Weekend Wrap-Up
21 Doubles Down and Wins the Weekend
By John Hamann
March 30, 2008

She is so wasted right now.

On a weekend that should have been quiet due to a crop of weak openers and a supposedly surefire winner with Superhero Movie, the box office got turned on its head this weekend with the losers winning and the winners losing. Movies opening include the blackjack flick 21, Superhero Movie, from the folks who brought you classics like Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans, Stop-Loss, a film about the Iraq war, and Run Fatboy Run, a Simon Pegg flick from director and Friend David Schwimmer. We also had Horton Hears a Who! and Meet the Browns returning, so it was sure to be a battle for top spot.

Surprisingly, the winner by a country mile is 21, the gambling for tuition flick from Sony. The movie, starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and Jim Sturgess from Across the Universe, earned a very big $23.7 million. Out to a not-very-large venue total of 2,648, 21 had a killer screen average of $8,950, the best in the top ten. For Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth, this washes away the smell of Superman Returns, a not very good film that, despite being a surefire lock to be a $250-300 million plus project, barely managed to cross the $200 million mark. Spacey has now worked with Bosworth in 21, Superman Returns and Beyond the Sea, and they will theoretically be seen together again in a Superman sequel (hopefully it's better).

Kevin Spacey was desperate for a hit. After being the flavor of the year in 1994-1995 (The Ref, Swimming With Sharks, The Usual Suspects, Se7en), and a Best Actor winner in 1999 (American Beauty), the new millennium has not been kind to Verbal Kint. A string of flops have included Pay It Forward, The Shipping News, The Life of David Gale, The United States of Leland, and Beyond the Sea, leaving the actor looking for some more commercial roles. He appeared in the aforementioned Superman Returns as Lex Luthor, then took a smaller role in Fred Claus with Vince Vaughn.

21 continues Spacey's string of popular but critically reviled pictures. Critics at RottenTomatoes were quite negative to the blackjack flick, calling it terribly predictable. Of the 88 reviews counted, only 28 were positive, leaving it with only a 32% fresh rating. While a film like 21 could have counted on positive reviews for business, it didn't have to. Spring Break catapulted 21 to the top, and the casting of Bosworth and Jim Sturgess would have helped as well. The film is also based on a very popular book, Bringing Down the House, and is a true story that got a lot of play in the media. Is 21 a $100 million film? Doubtful, but $80 million isn't out of the question, and for director Robert Luketic, that will be three $80 million plus films, as 21 could join Monster-in-Law and Legally Blonde as Luketic's big hits.

While not the top finisher, another big winner is Horton Hears a Who!, which has been the top film for the last two weekends. Horton may have dropped a notch to second, but Fox is still going to be very pleased with its gross. The Jim Carrey Dr. Seuss flick earned $17.4 million and was off a slim 29%, a nice drop following the long Easter weekend. Horton broke through the $100 million mark on Friday, its 15th day of release, the same amount of time it took the original Ice Age to accomplish the same feat. Ice Age dropped 40% in its third weekend of release, and still finished with $176 million. Look for Horton to finish slightly stronger than that figure. Currently, it has a cume of $117.3 million.

Finishing third is Superhero Movie, the latest moronic entry in the Blank Movie series that started back in 2000 with the original Scary Movie, a film that I would be thankful to sit through compared to something like Superhero Movie. Fortunately, about half the usual audience showed up for this one. Superhero Movie earned $9.5 million from 2,960 venues. If the typical pattern for these spoof films holds, Superhero Movie should finish with about twice the opening weekend total. Really, people, save your money and they will stop making this dreck.

Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns slipped from second spot last weekend to fourth spot, as the writer/director has another film do the Tyler Perry slide. After opening to a big $20.1 million last weekend, Meet the Browns got flushed this weekend and earned only $7.8 million, dropping a huge 61%. This is not surprising or unexpected for a Tyler Perry release, as his films are notorious for earning the largest portion of the gross over opening weekend. His last film, Why Did I Get Married?, bucked the trend and dropped 43% in its second frame. That's much better than Madea's Family Reunion (58%), Diary of a Mad Black Woman (50%) and Daddy's Little Girls (57%). Currently, Meet the Browns has earned $32.8 million, and should finish around $50 million.

Fifth goes to Drillbit Taylor, the Owen Wilson comedy from producer Judd Apatow. After getting off to a shaky start last weekend with a $10.3 million opening frame (and a loss to Shutter), Drillbit earned $5.8 million and fell 44% from the previous frame. This is going to be Apatow's second big miss following Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. At least Drillbit will out-gross Dewey, as that one finished with $18.3 million, and the Owen Wilson feature now has a total of $20.6 million.

Shutter almost manages to stay ahead of Drillbit Taylor, but ends up finishing sixth. Shutter, a forgettable Asian horror remake, earned $5.3 million in its second weekend and fell 49%. It has now earned $19.1 million.

10,000 B.C. manages an eighth place finish. The Roland Emmerich usual earned $4.9 million, and fell 45% compared to the previous frame. It doesn't look like this one will make it to $100 million, as its sits now with $84.9 million.

Stop-Loss, the new film about the Iraq war, finishes seventh, as it deals with tough subject matter and a venue count of only 1,291. Stop-Loss earned $4.5 million, and had a venue average of $3,505. It was also the best reviewed new film of the weekend, as Stop-Loss managed a 61% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. I doubt it will expand, but stranger things have happened.

College Road Trip falls to ninth with a weekend gross of $3.5 million. The Martin Lawrence feature dropped 25%, and has now earned $38.4 million.

Tenth place goes to The Bank Job, which has a slightly larger drop than it had been seeing in previous weekends, but still keeps chugging along admirably. The Jason Statham film earned $2.8 million, a decline of 33%. It has had a solid outing so far in theaters, earning $24.1 million. It is almost certain to be a bigger hit on DVD.

The last of our new releases finishes well outside of the top ten. Run Fatboy Run, the comedy starring Simon Pegg and directed by David Schwimmer, earned only $2.4 million, but opened at a slight 1,133 venues. Fatboy was another film that didn't review well, finishing with a 45% fresh rating. This is another one that's going to disappear quickly.

Overall, things aren't great, and last year, things were very good. Over the same weekend in 2007, the box office was led by Blades of Glory ($33 million opening) and the Disney flick Meet the Robinsons ($25 million opening). The top 12 films earned a hefty $116.4 million. This year was much softer, as the top 12 could only manage $90 million. Things could get interesting next weekend as we get a George Clooney movie in Leatherheads, Nim's Island with Jodie Foster, and horror flick The Ruins.