Audiences Flock to District 9
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
August 16, 2009
It's questionable whether Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be able to make it to the $300 million mark, particularly as its weekend-to-weekend drops have been larger than one might hope for a movie so highly regarded by critics. The sixth title in the series fell 42% to $5.1 million, and now has a running total of $283.9 million. Still, no one involved in the creation of the film is going to be too torn up over its performance, particularly as it has also accumulated more than $540 million overseas. Also, given the fact that it has IMAX theaters to itself until September, it's going to slowly build its numbers and might do a little better than expected in the end.
The Ugly Truth managed to hold up better this weekend, its third, than it did in its previous frame. The Katherine Heigl/Gerard Butler (get ready to see a lot more of him before the year is out) romantic comedy fell 33% to $4.5 million and has a running total of $77.5 million. That's about double its budget, which has to make Sony very happy, and also guarantees that Heigl is going to be the go-to gal for these types of roles for awhile to come.
John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, has long been a fan of Japanese animation savant Hayao Miyazaki. And he has good reason for this admiration. Miyazaki has really never had a misstep in his long and industrious career, which began in animated television series and then moved on to become an empire known as Studio Ghibli in his home country. Because they love his work so much, Disney decided to put some real support behind Miyazaki's latest movie, Ponyo, and release it in 927 theaters rather than take the more guarded approach and give it the limited release that they have with previous films, such as Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. This means that Ponyo was able to take in $3.5 million for the weekend, which is about a third of what the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away managed in its entire run. We'd still posit that the limited approach might have been best, because this movie is primarily going to attract devotees of the director. It's certainly a great film for kids, but those unfamiliar with Miyazaki's storytelling style were probably not the target audience. If you're willing to be adventurous, though, this is a movie that is 95% fresh at RottenTomatoes and has some of the most vivid, beautiful 2-D animation you're likely to see in the next few years.
Rounding out the top ten is indie sensation (500) Days of Summer, which earned another $3 million this weekend and fell only 19% on its strong word-of-mouth. Fox Searchlight has a real talent for turning these little indie flicks into box office gold, and (500) Days of Summer's current box office total sits at a quite solid $18 million. Since the Academy Awards has expanded the best picture field to ten, it has to be considered a contender for a slot.