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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: ‘Bangkok Dangerous’ leads, barely, a BO bloodbath

Ugly is the only word for the abysmal performance of just about everything at North American multiplexes this past weekend. Variety says it the “shakiest start in years” for the fall box office — things haven’t been this bad since 2000. Just look at how dismal these numbers are:

1. Bangkok Dangerous: $7.8 million
2. Tropic Thunder: $7.5 million
3. The House Bunny: $5.9 million
4. The Dark Knight: $5.7 million
5. Traitor: $4.6 million (dropping 41 percent in its second week)
Could be it was simply the lack of new quality stuff that kept moviegoers away. Bangkok Dangerous, the only new wide release, was not screened for critics, which means no reviews were available on Friday. It was probably easier for the studios to disguise that fact in the days before the Net, when all a potential moviegoer had to go on was the local paper… and might miss the fact that a review was missing while heading for the theater showtimes. Now, all a geek need do is check out Rotten Tomatoes… the Net demo knows what no reviews on opening day means: stinker. And the Net demo was the audience for Bangkok. Even bad reviews (those critics who checked it out over the weekend, like yours truly, collectively give it only a 13 percent Fresh rating) probably would have been preferrable to none. Maybe teenage boys don’t pay attention to reviews — that’s the studios’ party line, anyway — but they sure do like to rag on us clueless critics, which they could have been having a lot of fun doing last week, perhaps even to the point of being driven to the film out of pure spite for us clueless eggheads. Instead, that obviously didn’t happen: hardly anyone went to see Bangkok at all.

Hardly anyone went to see anything. Per-screen averages, which are usually quite high for indies and foreign films, indicating massive interest in the few cities where they’re playing, were low this weekend. The highest were earned by:

Sukiyaki Western Django: $5,100 on 1 screen
I Served the King of England: $4,241 on each of 17 screens
Frozen River: $3,461/91 screens
Elegy: $3,394/142 screens
Vicky Cristina Barcelona: $3,066/718 screens

For comparison’s sake, Bangkok’s per-screen was $2,943.

Upcoming milestones: Both Tropic Thunder and Step Brothers will pass $100 million this week, and will become the 15th and 16th movies to do so in 2008 so far.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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