It’s been a colorful year over at Relativity. The mini-major has had an aggressive release slate, but most of their output, cast-offs like “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Judy Moody And The Not Bummer Summer,” failed to generate any excitement, though they scored with the $79 million springtime hit “Limitless.” But this weekend might be cause for celebration amongst Relativity offices, as “Immortals” outdid most projections with $32 million, earning a decisive victory against the surest thing in all of Hollywood, an Adam Sandler comedy.
Relativity, which no doubt made a nice chunk of change selling the overseas distribution rights to the very Euro-looking “Immortals,” earns by far the biggest opening in their history thus far. They did it the sneaky way, of course — the ads might as well have said, “everything in this movie is exactly like ’300’.” Of course, “300” grabbed a ridiculous $71 million in its first three days, but that film was a zeitgeist anomaly, and even if the “300” fan base was courted, obvious bait-and-switch marketing tends to turn off a significant number of potential viewers.
While they’ll want to check the second weekend drop before committing to a sequel, everyone comes out of this smelling like roses. Director Tarsem is wisely directing his next film with Relativity, the fantasy “Mirror, Mirror," and if that film connects in the same way, he’ll be able to write his own check. Little-known star Henry Cavill gets a nice bump, which might be irrelevant since his next big film, “The Man Of Steel,” doesn’t hit for another year and a half. And the mercurial, difficult Mickey Rourke just earned a little extra leeway to go around calling people jack-offs.
Even with Sandler's continued success (twelve starring vehicles grossing $100 million plus), the writing was on the wall for “Jack And Jill." Event the most ardent fans of Sandler’s dreck were taking to the internet to mock the early footage from this latest Happy Madison travesty, so seeing the film pull off an opening like this is almost heroic. Sandler does two types of movies: broad comedies with Happy Madison, and watchable movies with everyone else. And, not counting the dramedy “Funny People," “Jack And Jill” looks like it will clock in with the lowest opening for a live action Happy Madison production with Sandler in the lead since “Little Nicky” eleven years ago.
This isn’t coming at a great time for Sandler. His films aren’t necessarily cheap, inexplicably running at about $80 million per, and he’s about to test his appeal with the R-rated “I Hate You, Dad” next spring. When you make good movies that flop, you might get a little leeway. But when you’re making abject garbage that’s no longer profitable, people won’t want to finance either your or your friends’ (“Bucky Larson”) films. “Jack And Jill” has a family theme, and could do pretty solid Thanksgiving weekend business, but it will have to weather an onslaught of bad buzz previous Sandler films have escaped thus far, not to mention “Twilight” cornering the “I have no fucking taste in anything” market next weekend.
Boasting a second straight dramatic hold, “Puss In Boots” easily crossed $100 million. Those who pronounced the kitty road kill after a soft opening weekend are eating crow, and it’s doing even stronger business overseas. While it’s obviously going to fall short of “Shrek” numbers, it could very well play through Thanksgiving, as its main competitor, this week’s “Happy Feet Two,” is tracking fairly weak. Tracking on children’s films tend to be unreliable, but it’s entirely plausible that this audience can support two 3D kid flicks.
“Tower Heist” posted a so-so second weekend hold, which doesn’t suggest that people are accepting or rejecting it as much as it confirms the film as Product. Pegged as a hit by Universal (who reportedly spent silly money, more than the listed $85 million budget), it’s instead performing like a programmer, a time-waster for the less-demanding audiences. Of course, the question in Hollywood is, what about the toxic would-be Oscar duo of Eddie Murphy and Brett Ratner? Final grosses for the film will likely be inconclusive, but expect both to be sparse for only a short while, as both Murphy and Ratner love easy paychecks.
“J. Edgar” opened in less than two thousand theaters this weekend, pulling in decent limited release numbers. Considering everything about this project screamed, “Eat your oatmeal!” these are decent numbers that suggest an ongoing expansion could be fruitful. But Clint and company have to be disappointed the critics didn’t follow them on this one, and it’s possible the rubberneck audience won’t necessarily respond. If the film is a non-entity during awards season, all those involved will likely pretend this never happened.
The rest of the lineup looks ready to take a “Twilight” roundhouse to the face on their way out of the marketplace. “A Very Harold And Kumar 3D Christmas” dropped hard in weekend two and is going to lose most of its 3D engagements this coming weekend. “In Time” and “Paranormal Activity 3” both hit $30 million and $100 million respectively and look spent, while “Footloose” and “Real Steel” won’t even hit their optimistic targets of $60 and $100 million.
In indie theaters, Werner Herzog's "Into The Abyss" opened, gathering $50.8k on twelve screens. Surprisingly, that's much weaker than the debut of Herzog's "Cave Of Forgotten Dreams," which grabbed $139k at only five locations. A single theater in New York generated $9.5k for "Elite Squad 2," while the biggest arthouse showing was for "Melancholia." The Lars Von Trier drama is the second straight VOD hit to generate solid big-screen numbers after "Margin Call," pulling in $270k on nineteen screens, a muscular $19k average. And continuing a rather spectacular limited run is "Like Crazy," which sang to $525k worth of lovebirds on seventy screens, the per-screen average a strong $7k for a three week total of $1 million. Support your local arthouse theaters, boys and girls.
1. Immortals (Relativity) – $32 million
2. Dunkin Donuts Presents An Adam Sandler Movie Brought To You By Oreos And Continental Cruise Lines (Sony) – $26 million
3. Puss-In-Boots (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $25.5 million ($108.8 mil.)
4. Tower Heist (Universal) – $13.2 million ($43.9 mil.)
5. J. Edgar (Warner Bros.) – $11.5 million
6. Harold And Kumar Go Away (Warner Bros./New Line) – $5.7 million ($23 mil.)
7. In Time (Fox) – $4.2 million ($31 mil.)
8. Paranormal Activity Three: Extremes (Paramount) – $3.7 million ($101 mil.)
9. Footloose (Paramount) – $2.8 million ($49 mil.)
10. The Steel Is Real (Disney) – $1.9 million ($82 mil.)