October 20, 2009

Box Office Update 10/16-10/18: Where the Wild Things Are is Where the Money's At

The movie at the top of the leader board is called Where the Wild Things Are. Is it the biggest story of the past weekend? I do not know, although it certainly is something to be noticed. In addition to the success of the children's book adaptation, you have the newly widened release of the horror-indie that could, Paranormal Activity, and the surprising opening of Law Abiding Citizen. I guess that makes the question: which one is bigger or more surprising to you?

Yes, Law Abiding Citizen's $21 million was considerably higher than expected, but is it really that big of a story? I would say not really. It speaks to the fact that there are no other films like it playing right now and there was a thirst for a more traditional action/thriller. You have Zombieland, but that is comedy, horror, and action. Besides zombies have a somewhat limited realm of appeal. What about Surrogates? That ship has already sailed with its science fiction trappings and poor reviews; people wanted something traditional. Step in Law Abiding Citizen. It is not as traditional as you may think, but it does have distinctly broader appeal. Next week will be more telling of its future when we get to see its hold.

Could the big story by Paranormal Activity? Perhaps, but last week was the bigger story. This indie really gathered a head of steam behind it as it stormed the charts with its very limited release to reach the fourth position on the chart. This weekend saw it pull down nearly $20 million in its first week of wide release but is that more impressive than nearly $8 million from a mere 160 theaters? It is undoubtedly god and I am ecstatic at its success, but this weekend was a given success. Last week was the eye opener and next week will show if it has staying power. Regardless of its continued box office success, this is a fantastic movie and a great accomplishment.

I guess that leaves Where the Wild Things Are as my pick for the biggest story of the week. It may not have made as much as I was expecting, but after seeing it I am rather impressed. Perhaps I shouldn't be as the marketing campaign was hard to miss. Despite the family target it is much more arthouse than mainstream and much darker than I was expecting. It is such a good tale with a lot to say in a simple story. I suspect it will have a pretty big drop off next week, but that takes nothing away from the film. Spike Jonze has championed a cinematic triumph to the big screen with a vision that does not cater to anyone. I definitely recommend this film.

There is one other new release entering the charts this week, the remake of the 1987 thriller The Stepfather. It landed right about where most thought it would, in fifth place with an $11 million take. It will probably fade rather quickly. This is more of your typical Hollywood cash grab. It is a remake that is made without vision or artistic merit, it just wants teens in the seats. Perhaps I am wrong, I have not yet seen the film, but I have a strong suspicion.

Next week will see the pre-Halloween weekend get dominated by the next installment in the Saw franchise. Don't worry, it is not the last one. Next year will see Saw VII in horrific 3D! If that isn't your thing, you can also choose to see the teen-targeted Vampire's Assistant, which doesn't look half bad. You could also go the animated route with Astro Boy, which also looks good (save for Nicolas Cage's odd-fitting voice). Opening in more limited release is Amelia, the new Mira Nair film, and the annual re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D.

Three films dropped off the lst this week: Whip It (11), Capitalism: A Love Story (12), and Fame (14).
This WeekLast WeekTitleWknd GrossOverallWeek in release
1NWhere the Wild Things Are$32,695,407$32,695,4071
2NLaw Abiding Citizen$21,039,502$21,039,5021
34Paranormal Activity$19,617,650$33,171,7434
41Couples Retreat$17,227,390$62,617,7352
5NThe Stepfather$11,581,586$11,581,5861
63Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs$8,017,871$108,201,6455
85Toy Story 1 & 2 3D$3,016,580$28,554,6783
107The Invention of Lying$1,907,398$15,497,1643

Box Office Predictions Recap
I was so close to knocking this one right out of the park. When you look at it, it appears that I was wrong about near everything. However, upon slightly closer inspection, it appears that I was pretty close on many of them. My biggest mistake being the underestimation of Law Abiding Citizen, who would have thought it would open so well? I am not disappointed, but a little surprised. There is always next week to get everything to fit.

Here is how the field matched up:

ActualPredictionTitleWknd GrossPrediction
11Where the Wild Things Are$32,695,407$35 million
32Paranormal Activity$19,617,650$23 million


3Couples Retreat$17,227,390$18 million
24Law Abiding Citizen$21,039,502$13.5 million
55The Stepfather$11,581,586

$8.5 million

76Zombieland$7,616,939$7.5 million
67Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs$8,017,871$7 million
88Toy Story 1 & 2 3D$3,016,580$5 million
99Surrogates$1,917,315$2.5 million
1110Whip It$1,907,398$1.5 million


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