Weekend Wrap-Up
10,000 B.C. Leads Slow Box Office
By John Hamann
March 9, 2008

She thinks she's still in When a Stranger Calls.

After a decidedly dumpy weekend in the last frame when Will Ferrell's Semi-Pro led the top 12 to an ugly sub-$80 million weekend, a big, idiotic, CG movie has brought the box office back to life (as usual). As expected, 10,000 B.C. led all comers this weekend using effects - and not A-list type stars - to draw moviegoers into its ugly web. Also opening this weekend is College Road Trip with Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone, and Jason Statham's The Bank Job, which looks a lot more like Snatch than Crank ever could. The woolly mammoth in the room, though, is last year's 300, which earned an amazing $70 million over opening weekend, and provides some seriously stiff competition against erasing a five-weekend losing streak at the 2008 box office.

Is star power dead at the movies? The days of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, Willis and Roberts seem to be coming to an end. At today's movie theaters, if your film isn't filled with CG beasts and baddies, it doesn't have the wow factor, and fails to entice audiences - at least to level where studio payback is realistic. Looking at films like 10,000 B.C., 300 (I wonder how many films in the next year will be based on numbers...), and Transformers, they all chose effects over any kind of actor that would draw audiences. It's true that Will Smith, Jim Carrey and Tom Hanks can bring fans to the table, but if they aren't in films heavy on the CG (I Am Legend, Bruce Almighty) or with big built-ins (The Da Vinci Code) studio executives sweat right up to opening day. This weekend brings us 10,000 B.C., which stars Steven Strait, who hasn't been in much of anything except a role in Sky High, and a Renny Harlin horror film called The Covenant. The biggest name in the supposed blockbuster might be Cliff Curtis, who was in Live Free or Die Hard and Whale Rider. IMDb lists the budget of 10,000 B.C. at $75 million, and if 10% was spent on casting, I would be quite surprised.

Like it or not, the number one film of the weekend is 10,000 B.C., which marks the return of Roland Emmerich, who hasn't been in the director's chair since 2004's The Day After Tomorrow. 10,000 B.C. earned a large $35.7 million this weekend from 3,410 venues, and had a venue average of $10,478. If you didn't know that 10,000 B.C. was going to bark like a dog, you should have your head examined. The lack of any kind of dialogue in the TV ads made this one smell for me initially, and then one line slipped into the ads about a week ago, and it was in English, a language not spoken in 10,000 B.C. I think Roland Emmerich may have seen Mel Gibson's Apocolypto, and thought, "What a good idea! I won't need any stars, and I can get rid of those annoying subtitles."

Critics weren't impressed. At RottenTomatoes, only six critics out of a possible 76 liked this historical oddity, giving the latest Emmerich a fresh rating of 8%. Even the RottenTomatoes community, which is much, much kinder than critics, only liked this one to the tune of a 44% fresh rating.

The opening for 10,000 B.C. is neither good or bad. An opening in the mid-$30 millions has become blasé for a heavily hyped CG movie like this one. The debut fails to crack the top five for March historically, and is just half of what 300 earned a year ago. Warner Bros. and its production partners gave this one the greenlight as they knew opening weekend would be big, followed by the expected 50% drop-offs, but then be huge again overseas, and again on DVD (and then again on Blu-Ray). Personally, I would rather sit through Ice Age 3, or 4, or 5...

Finishing second this weekend is College Road Trip, a movie that sounds like an out and out raunch fest, most likely starring Tom Green or one of the kids from Superbad, but actually it's a G-rated flick starring Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone (from That's So Raven, if you know what that means). College Road Trip earned $14 million this weekend from only 2,706 venues, as Disney chose its sites carefully, and the gambit paid off. Martin Lawrence now has two winter/spring films that worked, as Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins opened to $16 million and has so far churned up $40 million (against a budget of $35 million), and now he has College Road Trip in the teen-millions, and probably worked on a lower budget for this one. Critics hated it, but we were expecting that, as its score at RT came in at 14% - which is at least better than the laughable 10,000 B.C.. Expect College Road Trip to disappear quickly.

There's no Semi-Pro in third, but we will get to that later. Vantage Point is our number three to see this weekend, as it slips from second spot. Vantage Point and its gaggle of stars earned $7.5 million in its third weekend, down 41% from the previous frame. Older audiences seem to be turning up for this one, and the Columbia Pictures thriller has now earned $51.7 million - not bad for a film that cost about $40 million to make.

Fourth does go to Semi-Pro, but I imagine Will Ferrell is in hiding this weekend. The basketball spoof earned only $5.8 million after opening to $15 million last weekend. That gives Semi-Pro a weekend-to-weekend drop of 62%, which is stunningly high for a sports comedy. So far, the New Line mistake has earned $24.7 million, and $40 million most likely won't happen for Semi-Pro.

Jason Statham's The Bank Job lands in fifth despite going out to only 1,603 venues. The true story heist flick earned $5.7 million and had an average of $3,562. The Bank Job was the film critics actually liked, as 76 critics out of an even 100 gave this one a thumbs up (I'll let you work out the fresh rating yourself). For Jason Statham, The Bank Job is a nice step away from his usual silly action flicks (Crank, The Transporter franchise), and back to films that were good for him like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Italian Job and Snatch. Hopefully word-of-mouth spreads for The Bank Job, and Lionsgate continues to expand it stateside.

The Spiderwick Chronicles finds itself in sixth place this weekend, as the kids flick earned $4.8 million. The Paramount feature based on a novel fell 45% compared to last weekend, and has now earned $61.7 million, still well off of its $95 million production budget.

Seventh spot goes to The Other Boleyn Girl, as Natalie and Scarlett hoped to hold well after opening to $8.2 million last weekend. This weekend, The Other Boleyn Girl earned only $4 million, giving the romantic epic a surprisingly large percentage drop of 51%. Sony chose not to expand this one, and was walloped by the drop. So far, The Other Boleyn Girl (I'd take either, thanks) has earned $14.6 million.

Eighth, ninth and tenth are like taking out the garbage. Eighth spot goes to Jumper, the sci-fi flick with the Super Bowl ad. Jumper fell 50% this weekend and earned $3.8 million to bring its total up to $72.5 million. Ninth goes to Step Up 2 the Streets, the step dance movie. It earned $3 million and fell 47%. Its total so far is $53 million. In tenth is the demonic Fool's Gold. The nicely self described movie earned $2.8 million and dropped 37%. It has now earned $62.8 million.

The new Amy Adams/France McDormand flick, Ms. Pettigrew Lives For A Day, finished just outside of the top ten, earning $2.5 million from a tiny 535 venues. It had a venue average of $4,750, and will hopefully be expanded in the weekends to come. So far, Ms. Pettigrew is 74% fresh at RT, and could replace Step Up 2 the Streets and Fool's Gold next weekend.

Overall, things are pretty bleak despite a big open from 10,000 B.C.. The top twelve films this weekend failed to crack the $100 million mark, pulling in $91.8 million. A year earlier with 300 on top, the top 12 managed a massive $139 million, which shows just how bad off this year is. Next weekend will help, as Fox rolls out Horton Hears a Who, and the same weekend in 2006 had three films that tanked (however, 300 still pulled in $33 million). Check back next weekend to see how it all rolls out.