Jim Carrey Says Yes, Audiences Say Meh
By David Mumpower
December 21, 2008
Even with the early disappointment of Yes Man, the weekend box office still could have been saved by Will Smith. After all, he's done it before. In fact, he just did it last Christmas when I Am Legend became the biggest December opening ever with a $77.2 million start on the way to an exemplary domestic run of $256.4 million. It became the third $250 million hit of Smith's remarkable box office career as well as the seventh of what has now become eight consecutive $100 million domestic performers. With Hancock, he moved ahead of Tom Hanks and tied Tom Cruise's record for the most $100 million movies in a row.
Another $100 million movie with his latest release would break the record, but Smith is going to have to work that much harder to accomplish the feat. Seven Pounds opened to only $16 million this weekend in 2,758 locations. This is Smith's worst opening for a film since 2001's Ali (fact check), which was also the last Smith film to earn less than $100 million. That title finished with only $58.2 million domestically; this would be a good-sized hit for your average movie star, but it's what qualifies as a disappointment for the Fresh Prince.
Seven Pounds had a per-venue average of $5,801, which narrowly beats Slumdog Millionaire for best in the top ten. This number is on a par with Smith's least popular films this decade. The Legend of Bagger Vance, a zen golf movie set in the 1930s (seriously), had a per-venue average of $5,588 while the Muhammad Ali biopic was $6,014. Given that the combined domestic box office of these two titles is $88.9 million, Smith's streak of $100 million movies is in significant jeopardy. We'll know as soon as next Sunday whether Seven Pounds has recovered enough to make a strong run at that particular threshold. Until then, what can be said with certainty is that critics feel this is his worst film since Bad Boys II in 2003. Only 27% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave this one their thumbs up; suffice it to say that Seven Pounds is not going to be the awards contender it had been expected to be. The good news for Sony is that this production was made for a modest $55 million, meaning it should finish in the black by the end of its theatrical run.
The Tale of Despereaux, a charming animated film about a heroic mouse with Dumbo ears, earns third place this weekend. Exhibited in 3,104 locations, the Universal release managed a respectable $10.5 million with a per-venue average of $3,810. This relatively unheralded production is positioned to be the family film choice of the holidays, meaning it could wind up a low key hit. Also, while this is damning with faint praise, the Kate DiCamillo adaptation is the best reviewed new release this weekend. 51% of Rotten Tomatoes critics liked it, which makes it roughly twice the crowd pleaser that Seven Pounds is.
The two movies that round out the top five are heading in opposite directions. The Day The Earth Stood Still falls from first to fourth place with $10.2 million. How poor is this result? The Keanu Reeves sci-fi flick is down a whopping 67% from last weekend. This isn't summer and we aren't talking about a huge debut last frame, either. In short, this movie is not getting it done at the box office as demonstrated by its ten-day tally of only $48.6 million. The only positive Fox can take from its performance thus far is that the film is doing well overseas, surpassing its domestic total abroad. Meanwhile, the news couldn't be much sunnier for Four Christmases. While dropping from second to fifth place this weekend, it still manages a solid $7.7 million, a drop of 41% from $13.1 million last frame. It has a 26-day total of $100.2 million and now it's Christmas week, the time when everyone always penciled in this movie's best days after opening weekend.