Weekend Wrap-Up

Lakeview Terrace leads dull weekend

By John Hamann

September 21, 2008

Stay behind me, Kerry Washington. I, Nite Owl, will protect you.

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Last weekend, moviegoers were treated to four new releases, and dutifully crowned Burn After Reading their top choice via ticket sales. Nothing was really hot, and nothing flopped badly. We just saw a whole bunch of new product released into movie theaters. This weekend, things don't change at all, and moviegoers have another four new releases to choose from, as studios are using the ‘see what sticks' approach to releasing movies. The problem we end up with is an average RottenTomatoes score of 41% for the eight films released in the last two weekends - which is particularly bad when you consider that Burn After Reading sits at 79% fresh, and Ghost Town at 87%.

Our number one film of the weekend is a title that doesn't even sound like a movie title - it sounds more like an open house advertisement. The winner is Lakeview Terrace, the thriller from Sony and Neil LaBute. It stars Samuel L. Jackson as a nasty neighbor and cop who torments the nice folks next door. Somehow, with only a TV ad that has Jackson looking threatening, this one won the weekend with a gross of $15.6 million (how bored are we?). Released to 2,464 venues, Lakeview Terrace had a venue average of $6,331.


Does Jackson like to work or what? Since Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in May 2005, Jackson has appeared in or lent his voice to a dozen films in a little over three years. Some were excellent performances and did very well, like 1408 ($20.6 million opening, $72 million finish); some were excellent performances that did very poorly, like Black Snake Moan ($4 million opening, $9.3 million finish); and some were just plain awful on many levels, like The Man ($4 million opening, $8.3 million finish) and Home of the Brave ($50,000 finish against a $12 million budget). By my count, since appearing in 1990's Goodfellas as Stacks Edwards, Jackson has been featured in 65 films. He has appeared in 11 films that have grossed more than $100 million, and five that have surpassed $200 million (thanks to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). You can usually count on Jackson to open a film on his own between $10 and $15 million, and Lakeview Terrace carries a tight budget of only $22 million, which is going to make this one a decent win for Sony and Screen Gems.

Finishing a solid second is Burn After Reading, last weekend's number one film, which was a first for the Coen Brothers. With so much new product being flung at screens, Burn didn't have a lot of traction, and earned $11.3 million this weekend. It was off 41% from its debut frame, but sets another historic mark for the Coens, as this is their first film to have back to back $10 million plus weekends. Burn After Reading has a budget of about $40 million and a gross so far of $36.4 million, so this is going to be an excellent entry for Focus Features. Next up for the Coens is A Serious Man, which has zero big names, unlike Burn After Reading.

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