Weekend Wrap-Up

Hangover Still Strong But Bullock Breaks Out

By John Hamann

June 21, 2009

Poor Oscar is having to take a side job to supplement his income at Dunder-Mifflin.

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Sometimes the weekends that seem to be the least interesting at the box office become the great ones, and that's what we have this frame. Back-to-back weekend champ The Hangover took on two new comedies - Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal, and Jack Black and Michael Cera in Year One. With all of these potential yuks, one would have to fail, right? If there were three action films competing for top spot, at least one would definitely miss, right?

Our number one movie for the first time in two weekends is not The Hangover (although it did very well). Instead, somewhat surprisingly, it is The Proposal, Sandra Bullock's new rom-com co-starring Ryan Reynolds. Sandra Bullock had never had a $20 million plus opener – until this weekend – as The Proposal broke out to a surprisingly strong $34.1 million over three days. The Touchstone (Disney) release opened at 3,056 venues and had a theatre average of $11,163, by far the best in the top ten. Considering there are seven (!) other comedy features in the top ten, this is even more of a surprise, but with some soft openings and holds over the last couple of weekends (My Life in Ruins, Land of the Lost, The Taking of Pellham 1 2 3), The Proposal was well timed to break out. It obviously drew men as well as women, and was the Friday night date movie of choice, as it eclipsed The Hangover by almost $8 million.


For Sandra Bullock, The Proposal is a big step up over her previous work. Her former biggest opening - due mostly to inflation - was March 2007's Premonition, which opened in third to $17.5 million behind the second weekend of 300 and the third weekend of Wild Hogs. Premonition was critically reviled, scoring only 8% fresh at RottenTomatoes. Her second biggest opening was another much-hated flick. In this case, it was the disaster that was Speed 2: Cruise Control, which opened to $16.2 million in 1997. Between those films, though, Bullock opened 13 films between $9.1 million (Oscar winner Crash) and $16.1 million (The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood), and was one of Hollywood's most consistent bets over more than a decade. She has had four films gross more than $100 million, and The Proposal should be her fifth.

Why did The Proposal break out over opening weekend and not something like Two Weeks Notice, despite having very similar mixed reviews? It just may be Ryan Reynolds, the goofy comedian who has definitely worked hard to raise a name for himself. Reynolds was most recently in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), which is certain to raise an actor's profile, but also through a string of comedies where Reynolds was able to convey a certain charm and charisma. Films like Adventureland, Just Friends and Definitely, Maybe were not huge hits, but did create a following for the young actor. Reynolds has been waiting to break out in a movie like this, and will hopefully replace the smarmy Matthew McConaughey as the go-to-guy for rom-coms.

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