10,000 B.C. Leads Slow Box Office
By John Hamann
March 9, 2008
After a decidedly dumpy weekend in the last frame when Will Ferrell's Semi-Pro led the top 12 to an ugly sub-$80 million weekend, a big, idiotic, CG movie has brought the box office back to life (as usual). As expected, 10,000 B.C. led all comers this weekend using effects - and not A-list type stars - to draw moviegoers into its ugly web. Also opening this weekend is College Road Trip with Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone, and Jason Statham's The Bank Job, which looks a lot more like Snatch than Crank ever could. The woolly mammoth in the room, though, is last year's 300, which earned an amazing $70 million over opening weekend, and provides some seriously stiff competition against erasing a five-weekend losing streak at the 2008 box office.
Is star power dead at the movies? The days of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, Willis and Roberts seem to be coming to an end. At today's movie theaters, if your film isn't filled with CG beasts and baddies, it doesn't have the wow factor, and fails to entice audiences - at least to level where studio payback is realistic. Looking at films like 10,000 B.C., 300 (I wonder how many films in the next year will be based on numbers...), and Transformers, they all chose effects over any kind of actor that would draw audiences. It's true that Will Smith, Jim Carrey and Tom Hanks can bring fans to the table, but if they aren't in films heavy on the CG (I Am Legend, Bruce Almighty) or with big built-ins (The Da Vinci Code) studio executives sweat right up to opening day. This weekend brings us 10,000 B.C., which stars Steven Strait, who hasn't been in much of anything except a role in Sky High, and a Renny Harlin horror film called The Covenant. The biggest name in the supposed blockbuster might be Cliff Curtis, who was in Live Free or Die Hard and Whale Rider. IMDb lists the budget of 10,000 B.C. at $75 million, and if 10% was spent on casting, I would be quite surprised.
Like it or not, the number one film of the weekend is 10,000 B.C., which marks the return of Roland Emmerich, who hasn't been in the director's chair since 2004's The Day After Tomorrow. 10,000 B.C. earned a large $35.7 million this weekend from 3,410 venues, and had a venue average of $10,478. If you didn't know that 10,000 B.C. was going to bark like a dog, you should have your head examined. The lack of any kind of dialogue in the TV ads made this one smell for me initially, and then one line slipped into the ads about a week ago, and it was in English, a language not spoken in 10,000 B.C. I think Roland Emmerich may have seen Mel Gibson's Apocolypto, and thought, "What a good idea! I won't need any stars, and I can get rid of those annoying subtitles."
Critics weren't impressed. At RottenTomatoes, only six critics out of a possible 76 liked this historical oddity, giving the latest Emmerich a fresh rating of 8%. Even the RottenTomatoes community, which is much, much kinder than critics, only liked this one to the tune of a 44% fresh rating.