Weekend Wrap-Up for September 7-9, 2007

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

September 9, 2007

Hey! Batman's not supposed to be a gun type of guy!

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Any win is a good win. Just ask any head coach in any sport and they will tell you that the name of the game is to finish first. Keeping this in mind, 3:10 to Yuma emerges victorious from the weekend shootout, earning an estimated $14.1 million. Before we focus on the positives of Lionsgate's win, let's address the elephant in the living room. This is the worst weekend total for the number one movie in North America since April 27th - 29th. We have experienced 19 weeks of glorious box office totals in excess of $4 billion since the last time the weekend was so devoid of movie patrons.

Focusing on the positive, 3:10 to Yuma has ended the one week run of Halloween as the top film in the country. That's the positive. Everything else is the reality of the situation. Russell Crowe's first attempt to play a pure villain since 1995's Virtuosity was met with resounding applause by critics, but North American audiences were more interested in the start of the football season. A project already rife with internal controversy sees little by way of financial success to start its theatrical run. The title's weekend box office includes a per-venue average of only $5,317.

Crowe and the movie's director, James Mangold, were displeased with Lionsgate's decision to move Yuma up so early on the Fall schedule. They felt that the period after Labor Day would not be a boon to the production's box office. Lionsgate was focused on something equally important. They worried that the presence of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford would make their movie look like an afterthought if they didn't get ahead of it on the schedule. This led to a hard choice and the one the distributor settled upon, a post-Labor Day release, has proven to be less than satisfying for a production with a $50 million budget and a negative cost significantly higher.


The positive here is that with reviews and word-of-mouth on a level just below The Bourne Ultimatum, 3:10 to Yuma could build up some steam over the next few weeks. This is a title that skews older, and it might be able to show better legs, particularly from a percentage of depreciation perspective, than most Fall titles. This has been Lionsgate's logic in releasing the title. Given their success sustaining momentum for Crash after its release, the studio felt a similar release pattern could keep Yuma in the forefront of awards season discussions. Whether lightning strikes twice remains to be seen, but the opening weekend of this film continues Crowe's streak of weak box office performances. With A Good Year failing in dramatic fashion and Cinderella Man, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and now 3:10 to Yuma disappointing, Crowe needs a hit in a big, bad way. Fortunately, American Gangster, the Aussie's November release, appears to be just that sort of project.

After a spectacular debut over Labor Day weekend, Halloween drops an expectedly large 62% to $10.0 million as it falls to second place. Considering that its budget is listed at a paltry $15 million, the rmovie's running total of $44.2 has to be thrilling to Dimension Films and the Weinsteins. So far in 2007, the brothers who formerly found a great deal of success with Miramax have really had only Dimension to crow about, as both 1408 and now Halloween have proven to be financial boons. At this point, Rob Zombie should be able to write his own ticket in the horror movie business.

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