Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

December 26, 2007

I feel so much merrier now. Don't you?

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The real National Treasure is Nic Cage. Are we right?

Kim Hollis: National Treasure: Book of Secrets, a title we had believed to be on a par with I Am Legend, opened to an estimated $45.5 million. Is this more, less or pretty much exactly what you were expecting? Where do you expect it to go from here?

Pete Kilmer: I thought it was on par with Legend UNTIL Legend knocked out a $77 million opening. But yeah, this is where I thought National Treasure would end up for an opening weekend - which is an excellent opening! As for its legs...well, with the generally terrible reviews I think it'll creep toward about $140 million after things are done.

Joel Corcoran: I expected it to earn a much bigger take at the box office, somewhere around $60 million, but I couldn't be happier with the result. It's a decent, solid opening - nothing special - which has restored my faith in the movie-going public. I think the sublimely average opening reflects that this is the default movie choice for families wanting to get out of the house the weekend before Christmas precisely because it is pablum (and not that very good according to reviewers). And I agree with Pete in that National Treasure will plod slowly onward to a lukewarm finish.

Reagen Sulewski: I'm not sure what faith in the movie going public has to do with it - it's a rather generic action-adventure sequel starring Nic Cage and not some bellwether for high culture. That said, this is pretty much par for the course for a film that became a franchise after the fact. The increase from 1 to 2 was so to the book, we could have almost written this up before hand.

Max Braden: The $40 million range is what I had expected for both I Am Legend and Book of Secrets. Book of Secrets opened a little better than Night at the Museum did on Christmas weekend last year. What I didn't expect were the harsh reviews. I expect a nice bump from New Year's Eve weekend, but not the legs I was predicting prior to Friday. Aliens vs. Predator might take a little of its audience, but I'm thinking the movie will actually do better in the holiday season more than it might have in the summer. Rise of the Silver Surfer, for instance, finished at less than $132 million, and that was with a $58 million opening.

David Mumpower: This is quite a bit less than I was expecting in the short term. The key is not what it does after three days, however, but how it performs from now until New Year's Day. That will go a long way in determining its overall success.


In the future, Nic should always wear a bear suit

Kim Hollis: As chronicled by John Hamann in the latest weekend wrap-up, Nicolas Cage's openings seem to be feast or famine, falling under $10 million or over $40 million. What do you believe is the cause of this vast fluctuation and do you believe him to be a bankable lead actor?

Pete Kilmer: Nic Cage is a terrific popcorn movie actor. He's also a terrific serious actor. He also likes to take risks. He's also been known to be an actor who chooses a lot of crap to be in. The public, I think, has figured out what kind of movie they are getting with him pretty quickly. Get him in the right project and he's bankable. Put him in crap (Wicker Man) and people will wait for him to be in something they want to see him in.

Joel Corcoran: I think Pete nailed it. Nic Cage is that odd breed of actor who can pull in audiences that want to see the Michael Bay-type of summer blockbuster or adventure flick (e.g., The Rock, Gone in 60 Seconds, Ghost Rider, National Treasure), yet at the same time, appeal equally well to the quirky-indie-art house type of crowd (e.g., 8MM, Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation.). It's those roles that fall somewhere in the middle between these two extremes where he falters. He's appealing to audiences that have almost diametrically opposing tastes, and the movies where he's failed to fill the seats at the theaters are big production-value films without a lot of action (e.g., World Trade Center), or smaller films too mainstream to really be "independent" (e.g., The Weather Man). Put a different actor in either of those films, someone with audience appeal closer to a typical bell curve, and I think they would've performed much better at the box office. But with Nicolas Cage, those roles just didn't make sense for him to take.

Reagen Sulewski: He's got more lives than Travolta. I think a lot of this is residual reputation left over from his late '90s action run with The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off, and I think he's made an incredible amount of mileage off those few films. None of his "commercial" films have even been remotely as good or as fun since then (and yes, I include the NT films in that), but people are still waiting for him to make one of those again.

Max Braden: I don't really get what fans see in him, but I still watch his movies. I think it's because he's a comfortable fit for popcorn movies, and it's the producers providing him with catchy plots that get audiences to keep purchasing tickets. As long as Hollywood perceives audiences to perceive him to be a bankable star, he will be. But by that measure I'd rate his career future as risky as the subprime mortgage market.

David Mumpower: He's just a dink. How he keeps getting cast as an A-List actor is an indictment about the entire nature of celebrity. He's ugly, bald and weird. Were he not a Coppola, he would be the guy women walk across the street to avoid.

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