I remember when I first saw the trailer for “The Blind Side.” A friend and I – nearly alone in the theater – burst into hysterical laughter at the ridiculous sentimentality of it. I thought to myself – this is opening in the middle of November!?! There is no fucking way it stands a chance against the “2012”s and “New Moon”s, especially with Oprah/Perry-fueled “Precious” around doing the sentimental thing with much more hype and much more grace.
Cut to a month or two later, and boy do I ever stand corrected. Last night, the film nearly beat “New Moon”‘s Friday numbers, grossing an astounding $16.2 million. As Saturdays and Sundays are much kinder to fare like “Blind Side” than they are to “New Moon,” it’s possible we’ll have a very unexpected Thanksgiving champ. The film should probably gross $60 million over the five-day weekend, crossing the $100 million mark Sunday evening.
I guess I should never have underestimated the box office wackiness that is 2009. Who would have ever expected “Paranormal Activity,” “The Hangover,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “Taken” or even “The Proposal” to become the full-fledged blockbusters they became. And to be truthful, part of me is even kind of excited for “The Blind Side”‘s success, even if this comes not from personal opinion of the film (I wasn’t a fan, even if it was better than I expected it to be. And let’s also note my severe allergy to both sports dramas that aren’t TV series named “Friday Night Lights,” and the white-woman-saves-the-black-kids sub-genre I’ve resented since I was forced to watch “Freedom Writers” on a flight).
Let’s face it: It’s $29 million budgeted sports drama, headlined by a female, up against massively budgeted competition. Part of me doesn’t even care that it’s more or less well-intentioned garbage, and loves the message its success is sending to Hollywood: Blockbusters don’t need to cost a bajillion dollars, they don’t need to be headlined by a man, and white, straight men can be the least likely demographic to go see your movie. With “New Moon” and “Precious” the other major success stories of the month, I think this message is coming across stronger than ever. Women have dominated the audiences of all three (not to mention African-Americans for “Precious” and “Blind Side” and gays for “Precious” and “New Moon”). The combined budget of all three films? $89 million. Less than half of the budget of “2012.” In the end, “New Moon” could hit $310 million, “The Blind Side” should do at least $175 million (if not $200 million), and “Precious,” depending on how good awards season treats it, could end up with anything from $50 million to $100 million+. That’s potentially a $600 million trio.