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Weekend Wrap-Up

Box Office Takes Another Beating as Heartbreak Kid Flops

By John Hamann

October 7, 2007

Ben Stiller shows that he has little understanding of how the box office behaved this weekend.

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New release The Heartbreak Kid got off to a not so good start at the box office this weekend as recent box office god Ben Stiller reteamed with his There's Something About Mary cohorts, Peter and Bobby Farrelly. In the week leading up to its release, Heartbreak was being compared to Mary; however, Along Came Polly, Stiller's critically reviled January 2004 release, might be a better example. Also landing hard is Walden Media's The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, which went out to way too many venues, and crashed and burned horribly at the box office. Overall, there is little good news at the box office.

The unexpected number one film at the box office is The Rock's The Game Plan, which debuted to $23 million last weekend. The movie had magnificent staying power as it dropped only 29% and earned $16.3 million in its second frame. The Pacifier, Vin Diesel's film with similar subject matter, dropped 41% in its second weekend before going on to earn $118 million at the domestic box office. I doubt The Game Plan will be as lucky, but The Rock could see $75 million domestic (his biggest total since The Scorpion King's $90 million finish) before going on to make a small fortune on DVD. Currently, the family-friendly Disney flick has earned $42.8 million.




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With the game plan surprising in first place, that relegates the aforementioned The Heartbreak Kid to number two. The Heartbreak Kid is Ben Stiller's first release since Night at the Museum, which earned $250 million at the domestic box office, and over $570 million worldwide. The Heartbreak Kid is certainly no Night at the Museum, as Stiller's latest comedy opened to a poor $14.0 million from 3,229 venues (Museum opened to $30.4 million before Christmas last year). The Kid had a crummy venue average of $5,237. While no Duplex (Stiller's late September 2003 flop with Drew Barrymore - it opened to $4 million and finished with $9 million), DreamWorks and Paramount won't be happy with this one, considering the pedigree of Stiller and his reunion with the Farrelly brothers. When the comic and directors teamed up the last time, they made 1998's There's Something About Mary, which turned into a huge hit for 20th Century Fox, as Mary opened to $13.7 million and went on to earn $176 million domestically, and over $300 million worldwide (against a production budget just north of $20 million). Since Mary, though, the Farrelly brothers and Stiller have gone in separate directions. Stiller did two hugely successful Meet the Parents pictures (combined domestic gross: $445 million) along with Dodgeball ($114 million finish) and Madagascar ($193 million), amongst others. The Farrellys, on the other hand, went into the sink after Mary. They made horrible films like Osmosis Jones ($13.6 million finish) and Fever Pitch ($42 million finish), and some good ones like Shallow Hal ($70.8 million), but have not achieved the comedic level of Mary or even their first film, Dumb and Dumber ($127 million). Hopes were high for The Heartbreak Kid, as it was a remake of Elaine May's 1972 comedy with Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd, and it had a good, but not great marketing campaign. Reviews hurt. At RottenTomatoes, 107 reviewers chimed in and only 34 found something to like, giving The Heartbreak Kid a rotten rating of 32%. Regardless of film quality, The Heartbreak Kid should have doubled its opening weekend, making this one a bigger than expected disappointment. The Heartbreak Kid shouldn't last long, but Stiller's films have surprised with legs before, so let's wait and see what happens next weekend.


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