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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: Hellboy smash

You just can’t go wrong at the multiplex with a superhero movie, even if it’s not very good. And by “you,” I mean the studios, of course — you the moviegoer might be disappointed, but they’re already got your money at that point. Take a look at the superearnings of the top five this past weekend:

1. Hellboy II: The Golden Army: $35.9 million
2. Hancock: $33 million (dropping 47% in its second week)
3. Journey to the Center of the Earth: $20.6 million
4. Wall-E: $18.5 million
5. Wanted: $11.6 million
Hellboy II did a lot better than Hellboy did over its opening weekend in April 2004 (it earned $23 million then), but I would have thought, with all the hype and fanboy excitement over this one, that II would have done even better than it did. I don’t think it can be seen as a good thing that Hancock — which is probably about as not-terribly-good as Hellboy II — was nipping so closely at its heels.

It’s interesting that last week’s No. 2 movie, which was Wall-E, also earned $33 million (which represented a drop of 47 percent in its second week), and that last week’s No. 3 movie, which was Wanted, also earned $20.6 million. I dunno what it means that the numbers are so eerily similar, except that it suggests that many people’s choices in when they go to the movies (opening weekend? second weekend? later?) and what they go see may have less to do with the actual movie itself and more to do with logistical issues: like they just wanted to get out of the house and do something, and chose the movie they saw based on what wasn’t sold out at the multiplex. That seems totally bizarre to me — if I want to see a movie, I want to see that movie, and probably won’t be satisfied with anything else. But then again, if there’s nothing I want to watch on TV, I’ll turn the damn thing off, or never turn it on in the first place.

Anyway, this week’s No. 3, Journey to the Center of the Earth, didn’t do quite so well as it appears, according to Studio Briefing at the IMDB:

About 57 percent of the weekend revenue for Journey to the Center of the Earth came from 34 percent of the theaters showing it — those that were equipped with 3-D projection facilities, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Monday). Tickets at the 3-D theaters were priced at $3-4 above those at 2-d-only houses.

In other words, few people wanted to see this movie unless they could see it in 3D, which is exactly the way it should have been — it’s not worth seeing except in 3D.

Good news: Meet Dave totally tanked, debuting at No. 7 earning $5.3 million, even though it was on almost as many screens as Hellboy II.

Meanwhile, Wanted, in its third week of release, passed the $100 million mark (its reported budget is $75 million, so there will be celebrating over this one); Wall-E, in its third week of release, still hasn’t earned back its reported budget of $180 million (though it’s certain to do so, and much more, before the summer is over); and Kung Fu Panda, in its sixth week of release, passed the $200 million mark. And there was much rejoicing.

Best per-screen average of the week: the $13,338 the French thriller Tell No One earned on each of its 18 screens (up from 8 last week, when it debuted). For comparison’s sake, Hellboy II’s per-screen was $11,200.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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