Quiet Box Office Over Oscar Weekend
By John Hamann
February 24, 2008
With the writer's strike over, all eyes were on Oscar this weekend, leaving the box office to lap up sloppy seconds with a number of quiet entries. While there were four new releases at theaters, only one had a venue count that could put it on top, which was the aptly titled Vantage Point. Other releases, all debuting on fewer than 1,500 screens, included Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind, Ferris Bueller wannabe Charlie Bartlett, and what will hopefully be the end of Larry the Cable Guy's film career, Witless Protection. Last year, the top 12 managed to get above $100 million. This year, that's just not going to happen.
The number one film of the weekend is Vantage Point, the only new release to get more than 3,000 venues, and to belabor the point, more than 2,000 venues. With its cast of former A-listers (Sigourney Weaver), B-listers (Dennis Quaid), up and comers (Matthew Fox) and art house types (Forest Whitaker, William Hurt), Vantage Point had a cast that was able to bring in some opening weekend dollars. With this casting, Vantage Point performed according to expectations, earning $24 million from a surprisingly wide 3,149 venues. It had an average of $7,621. Vantage Point was made by Original Film (Gridiron Gang, Click) and Relativity Media (Charlie Wilson's War, American Gangster) and is being distributed in North America by Columbia Pictures. Reviews for this one were not of the stellar variety, which probably pushed the venue count this weekend beyond 3,000. At RottenTomatoes, 91 critics chimed in, and only 31 found something to like, leaving Vantage Point with a rotten rating of 34%. The nation's ‘top critics' were even less kind, giving the thriller a rating of 23%.
For most of the cast though, Vantage Point did exactly what they needed it to - open beyond $20 million. For Sigourney Weaver, her last $20 million plus opening came in 2004 in the form of The Village (which also co-starred William Hurt). Before that, her last $20 million plus opener was 1992's Alien 3. Her next $20 million earner will be James Cameron's Avatar, rumoured to be budgeted in the $200 million range, but the release date for the sci-fi epic is December 2009. For Vantage Point‘s Dennis Quaid, this is only his second $20 million plus opener, the other being They Day After Tomorrow, which debuted to $69 million in May 2004. For Forest Whitaker, this is his first film since 2002's Panic Room to open in the $20 millions. Overall, and without budget information, I think Vantage Point will end as a push for all involved, with $60 million coming domestically, and another $25 million coming overseas.
Finishing second is last weekend's soft blockbuster, Jumper. After opening to $27.4 million over the first three days of President's Day weekend, Jumper did the expected, grossing $12.7 million and plunging 54%. With ugly word-of-mouth jumping off Jumper, Fox has to be happy that they debuted this one on Valentine's Day, earning as much as possible in the film's first five days of release ($34 million). Those five days are going to save this one from flop status, as the $90 million film has now earned $56.2 million. It should finish with about $85 million.