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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: ‘Ice’ twice as nice, ‘Benchwarmers’ pretty warm

Audiences can’t get enough of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (which I’ve really gotta see now), which saw a huge dropoff at the box office from its debut last weekend and still managed to haul in $34.5 million over its second weekend. Some of the film’s tremendous success surely is thanks to the Scrat, the squirrel-like critter who stole the first film and has a beefed-up role in the new one. As the film’s director Carlos Saldanha told Sci Fi Wire:

In the first movie, Scrat was only in the beginning and end and sort of was forgotten in the middle. But now we’ve given him a part that makes sense that we keep coming back to his character and see what he’s doing. I can relate to Scrat. He’s the finest. I think a lot of people can relate to his determination.

As Chris Wedge, who directed the first film, produced this one, and gave voice to the Scrat in both, said, before the film opened:

Audiences tuned in to Scrat right away [in the first movie], because everyone relates to an underdog. Now that we’ve given him new dimensions for the second film, we expect an even bigger response to Scrat.

Looks like they got it.

Hiding The Benchwarmers from critics doesn’t seem to have hurt its box office chances: it took in $20.5 million in its first three days. Critic Roger Moore, at the Orlando Sentinel, was — apparently inadvertently — accorded the opportunity to see the film in advance, as he explains in his blog:

I go see the movie Monday night as an invited member of the press….

I write a review, not the nastiest ever, but close enough.

It’s posted on our KRT wire service. It’s the only one there. Nobody else saw it.

And next thing you know, Sony people, from marketing, advertising and the like (apparently not communicating with one another) are calling us, and newspapers planning on running the review. Calls to Dallas, Kansas City, Toledo, and on down the line.

And with the calls from Sony, come the lies. The review is “bogus,” they tell one editor. “Unauthorized.” That I “disguised” myself to get in (a roped-off row for “press” is not exactly incognito) to another. That KRT subscribing papers have to “pay” extra to run the review.

I had an invitation. “You and a guest are cordially invited…” Regional studio rep. forgets to uninvite me, if the studio ever told her to do so. Local rep knows nothing of such shenanigans. And I’ve since been told that the Jacksonville and Tampa paper’s critics also got to see it, but not being wire service providers, weren’t noticed until later. Sony, there’s a hint as to where your problem is. Several Florida papers were somehow invited to two separate screenings. Get the connection?…

Why should you care? Well, please don’t. Not a lot, anyway. Not like a White House that denies access to the press to control news about a trumped up war and cover up its own misdeeds and missteps. Not like the NFL trying to ban TV crews that aren’t on its payroll from sidelines.

But still, if Hollywood is spending millions on it, and they’re proud of their product, what’re they afraid of? The answer is, they’re not proud. They know it’s garbage. And they expect to sucker enough people in opening weekend to be able to afford the next junk-picture they whip up. Don’t let them.


Oh, and reader Greg reminds me that I was wrong when I said on Friday that there had never been a week when two films were opening that had not screened for critics — that actually happened last week, too, when that Larry the Cable Guy movie and Stay Alive both opened unreviewed. I think the fact that I did not haul my ass out to see either film the day they debuted caused that bit of trivia to escape my memory. Thanks for setting me straight, Greg.

[box office results via Yahoo! Movies]

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