Star Power Back In Control of Box Office
By John Hamann
March 22, 2009
Three new films entered the box office race to cash mountain, and in what has become an anomaly in today's movie world, all three provided some heavy star power. The star race was between the old guard and the new. Nic Cage opened Knowing, a sci-fi disaster movie; Julia Roberts returned to the big screen in Duplicity with Clive Owen; and A-list up and comers Paul Rudd and Jason Segel debuted I Love You, Man – without the help of Judd Apatow. With impressive debuts and hauls from Watchmen, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Friday the 13th and Slumdog Millionaire - films with no big acting names – some wondered if gimmicks were replacing old school movie stars. This time around we have a combination of old school star-power, at least for a weekend.
Opening one weekend prior to the-sure-to-be-huge Monsters vs Aliens, we knew our number one film would just be a blip in box office history. It's fitting, then, that our number one film of the weekend is Knowing, Nic Cage's awful sci-fi disaster flick (coined as "Disaster Porn" by BOP's Reagen Sulewski – thanks for that!) and obvious one weekend wonder. Knowing earned $24.8 million over its opening frame from 3,332 venues, and earned a screen average of $7,447, narrowly the best in the top ten. This is Summit Entertainment's second number one opener after Twilight, and makes for a big weekend for the studio as their budding vamp franchise sees its original debut on DVD this week.
Nic Cage is becoming a bit of a joke these days, constantly appearing in these sci-fi/action flicks with absolutely no substance. Knowing comes at the end of a string that includes awful films like Bangkok Dangerous (9% fresh, $7.7 million opening), National Treasure: Book of Secrets (32% fresh, $44 million opening), Next (30% fresh, $7.1 million opening), and Ghost Rider (27% fresh, $45.4 million opening), just to name a few. Obviously, Cage has a following, but it must be with the right material – usually a built-in audience like Ghost Rider and the National Treasure sequel. This time out Cage picks an effects-heavy flick with Alex Proyas (Dark City) at the helm, and the box office result is middling-to-good. The problem here is that critics think that this one is too "out there" even for science fiction. Of the 54 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes only 18 are positive, leaving Knowing at 25% fresh. There are two things I'm knowing about Knowing: It won't come close to making $100 million, and a 50% drop next weekend is definitely in the cards.
Finishing a healthy second this weekend is I Love You, Man – the 'bromance' comedy starring two Judd Apatow vets, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, two guys that have kissed the B-list goodbye and moved up a notch. From Paramount, I Love You, Man did great business for an adult, R-rated comedy, as it grossed $18 million over its opening frame. It didn't open on a gargantuan number of screens – only 2,711 – so it brings home an excellent venue average of $6,641. For Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, I Love You, Man, adds to a string of smaller hits in which these two have appeared. Rudd's last film was Role Models, which was a suprise hit, opening to $19.2 million and finishing with $67.3 million domestically against what was probably a peanuts budget. Jason Segel is somewhat newer to the world of film. His last movie was Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the Judd Apatow-produced flick that opened to $17.7 million, and finished with $63.2 million domestically. Paul Rudd also appeared in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and it wasn't the first time the two had worked together. Prior to Sarah Marshall, Rudd and Segel appeared in Apatow's Knocked Up as smaller players, and that one opened to $30 million and finished with $150 million. I'm looking for I Love You, Man to work as good counter-programming against Monsters vs Aliens; however, in the following weekend it runs into Advenutreland, an R-rated comedy from Superbad director Greg Mottola. No matter what happens, I Love You, Man is a strong credit for Rudd and Segel – the film is 81% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and should have good legs in the weekends ahead.