Weekend Wrap-Up for November 16-18, 2007
Beowulf and Old Men Winners at Slow Box Office
By John Hamann
November 18, 2007
It was a weekend of good news and bad news at the box office. The good news is that Beowulf, the CGI action fantasy, opened at number one, almost reaching $30 million. The other good news is that the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men finished very strongly this weekend, earning a top ten spot despite being out to only 148 venues. The bad news is everywhere. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium flopped, holdovers fell hard, and the top 12 films this year were absolutely crushed by the top 12 films last year. The scary thing is that even the Thanksgiving weekend crop is looking quite unfriendly.
Our number one film is Beowulf, the $150 million co-production between Paramount, Warner Bros., and Steve Bing's Shangri-La Entertainment. Beowulf earned an only so-so $28.1 million from 3,153 venues, grabbing a venue average of $8,912. Is this weekend total something to get excited about? Not really. Considering the ambush marketing we've seen from Beowulf, domestic distributor Paramount can't be happy that its mega budgeted flick failed to reach $30 million, even though tracking was right on target. Let's not forget that 300, another historical epic, found over $70 million over its opening frame in March, and that this opening is not much better than the $23 million that the similarly creepy looking Polar Express opened to in 2004. The TV ads trumpeted Beowulf as opening at IMAX 3-D, 3-D Digital cinemas and movie theatres everywhere, which left me not wanting to see this on a regular screen, and waiting for the 3-D experience. Major critics were shown Beowulf in 3-D, with their reviews trumpeting the 3-D process. Without a 3-D venue in my market, my ‘want-to-see' level for Beowulf was completely destroyed. With the result this weekend, I don't think I was the only one.
Reviews at RottenTomatoes were good for Beowulf, but it certainly was no home run. Of the 129 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, 91 were positive, leaving Beowulf with a 71% fresh rating. Because of the impending holiday season, I think Grendel and his killer will see $100 million domestically, and international grosses will match that of domestic, making Beowulf a moderate hit. I also think - whether I like it or not - that this is the future of the blockbuster, and eventually we will see a huge earner come out of this motion capture process.
Finishing second this weekend is Jerry Seinfeld's $150 million Bee Movie, and for the second weekend in a row, we are going to have to hear what a success Bee Movie is due to the fact that it's either been number one or number two for three consecutive weekends - but don't believe it. Bee Movie earned $14.3 million from 3,984 venues, and had an average of $3,589. It plunged 44% compared to last weekend after dropping 33% in that frame - drops that are much too high for a film aimed at the family set. Bee Movie will have to wait another weekend to reach the $100 million mark, as its total so far is $93.9 million - about $10 million behind American Gangster - an R rated violent film for adults - which was released on the same weekend.