Wall-E + Wanted = Wow
By John Hamann
June 29, 2008
Tracking estimated the opening for WALL-E to be "more than $50 million", which really means they didn't know, as kid films are admittedly tough to track (I wonder how many 13-year-olds picked Wanted as their choice of the weekend). WALL-E performed better than expected because Pixar controlled the word-of-mouth this time out, with few reviews seven days prior to release (earlier reviews may have increased talk about the lack of dialogue in this picture). The legs for WALL-E may be more interesting than the opening, as this does sound like a thinking man's (or child's) film. Still, Ratatouille was a similar kind of movie, and its final domestic gross was more than four times its opening. Internationally, the lack of dialogue should help WALL-E's legs in the long run, and this one should end up with $750 million once all receipts are counted - not bad when the production cost came in at $120 million.
Our number two film is Wanted, another big tracking miss. Based on a graphic novel by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, the movie stars Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy. Wanted walloped tracking scores, opening to $51.1 million from a moderate 3,175 venues. Analysts were predicting an opening of $35 to $40 million, which makes them two for two on the miss side this weekend, and adds to a summer of ugliness in terms of tracking.
Who is to thank for the large success of Wanted? Universal mostly, but big thanks have to go to Angelina Jolie, who might be the leading female summer name working today. She added her voice to Kung Fu Panda, which opened to over $60 million only a few short weekends ago, got Mr. & Mrs. Smith above $50 million, and helped open Beowulf over $25 million. The woman embodies sex appeal, and brought males out in force for the aptly titled Wanted. Also, her adoptions and willingness to take on human rights issues ring true with women, which may have made the fairer gender more apt to check this one out (and James McAvoy would have helped in that department as well). McAvoy is turning into a star, and the above-the-title recognition for Wanted adds to the success he found in Atonement, and will find if he ends up in The Hobbit as Bilbo Baggins.
As stated, Wanted was once a graphic novel, and with a string of hits coming out of the graphic novel industry, this one won't be the last. The poster boy for the graphic novel is 300, the film that starred no one but looked cool, as it became a $70 million opener and a $210 million domestic finisher. Sin City opened to $29 million, finished with $74 million, and now has two sequels lined up for the near future. V for Vendetta also earned over $70 million domestically, and the list goes on. Graphic novels are the perfect fit for Hollywood films - they can be over-the-top, violent, and drip with good ideas. Hopefully, we will see many more in the near future.