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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

North American box office: ‘Up’ up and away

Pixar triumphs again. Is there anything they can’t sell us?

1. Up: $68.1 million (NEW)
2. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: $24.4 million (2nd week; drops 55%)
3. Terminator Salvation: $16.4 million (2nd week; drops 61%)
4. Drag Me to Hell: $15.8 million (NEW)
5. Star Trek: $12.6 million (4th week; drops 45%)

actual numbers, not estimates
Up didn’t have the biggest opening ever for Pixar, but we’re quibbling over a mere few million here — which, when we’re talking nearly $70 million over a single weekend, ain’t much. It’s sort of refreshing, actually: the Pixar movies are sweet, honest, smart, and gentle, and still they connect with audiences. It gives me hope that someone else may catch on and try to make more movies like that, especially since they’re clearly so lucrative.

And here’s another smart movie doing well: Star Trek is now the top grossing movie of 2009, with a cumulative total in North America after this past weekend of more that $209 million. Monsters vs. Aliens is a somewhat distant second, at a little over $194 million. But there’s still lots of year left to go.

Business was down over last year by just a few percentage points, but down nonetheless. Still, Night at the Musem 2 and Angels & Demons passed $100 million this weekend (though Angels is unlikely to earn back, domestically, its $150 million budget), and Terminator Salvation will pass that mark next weekend.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past skipped over the $50 million mark, which just makes me sad and mad: it means we’ll be assaulted with yet more crap like this.

I’m sad, too, to see Drag Me to Hell debuted so relatively poorly. I never expected it would get the kind of numbers that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man flicks got — that would not be reasonable, since most people were drawn to those not by Raimi but by the character. But I did think more of those folks would have been drawn to Drag by Raimi’s name, at this point. It is Raimi’s biggest non-Spider-Man opening — though, once adjusted for inflation, his 1999 movie For Love of the Game, which opened at a smidge over $13 million, would probably come out ahead. That one probably sold itself on star Kevin Costner, though, and there were no big names in Drag.

On a per-screen basis, however, Drag was second only to Up among wide releases:

Up : $18,085/3,766 venues
Departures: $8,327/9 screens
Pressure Cooker: $8,151/1 screen
Easy Virtue: $6,383/26 screens
Drag Me to Hell: $6,310/2,508 venues

Night at the Museum 2 was down at No. 7 ($5,939/4,101 venues). Terminator and Trek were out of the top 10, at, respectively, $4,562/3,602 venues and $3,597/3,507 venues. So there’s some good news for Raimi. There’s no reported budget yet for Drag, but his movie will have been a helluva lot cheaper to make than any of these other wide releases, and so may end up being just as profitable on a return-on-investment basis.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]



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  • RogerBW

    I’m quite impressed at just how thoroughly Terminator: Salvation is crashing and burning. When The Asylum’s ripoff of your franchise is a notably better film than the official one, it’s definitely time to worry.

  • PaulW

    Is there anything they can’t sell us?

    Sane Republicans?

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