Weekend Wrap-Up

Max Payne Knocks Off the Dogs

By John Hamann

October 19, 2008

We advise you not to invite that thing in.

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I thought this was a very strange choice for Mark Wahlberg. After scoring an Oscar nomination for The Departed, Wahlberg has made some brutal choices in terms of film roles, but has had huge success on HBO, executive producing Entourage and In Treatment. After The Departed, Mark Wahlberg made Shooter ($47 million finish), We Own the Night ($28.5 million finish), and the absolutely brutal summer film, The Happening, which despite its awfulness, opened to $30 million and finished with a domestic total of $64.5 million. None of these films have received any good reviews whatsoever, and Max Payne is no different. Of the 74 critics that ventured out to see this one, only 13 liked it, giving it a quite rotten rating of 18%. Expect Max Payne to fade significantly next weekend.

Second place belongs to Beverly Hills Chihuahua, winner of the last two weekends. After earning $17.5 million last weekend and $29.3 million when it opened, the Disney flick earned $11.2 million in its third frame. Chihuahua was off 36%, which was slightly better than last weekend's drop of 40%. Despite the tumbles, Beverly Hills Chihuahua has to be considered a very strong entry for the folks at Disney, as so far, the talking Chihuahuas have earned $69.1 million. Budget data isn't available, but an educated guess puts it between $30 and $40 million, if not less.


Third goes to our good news story of the weekend, The Secret Life of Bees from Fox Searchlight. Virtually hidden, Bees managed a very solid weekend, earning a surprise $11.1 million from a small venue count of 1,591. It had an excellent venue average of $6,945 - the best in the top ten. Little known to mainstream audiences, Bees did very well with its target audience. Based on a novel by Sue Monk Kidd, Bees had an impressive cast that would have drawn viewers beyond fans of the book. The cast included Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson and pop music princess Alicia Keys. Reviews were the best of any film opening this weekend, but were still mixed, with 51 of 87 coming in fresh, for a score of 59%. Produced by Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett (amongst others), Bees cost only $11 million to make, so Bees has already earned back its production budget over opening weekend. For Fox Searchlight, The Secret Life of Bees could be the start of a very productive fall/winter season for the art house offshoot of Fox, as next they have Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, followed by Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, two films that have received a ton of praise from recent Film Festivals.

W., the political biography released by Lionsgate, comes up in fourth place. This one was a hard to judge heading into opening weekend. As BOP's Reagen Sulewski said in his weekend forecast column, the left side of the political spectrum hates Bush Jr., and those on the right no longer want to support him, even in a dark movie theatre. In the end, Reagen's estimate of $9 million wasn't far off, as the film came in at $10.6 million from 2,030 venues. Obviously, neither side was too on board for W., as the advertising made it unclear if the current president was being mocked or lauded. Reviews were as confused as audience participation, coming in at 54% fresh. For Oliver Stone, W. is a step back from some of his recent disappointments, like Alexander ($13.7 million opening), Any Given Sunday ($13.5 million opening), and well back of his most recent release, the more successful World Trade Center ($18.7 million opening).

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