By John Hamann
March 2, 2008
So what went wrong here? Semi-Pro started off on the right foot, with the writer of Old School and Road Trip on board in the form of Scot Armstrong, but then New Line hired a director who is really a producer in Kent Alterman (producer of Elf, Balls of Fury and Son of Mask, director of nothing). I imagine things went off the rails at this point, and the reviews for Semi-Pro are evidence. At RottenTomatoes, 107 reviewers phoned in their thoughts, and only 27 found something to like, leaving Semi-Pro with a rotten rating of 25%. Let's remember that Blades of Glory was 69% fresh, Old School was 59% fresh, and Talladega Nights was 72% fresh. Critics like Ferrell, but they certainly didn‘t like Semi-Pro. The basketball comedy isn't going to be a train wreck, as production costs for something like this are most likely in the $50 million range, but it is a huge step backward for Ferrell. Next up for the star is Step Brothers, a comedy from director Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Anchorman) and producer Judd Apatow, and then comes the much ballyhooed Land of the Lost, set for release in 2009.
Pulling up in second is last weekend's quiet winner in Vantage Point, and it even managed to keep its drop below 50%. In a weekend of not-so-good things, Vantage Point makes out okay. The thriller from Columbia Pictures earned $13 million and fell 43% - not a fantastic drop, but one that will keep Vantage Point on the road to about $65 million. So far, it's earned $41 million.
Finishing third is The Spiderwick Chronicles, the kids flick based on lit. The Spiderwick Chronicles got off to just an okay start with a $19 million first weekend, fell fairly in its second weekend earning $13 million and a 30% plunge, and has earned $8.8 million for another okay drop of 33%. Whatever the total, it's nice to see Spiderwick get ahead of Jumper, as at the very least it's a better film. The Spiderwick Chronicles have now earned $55.1 million, but is still a long way off of its $95 million production budget
Despite a venue count of only 1,166, The Other Boleyn Girl sneaks into a top four spot this weekend, thanks to a weak crop of holdovers. The historical epic earned a good $8.3 million from 1,166 venues this weekend, and ended the weekend with the best venue average in the top 12 at $7,118. Boleyn Girl owes its fair opening to two fair females in Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. Marketing for this one put Semi-Pro to shame, and made The Other Boleyn Girl the choice for women this weekend. Critics weren't impressed. At RottenTomatoes, The Other Boleyn Girl had to settle with a rotten rating of 38% after only 35 out of 92 critics liked this enough to give it a thumbs up. I don't think this one is going to have much staying power, but stranger things have happened. In the end, this should end up as a win for Focus Features, as international sales should be strong as well.