s Wife" debuted in third place, with a very solid $19 million, despite a strong showing from "Julie & Julia" in its second weekend. Paramount Vantage’s R-rated comedy, "The Goods," starring Jeremy Piven, delivered a sixth place finish, selling $5.3 million in tickets. Walt Disney’s Japanese import, "Ponyo," unspooled in under 1,000 screens with a respectable $3.5 million and ninth place. Debuting outside the Top 10 was Summit’s "Bandslam" which got slammed up against the curb, grossing just $2.2 million in over 2,000 sites. Apparently, tacking on an exclusive "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" trailer did absolutely nothing for business, as Summit Entertainment now knows the highest highs and the lowest lows of theatrical distribution in the modern era.
First-time director Neill Blomkamp’s "District 9" isn’t your typical blockbuster. A thinly veiled commentary on Apartheid in South Africa, the film is also a hybrid mish-mash drama/sci-fi/doc/action film. And in the end, it also plays out like an adult version of "E.T." So its no wonder it took the brass at Sony a while to figure out exactly what to do with this film. Well, mission accomplished. Sure, this film may prove too strange to stick around for very long, as there are no stars and no aliens cracking jokes and reeling off one-liners. But on the positive side, it’s gratifying that a smart, compelling film can actually take the #1 spot at the box office. When’s the last time that’s happen in the summer months? Smart and summer don’t usually go hand in hand--maybe there is hope!! And for those who love the genre, this could be the start of the next wave of sci-fi at the cinema. Far out, man!
"G.I. Joe" dropped to second place as expected in weekend #2, storming up $22.5 million and off nearly 60% vs. last weekend. Still, the action extravaganza has grossed $98 million in just 10 days, which puts it on course to be a solid earner, despite its estimated $175 million budget. Yo, Joe…expect a sequel.
"The Time Traveler’s Wife" was expected to do well, as love has fared particularly well this summer. With "The Proposal" grossing over $155 million and "(500) Days of Summer" rolling with $17 million, and "The Ugly Truth" approaching $80 million, it would seem that there is always room for a summer romance amidst the blockbuster giants. No doubt it helped having been based on a novel that had been a chart-topper for some time.
In fourth place, "Julie & Julia" sold $12.4 million worth of tickets in its second go-round, easing just 41%. With $43 million, the Nora Ephron film was certainly hurt by direct competition, but held relatively strong. Next weekend will be the true test for the legs of this film, although there seems to be room for both films to find more sappy audiences to indulge in.
Sticking to their guns, the guinea pigs of "G-Force" held down the #5 spot with $6.9 million and $99 million overall. Another mission now seems unavoidable for Disney and their pint-size posse. Talking animals, I bow down to your greatness!
In limited release, Sony Classics’ doc "It Might Get Loud" was the big winner in the per theatre average department. The documentary on the electric guitar screened in seven sites, grossing $101,000 for a PTA of over $14,000.
Next weekend be prepared to face the basterd children of summer: Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez return! This is no Grindhouse team-up however--this is mano y mano…sort of. QT is back with his latest joint, a WWII fantasy film about Jews hunting down Nazis in occupied France. Rolling out in over 3,000 theatres, and with plenty of well-deserved positive buzz, this should take the top spot with $30 million. Weinstein Co. hasn’t had a hit in what seems like forever, so a lot is riding on this debut. Hot on QT’s heels will be his partner-in-crime as Rodriguez’ kiddie film "Shorts" also debuts in over 3,000 theatres. Remember "Spy Kids" opened with $26 million and together with its two sequels the franchise has grossed over $300 million, so Warner Bros. obviously has high hopes for what seems like a summer toss off. Expect high teens to low 20’s. Fox releases "Post Grad" in nearly 2,000 sites, but expect failing grades for this flimsy flick…much like their other teen angst bomb this summer, "I Love You Beth Cooper," which opened with $4.9 million. Disney is also in the mix with "X-Games 3D" on 1,200 screens. Hard to say if this new endeavor will attract audiences, but it will certainly be watched closely by the industry. If it does upwards of $7 million, it will likely be considered a success.
Aug 16, 2009