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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

North American box office: ‘Knowing’ has the numbers

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but the multiplex is fine:

1. Knowing: $24.6 million (NEW)
2. I Love You, Man: $17.8 million (NEW)
3. Duplicity: $13.9 million (NEW)
4. Race to Witch Mountain: $12.8 million (2nd week; drops 48%)
5. Watchmen: $6.8 million (3rd week; drops 62%)

actual numbers, not estimates
Well, in fact, the multiplex is somewhat less fine than it’s been of late: The killer year that 2009 started off as has slowed considerably, with overall attendance down 6 percent this weekend over last year, making it the least busy same-weekend for eight years.

Don’t misunderestimate the power of marketing, though: Nic Cage saving the world from… something vaguely weird and creepy that involves a page full of scribbled numbers did its job and put butts in seats. Not a lot of butts, it’s true — Knowing didn’t come anywhere near breaking Cage’s opening-weekend record, held by Ghost Rider’s $45 million two Februarys back. Likewise, I Love You, Man and Duplicity were in no danger of breaking records in their genres, either.

Watchmen just keeps on diving: down another 62 percent this weekend. Even it drops that much again next weekend, it’ll still pass $100 million next weekend… and it’ll still be considered a disappointment, froma business perspective. Worldwide, it’s just earned back its reported budget of $150 million, but the only lesson the studios could learn from this is that if you want to make a dark, R-rate comic-book movie, it’s gotta get made on the cheap, and you still won’t be able to assume it’s a license to print money.

The reliable flicks of the post-awards season keep chugging along — Taken, Paul Blart, Madea — but I suspect we’ll have to wait till the early blockbuster season ramps up in early May with Wolverine before we see real excitement at the box office again.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]



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