Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

October 15, 2008

The Cardinals knocked that guy down. *A lot*.

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She's tired of playing pirates, she says. She's apparently not tired of period pieces.

Kim Hollis: The Duchess expanded to 1,207 theaters this weekend, earning $3.3 million. It now has a grand total of $5.6 million. What do you think of this result and how does it impact Keira Knightley's Academy Awards contention?

Scott Lumley: I really like Keira Knightley. A lot. However, she seems to keep on playing the same character over and over and over. I don't know why this would even be considered for an Oscar. It's a period piece with a stale script that nobody cares about.

Sean Collier: *insert "Hardest Working Bodice in Hollywood" joke here*

Shane Jenkins: Having seen the movie, I would say Keira probably doesn't need to worry about practicing any acceptance speeches. She is perfectly adequate, and I suppose the same is true for the movie - it gets the job done. But there's nothing special about it, no clear reason for it to exist. And I think audiences have picked up that vibe. A ho-hum gross for a ho-hum film.

Jason Lee: I'm sure Paramount Vantage HAD to be looking for a better result than what they got - a $2,700 venue average for a film with Oscar buzz in its first weekend of expansion? Disappointing.

As for her Oscar chances, I love Knightley but I just don't see it happening. Other than Cate Blanchett in an inexplicable nomination this year, I can't think of any other leading lady in a costume drama landing in an Oscar nom in the last seven or eight years. Of course, there was Dame Judy Dench but she swept in on the Shakespeare in Love bandwagon. And was overdue. But that's another story.

Kim Hollis: I'm not sure the box office makes much difference in her Academy Award prospects. What does matter is the fact that there is consistently a dearth of quality roles for actresses that even merit that kind of attention. I think she has as good a shot this year as she did for Pride & Prejudice or Atonement.


City of wha?

Kim Hollis: City of Ember, something I'm told is a kids' movie starring Bill Murray, opened to $3.2 million in 2,022 venues. Why did it do so poorly?

Pete Kilmer: The fact that no one has heard of it. I'm sure it sold a ton of books but it's not Harry Potter level. Neither were Spiderwick and the others.

Tim Briody: This is yet another Walden Media film adaptation of second tier children's literature, which is to say that very few were even aware of its existence until the film came out. Why Bridge to Terabithia did so well and the rest flopped, I can't say.

Kevin Chen: Probably because Bridge to Terabithia is a Newberry Medal winning book that parents can remember reading and took their kids to go see it. Multi-generational awareness would seem to be the key, and short of Harry Potter, none of these new franchises seem to have it.

Tim Briody: Thanks Kevin, I really think you nailed it. I have a feeling all these recent franchises such as Spiderwick Chronicles and the Ember series are rapidly falling to "we need the next Harry Potter franchise now!" syndrome, and they're suffering for it. I wasn't aware that Terabithia was significantly older.

Calvin Trager: I'd like to expand on Kevin's point. With Harry Potter we saw multiple generations (i.e. both parents and children) concurrently reading the books, and so it became an exception to the vast amount of time it typically takes to create the perfect storm scenario for kids/family movies. Bridge to Terabithia and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe are the rule - the rule being that kids books are read by kids, and so an actual generation must turn over before a kids property can create full family appeal. City of Ember, Spiderwick, etc. are "rule" properties that were greenlighted on the faulty premise that they could be "exceptions" like Potter.

Scott Lumley: I watched... or tried to watch the Golden Compass this weekend. It reminded me of a lot of other children's literature movies that I had seen, in that the concepts were ridiculous, the characters were absurd, the adults (save for a select few...) are played like morons and the plot was borderline lunacy. I think when a film like this gets made, there are hard decisions made on how religiously the production team is going to stick to the source material, and unless the source material is amazing, it usually doesn't work. People need to understand that Harry Potter is the exception, not the rule.

Shane Jenkins: I, unlike apparently everyone else in the country, was actually really looking forward to this, mostly based on the production design and the fact that it comes from the director of the awesome Monster House. And it's a perfectly fine movie, if not quite the goosebump-inducer I was hoping for. But man, did Fox ever drop the marketing ball on this one. They bought virtually no ads for it, and made the puzzling decision to not screen it for critics. It's a lot better than that would suggest. Is Fox just writing off 2008 and calling it a year at this point?

Jason Lee: It is an inescapable fact that Walden Media is incapable of opening a movie successfully sans the Disney machine. Until this happens, I will continue to pencil in a sub $5 million gross in my monthly forecasts for each Walden film.

Kim Hollis: Jason, I think you've got it exactly right. For whatever reason, Walden has very little power without Disney's marketing behind them. They've had umpteen failures and while I admire what they are trying to do (adapt quality literature to film for a young audience), it just isn't working. Kids want chihuahuas, not sweeping epics.

Brandon Scott: Awareness level was not at an all-time high here. I didn't know it was coming out, nor what it is/was about, and most were of similar knowledge apparently.

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