Weekend Wrap-Up for January 11-13, 2007

Nicholson Back on Top With Bucket List

By John Hamann

January 13, 2008

Do you think we'll find Wes Anderson around here somewhere?

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The second weekend of 2008 didn't sizzle at the box office, but returns were respectable as a handful of releases either debuted or expanded. We had higher-brow entries like The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, lower-brow entries like First Sunday, and the intolerable like In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale from esteemed director Uwe Boll. Yes, the Ed Wood of modern times is back, bringing with him an fantasy/action film that looks more like a comedy. Would Boll's new masterpiece make the top ten? Read on to find out.

The number one film is The Bucket List, a drama starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two terminally ill cancer patients who escape the hospital and live life to its fullest during their last days. Probably based on star power alone, The Bucket List earned a strong $19.5 million from 2,911 venues. It had a venue average of $6,750. One might think this would be the perfect picture someone like Oscar could love, but reviews have kneecapped it. Of the 112 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only 45 were positive, leaving a rotten rating of 40%. Too much schmaltz and manipulation held this one back, and in the end, Warner Bros. chose January for its wide release instead of December 25th. With its $19.5 million opening, Warner Bros. has to be wondering how much this one would have earned with an earlier release date.


For Jack Nicholson, this is an okay debut. His only films that have grossed more over opening weekend are Batman ($40.5 million opening), Anger Management ($42.2 million opening) and The Departed ($26.8 million opening). On the other hand, The Bucket List most likely won't earn in the long run what some of his smaller openers have, like Terms of Endearment ($108 million finish in 1983 dollars), or even Something's Gotta Give, his 2003 Christmas release that opened to $16 million and somehow finished with $125 million in domestic grosses. For Morgan Freeman, this one of his stronger openings, but remember that Freeman has appeared in 11 $100 million plus grossers. Will The Bucket List earn $100 million? It could. Weepers have a tendency to have serious legs. The Notebook opened to $13.5 million and finished with $81 million. Warner Bros. will be happy with this opening, as they have The Bucket List, I Am Legend, and One Missed Call in the top six this weekend.

Finishing second is First Sunday, the odd looking ghetto comedy with a religious twist. Before you can say Tyler Perry, First Sunday earned $19 million from only 2,213 venues. It had an average of $8,586 - the best in the top ten. First Sunday stars Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan and Katt Williams and is being released by Sony's Screen Gems, the studio that opened Stomp the Yard to $21.8 million over the same weekend last year. I thought the oddball premise (rob a church and find salvation) might hold this one back, but it didn't, leaving it with a respectable opening weekend. Reviews were horrible, of course (you were expecting something else?), as RT found only eight reviewers out of 40 who liked this enough to give it a positive review. That's 17% fresh; however, I think the opening would have been the same with a 0% fresh rating. For Ice Cube, this is incredibly his ninth consecutive opener to gross $10 million or more, and 12th if we don't count Ghosts of Mars, which we are all better off forgetting.

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