So Im actually writing this from my terrace in on a mid-October afternoon in what is supposed to be one of the coldest metropolises in the world. It is 25 degrees (77 for the imperial crowd). When I left to get my Cafe du Starbucks this morning, I was in full coat and scarf, oblivious.. Now Im in a t-shirt. Its a record for today so The Weather Network tells me. And, using weather as a desperate entry point into the real topic of this blog, its also a record at the movie theatres today! Today, a record EIGHT films open in wide release, which is most to have done so in one weekend ever. Twice (In December 1983 and in December 1995), seven have managed to simutaneously open, but never eight. And since 1982, only 20 weekends have seen six or more movies debut in and/or expand to wide release. So the big gang consists of: 30 Days of Night, The Comebacks, Gone Baby Gone, Rendition, Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour, The Ten Commandments, Into The Wild and Things We Lost in the Fire. Add this to The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D‘s 500 screen re-issue and 200-300 screen expansions of The Darjeeling Limited and The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, and we’ve got ourselves a pretty crowded weekend at the box office…
But perhaps the interesting this to me is, and I could be wrong, that there doesn’t look like a hit in there. Vampire flick 30 Days of Night is the likely box office champion, but horror reciepts (pun alert) suck right now and I question its ability to do over $20 million. The Comebacks is too stupid and unbuzzy humor even for the Wild Hogs crowd; Rendition and Things We Lost In The Fire didn’t get the reviews to allow their heavy topics to attract interest; Gone Baby Gone has no big stars (though its reviews and Affleckiness will likely allow its numbers to be respectable, and I doubt the producers are even aiming for higher than $10 million this weekend); and I had to imdb Sarah Landon and this new Ten Commandments to even know what the hell they were.
I just think this weekend will say a lot (and I touched on this earlier in the week in the box office summary of last weekend) about the power of stars these days. In a weekend where the following have a film in their first or second weekend of release: Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro, Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, a movie about vampires and a black ensemble dramedy are gonna be 1-2. Whats more, it wouldn’t surprise me if The Comebacks, a no-star sports comedy spoof, is #3.
And as far as the smaller pictures go (where #1 dont mean a thing), I’m really curious to see how Gone Baby Gone and Into The Wild do in their first weeks in in the big leagues. Both well-reviewed, actor-director, Oscar-buzzers, this weekend could really make or break their Oscar chances. But I mean, if Mystic River couldn’t get any money, even with TWO acting statues and a more A list cast, I wonder how quickly Gone will be gone. And though its already a lost cause (it seems, and sadly so cause its damn good), the younger Affleck’s other starrer, Jesse James tries its hand at a bigger screen count, and it looks as though this will add to Pitt’s continuing inability to draw box office numbers outside of the mega hyped Mr and Mrs Smith or when hes surrounded by his Ocean’s neo-rat pack. Not that he really cares, I’d guess… And I do admire the man’s choices. He is constantly surrounding himself with great actors, directors and screenwriters, and it’ll pay off when they start doing Pittrospectives in the late 2020s.
Reservation Road is the only new limited release thats somewhat notable. It looks like a total Shipping News and Im pretty positive its under 5,000 per screen average this weekend will confirm this. Good book, good cast, good director….. and terribly cliched and redundant film that goes nowhere except DVD bargain bins. But I do love me some Mark Ruffalo, so maybe one day I’ll bite at that bin.