Star Power Back In Control of Box Office
By John Hamann
March 22, 2009
Finishing third is the return of Julia Roberts in Duplicity, a smart, romantic corporate espianoge flick co-starring the always great Clive Owen. While it wasn't the film for everyone (is anyone under 21 going to see this movie?) it still did okay, earning $14.4 million from 2,574 venues. While this is still likely a leggy film – it was an okay 65% fresh at RottenTomatoes – the opening weekend comes in smaller than Julia's paycheck for the film ($15 million). Considering this is Roberts first headlining film since Mona Lisa Smile ($11.5 million opening, $63.8 million finish), the deal seems somewhat kind. Gone are the days of nine consecutive openers earning between $19 million and $38 million between 1997 and 2001 – too many years off has caved in the fanbase. Julia has only appeared in one film since 2004's Ocean's Twelve (Charlie Wilson's War), choosing instead to do some animation (The Ant Bully, Charlotte's Web), and raise her newborn twin children. For Clive Owen, this is a better start than February's The International, in which he co-starred with Naomi Watts. That one opened to $9 million and has just about petered out with about $25 million. And while I love Clive Owen, where the hell is George Clooney? This one would have doubled the opening weekend if Clooney was in it. In the end, Duplicity acts as more of a warm up for Julia Roberts, but I see it doing okay over the next few weekends.
Last weekend's number one picture, Race to Witch Mountain, finishes fourth in its sophomore weekend. The Disney reboot earned $13 million in its second frame, and was off an okay, but not great, 47%. I thought the legs would be better, as last weekend Race had an internal multiplier of 3.7, which usually indicates strong legs through the run of a film. More likely in this case, though, is the fact that Race debuted at the top of some kids spring break, meaning the kids were at school on Friday, but then not on Monday, leading to the higher multiplier. For The Rock, this doesn't have the legs of The Game Plan (28% drop in the second weekend, and a repeat at number one), but is still a solid effort. At this point, Race to Witch Mountain does not look like a $100 million film, but it has had a strong start with a $44.7 million gross so far.
Limping into fifth spot is Watchmen, as the Warner Bros. event film suffers another massive blow. Now in its third frame, Watchmen earned $6.7 million, a far cry from the $55 million it opened to only three weekends ago. We knew Watchmen was going to be frontloaded, but with a 68% drop last weekend and a 62% drop this weekend, Watchmen is done, and unless there is some massive run on its DVDs, this franchise is over. Watchmen is behaving much like its comic book brethren The Incredible Hulk (the second one), which opened to $55 million, dropped 60% in its second frame, and another 57% in its third. At least The Incredible Hulk managed to get to $116 million after three weekends; Watchmen sits with $98 million after the same amount of time. Don't forget – Watchmen cost Warner Bros. $150 million to make, along with part of the proceeds going to Fox due to the ownership lawsuit.