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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: Will Smith + July 4th still a good bet

For the past two years or so, I’d been covering box office numbers at Film.com. I’m no longer doing that, so I thought I’d see how much interest there may be here, among FlickFilosopher.com readers. I’ll try it out for a few weeks, anyway, and see what kind of response it gets.

I personally abhor the focus on opening-weekend numbers, which has created the blockbuster mentality that Hollywood finds itself locked in at the moment. It means, for the most part, that films are no longer allowed to find an audience: they need to have one right away, and if they don’t, tough noogies on them. It encourages spectacle and a lowest-common-denominator single-mindedness, which can only be a bad thing. That said, because the numbers are a huge factor in what gets made and what gets released when, it’s kinda impossible to ignore them.

So, over the holiday weekend, here’s who earned what:
1. Hancock: $66 million ($107.3 million since opening on Wednesday, July 2)
2. Wall-E: $33.4 million (dropping 47% in its second week)
3. Wanted: $20.6 million (dropping 60% in its second week)
4. Get Smart: $11.1 million
5. Kung Fu Panda: $7.5 million

With Hancock, Smith had his best Fourth of July opening yet, but while that $66 mil is nice, it’s nowhere near the best opening for a superhero movie or the best July opening, and it’s only the third best opening of 2008 so far. Though of course all the numbers can be massaged and interpreted in ways that make the film look better… or worse.

I’m a little surprised that Wall-E didn’t actually do better in its second weekend. These days, a drop of less than 50 percent is considered pretty good — it means not too many people badmouthed the flick after catching it on opening weekend — but I half expected that the film would experience a rare rise in attendance, particularly considering how rapturous the reviews and word-of-mouth has been. Still, it’s sure to be one of the top movies of the year, earningswise, when everything shakes out.

The best per-screen average is on the limited-release side, as is usually the case: The Wackness (which I hope to post a review of soon) earned $24,166 on each of its six screens; compare that to Hancock, which played on many, many more screens but managed a per-screen of $16,645.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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