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David Poland

By David Poland

A Surprise, A Car Wreck & A Horse Of Two Stripes

For the second straight weekend, there is a pleasant surprise (at least for the distributor) at the top of the box office charts.   This weekend, it’s  Paramount’s Coach Carter, which looks to pass the $20 million mark, just as White Noise did last weekend.  It may even challenge Save The Last Dance’s $24.4 million as the best January opening ever for Paramount. Funny how things get better when an administration seems to be headed out the door…

On the other hand, Elektra and Racing Stripes are both looking at under-$15 million starts… which is probably more of a problem for Elektra than for Racing Stripes, which could build a loyal pre-teen audience that returns to the film repeatedly over the next two months.  Even with Disney/ABC spending insane amounts of money on TV spots and an outdoor campaign for Jennifer Garner and Alias that comes just short of a direct offer of kinky sex, Elektra hasn’t found an audience any bigger that the core of geeks that show up no matter what they read on Ain’t It Cool News.  One wonders whether they would at least have stirred a greater interest in the public if the film was darker and R rated. 

It’s hard to figure out what’s going on with The Aviator.  The film feels like it’s playing out.  1867 screens is not a terribly wide release.  But how much milk is there in the next 1000 screens?  A $4 million weekend will take the film close to $50 million.  But whether an Oscar nomination is going to be the kind of accelerant that Miramax needs to get the film to $100 million… I don’t know…

Spanglish is still drawing some folks and will pass $40 million sometime in the next week or so.  Surprisingly, it has held up better than Closer, which has found its way into the low $30 millions and should top out under $40 million.

Sideways passed Finding Neverland in daily gross late in the week despite being on one-third of the screens.  The strategy of continuing to hold and even reduce screen count for Sideways, even after three months in the marketplace, is going to prove itself to be genius or an oops in two more weeks.  Million Dollar Baby added 15 whole screens this weekend.  Again, an expansion in two weeks.

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33 Responses to “A Surprise, A Car Wreck & A Horse Of Two Stripes”

  1. Barry says:

    i think elektras getting a bad rap, as a fan of tranny superhero movies I think this is one of the best ever. plus, rob bowman is a great director i guarantee if silk stalkings was still on this guy would be getting alot more work.

  2. Sandy says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t comment on Phantom or Kinsey…where are they in this mix of still Oscar hopefuls?

  3. Mark says:

    Kinsey is DOA now. Coach Carter? Never underestimate the appeal of Sam Jackson.

  4. Neal says:

    Nowhere else to put this, but thought I’d mention it here: The Aviator now has a 90% fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the 93% Million Dollar Baby has. Sideways is still edging both out with 96%, but what’s important is that The Aviator isn’t as critically divisive as it was when it opened. I’d say it had to do with the smug big city critics’ reviews finally being overtaken by those of film writers who choose to look at a film on its own merits instead of getting off on taking down the people they previously put on a pedestal.
    Also off topic (although both films were mentioned in the blog), but I just saw Spanglish and I’m a little mystified at all the hate being thrown around at this film. Apparently critics resent what they perceive as white self-loathing from James L. Brooks–what they are completely failing to recognize is that the film isn’t ABOUT the white family so much as it is about the Mexican mother and daughter. The film is narrated by the daughter, and it opens and closes with them. The actions of the Clasky family are only important in the way that they disrupt, alter, and eventually enhance the relationship between Flor and Christina. Aside from the marital strife (which is barely tidied up by the end of the picture), there isn’t much development on that side of the character fence. The relationship between Sandler’s character and his daughter was fine at the beginning and fine at the end. The poor relationship between the daughter and Tea Leoni’s character was bad at the beginning and is not addressed again.
    What I’m seeing is a bunch of white film critics trying to find themselves in this film, and failing to do so, assuming that Brooks is pointing the figure at them. News flash: The film is NOT about you. It’s about MEXICANS (God forbid! In an English language film!), and Brooks’ decision to not use subtitles only serves to illustrate that point. What right does Brooks have making a film about people whose lives he probably has little perspective on? About as much as white critics have to feel offended by it. Maybe we should ask the opinion of people who can actually relate before getting so worked up. Call it sloppy, or misplaced liberal guilt, but as a portrait of two generations of women trying to understand each other, it is at least the equal of Terms of Endearment.

  5. David Poland says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed Spanglish, Neal… but if the movie is about Mexicans, it is infinitely more insulting.
    This new schtick about critics only liking movies they personally identify with is really beginning to piss me off. So, critics identify with a billionaire who saves his piss? Or with the over-the-hill boxing trainer who destroyed everything he loved and gets one last chance? Is that it?

  6. Lily says:

    Leave it to David Poland to attempt to put a negative spin on The Aviator’s box office. Monday is a holiday meaning that Sat and Sun numbers will be inflated so The Aviator being a weekend movie will earn more then $4mil.The Aviator will be over $50 mil by the end of this weekend, winning the GG drama tomorrow and being the film with the most Oscar nominations on Jan 25 will firmly establish The Aviator as the frontrunner.I don’t know of any film that’s been on less then 2000 screens and out for only a month that would not benefit from being the most nominated film at the Oscars.

  7. Lily says:

    Speaking of Rotten Tomatoes MDB is one rotten review away from dropping to 92%.

  8. martin says:

    Aviator will more than likely lose the GG for drama tomorrow and it will probably lose most categories it is nominated in. Regardless of the quality of the film, it is simply not doing the business or getting the awards that films like Sideways, M$B, hell even Ray is beating it out. No ones saying its a horrible movie, but its hardly the frontrunner this year.

  9. Lily says:

    Sideways is the critics darling and being a critics darling doesn’t mean you win the Oscars that usually means you lose. Sideways did very well at the CC awards but the big news was the poor showing of MDB. Only four votes seperated Sideways and The Aviator for best picture while MDB was back in the pack with Ray and Finding Neverland. Eastwood lost the best director award in a landslide to Scorsese.BFCA clearly preferred Sideways and The Aviator to MDB. Add to that the elimination of MDB in the first round of the BAFTA awards and it’s MDB that’s in trouble.The Aviator will likely lose in most categories at the GG but if it wins best picture and director who cares. If MDB manages only to win best actress that combined with The Aviator being Oscars most nominated film will push MDB back in the pack and make best picture a two film race between The Aviator and Sideways. The Aviator is on the verge of becoming only the second film to be nominated by every guild and it will rule over the guilds as Sideways will not be able to compete. Critics awards are one thing, the guilds, the GG and the Oscars are another. Sideways can have the critics awards I’d rather The Aviator win at the big show.

  10. KamikazeCamel says:

    “Regardless of the quality of the film, it is simply not doing the business or getting the awards that films like Sideways, M$B, hell even Ray is beating it out.”
    Er, from when I last read The Aviator had made twice as much as Sideways and about 5 times as much as Million Dollar Baby, so I don’t know where you’re getting your info from!
    And, it’s actually doing good in critics awards. It’s won a couple of Best Pictures, a few Best Directors, Some Best Supporting Actress wins as well as some technical awards. That’s better than Ray, which is only winning for Foxx. And it’s probably getting the same amount of awards as Baby. Only Sideways is really beating it in those terms.
    You kind of need to get over your Baby Bias, thanks and realise that The Aviator is still one of the three front runners.
    And you say that it will most likely lose most of its catagories at the Globes… well, there’s only 6 catagories so even it wins 2, that’s still a good job. I predict however it will win Best Picture Drama, Supporting Actress and possibly director (I’m thinking Eastwood wins that one). But, still, that’s more than I’m predicting for Baby (director). I still reckon Imelda has got it for Best Actress over Hilary “Look at me, i can STILL have white trash – gimme awards thanks” Swank.
    (by the way, I have not seen either The Aviator, Sideways or Million Dollar Baby (they have yet to be released in Australia) so don’t harp on me about being Aviator biased or anything)

  11. Taiwan Steve says:

    I like any chick in tight dress. I love Elektra. She’s mine. And Rock on, Jennifer Garner!

  12. Katherine says:

    **what’s important is that The Aviator isn’t as critically divisive as it was when it opened.**
    That’s probably due to the fact that critics are sheep more than anything. Once they saw this was going to be “the one to sweep” they didn’t want to be late to the party.
    Don’t get me wrong, it was a good movie and will most likely win tons of stuff at the Oscars, but I’m more than fed up with critics.

  13. Matt says:

    “Elektra” just got a little blindsided by just how big “Coach Carter” has become. It’s also not helped by being a low-star (Garner’s the biggest name) quasi-sequel to a film that while it opened huge, plummeted thereafter. The “Coach Carter” marketing campaign was incredibly smartly played–took the playbook from “Save the Last Dance” and changed it to spin to men more than women. Smart trailer placement helped, too–they had a trailer ready and cut to go before “Friday Night Lights,” which was a perfect match.
    And “Aviator” will wind up doing about 70-80M in the end. I don’t expect it’s going to get the GG on Sunday night (I think that goes to “Million Dollar Baby”), but it will pick up steam when the Oscar nods arrive, since it’s really the only film that’s competitive in both the topline categories and the tech categories–it’s assured of four topline nods (Picture, Actor, Director, Supp. Actress) and four tech nods (Art Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, and Makeup), with possibles in Score, Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Editing.

  14. Rico says:

    What´s so surprising about Spanglish being bigger than Closer? Spanglish certainly looks more accessible than Closer. It cost twice as much and has the social comedy feel to it that made Brooks´ other works 100M+ blockbusters. So Spanglish must be considered a commercial failure while Closer is at least in the black now, more or less.

  15. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Disney/ABC is NOT involved with “Elektra”; 20th Century Fox/Regency released that movie.
    “The Aviator” is playing out regardless of the Golden Globes. “In Good Company” went national this week and eclipsed the Howard Hughes biopic. “Phantom of the Opera” went semi-wide this week and goes wide next week; its numbers show WB is handling its release properly.
    Incidentally, “House of Flying Daggers” went mainstream this week and tanked. Sony Pictures Classics has the worst distribution of any arthouse imprint — they are frightened to have their films in megaplexes. Why doesn’t Columbia distribute SPC the way Fox distributes Searchlight?

  16. martin says:

    Chucky – Dave was referring to the Alias marketing, not the elektra. I personally think Elektra bombed because it got horrible reviews, I mean 6% at rottentomatoes has to be one of the lowest ever. Plus Daredevil wasnt exactly a word of mouth movie and most fans associate the two.. why did they make this again?

  17. Paul says:

    Looks like In Good Company did very good for only 1500 screens. It had about a 1 millon dollar high fri-sat jump that Elektra did.

  18. Mark says:

    Spanglish has Adam Sandler. The biggest comedy star of the past 10 years. I don’t care what anyone says, Julia Roberts is not going to open anything other than a romantic comedy.

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    By the way: I notice that a few folks have been expressing surprise (and disappointment) because “The Sea Inside” appears to be, even by art-house standrads, stiffing at the box-ofice. I would like to point out that, back in 1981, MGM released a movie with an extremely similar plot (handicapped artist claims right to suicide) that had the cachet of being based on a London/Broadway stage hit, featured an Oscar-wining lead actor and some well-known supporting players, and, perhaps most important, was in English. And yet, even with all that going for it, “Whose Life is It, Anyway?” cleared only $8.2 million in North American theatrical release. I dunno, maybe it’s me, but I can’t help thinking there’s something about the subject matter that might be a turn-off for moviegoers.

  20. barry says:

    sea inside has no stars and looks very arty, i dont think anyones surprised its doing low box office.

  21. Stella's Boy says:

    The Sea Inside seems to be another Vera Drake. Art house movie with plenty of critical accolades and controversial subject matter that just doesn’t find an audience.

  22. The Woods says:

    I do not think anyone expected The Sea Inside to crack even the 10$ million dollar mark. But for Bardem to not get nominated would be a sin in itself.

  23. Drew says:

    If people have an aversion to the subject matter of THE SEA INSIDE, then how will MILLION DOLLAR BABY ever take off at the box-office? Oh… I know… by marketing it as a feel-good ROCKY style story of triumph instead of a right-to-die film. They are strikingly similar at heart, but at least Amenebar’s movie is honest about its subject matter up front. I’ve talked to several people, including my own parents, who were upset once the left turn finally arrives in M$B, and not pleased in the least.

  24. Stella's Boy says:

    A spoiler warning there would have been nice. I am intentionally avoiding all reviews and discussion of M$B for fear of having it ruined for me. I want to know as little about it as humanly possible.

  25. martin says:

    M$B made money cause of good reviews and uh.. that small marketing device of director/star Clint Eastwood. You think everyone that sees these movies does so because of a trailer?

  26. Joe Fitz says:

    Thanks for the spoiler warning. Is Vader really Lukes father too? I dispise people like you who ruin things out of spite.

  27. Mark says:

    When did this become AICN?

  28. Stella's Boy says:

    Alexander has now reached $88 million in foreign box office. Thought that was interesting.

  29. bicycle bob says:

    it’ll play well overseas. people love epics.

  30. TheBrotherhoodOfTheLostSkeletonOfCadavra says:

    Would someone kindly explain the whole Jennifer Garner thing to me? She’s just another scrawny starlet with minimal talent and a fabulous publicist who keeps getting her on magazine covers despite the fact that her show regularly got its clock cleaned in the ratings (until they moved it after LOST) and she has yet to open a movie (13 GOING ON 30 would’ve done just as much business with, say, Christina Applegate or Lauren Graham in the lead role). Stuffing her into skimpy outfits week after week may get the attention of horny teenage boys, but it doesn’t make her a star.

  31. Stella's Boy says:

    I’m with you. I think she’s a terrible actress. She is awful in Elektra.

  32. Mark says:

    Her tv show won’t be able to hold up with American Idol coming on against it. Shes parlayed her buzz into two Elektra roles and 13 Going on 30. She should fire her agents.

  33. bicycle bob says:

    i’m surprised gombro doesn’t want to give her an oscar for 13 going 30. wasn’t it popular?

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