Labor Day Drops Movie World Back to Reality
By Kim Hollis
September 6, 2009
With the arrival of the Labor Day holiday weekend, North American movie audiences breathed a collective "meh." Rather than waste time in a darkened movie theater, it was time to move on to other, more vital pursuits. College football kicked off its first weekend with some thrillers, and it was also a great time for that final outdoor hurrah before the reality of cold, rainy, wintry weather sets in. New films included All About Steve, Gamer and Extract, and they all performed about exactly as you would expect.
The number one movie of the weekend is not the comedy that features stars from two of the biggest surprise hits of the summer. It's also not the futuristic action flick with the hunky guy from 300. Instead, in a bit of a surprise, our biggest movie of the weekend is The Final Destination, repeating its position atop the charts for a second weekend in a row. The gory horror flick took in $12.4 million over the three-day portion of the weekend, which equals a drop of 55%. The movie has its 3-D screens and the holiday weekend to thank for its better-than-usual-for-the-genre performance. With a gross so far of $47.6 million, The Final Destination is only about $7 million away from being the top box office earner in the franchise, which will make Warner Bros. very happy indeed. It did carry a somewhat hefty budget of $43 million, but it's going to earn all that back and then some, especially once DVD is counted into the total. This probably guarantees that we're going to see The Final Final Destination or something like that.
That means that second place is reserved for the ill-conceived romantic comedy All About Steve. Originally planned as a March release, the studio eventually moved it to the Labor Day frame, which might actually have worked in its favor. The stars of the film are Bradley Cooper, who is coming off the summer comedy surprise The Hangover (almost $275 million domestic to date) and Sandra Bullock, who had the biggest movie of her career in The Proposal (just over $160 million to date). The combination of their talents did not mean big numbers, though, particularly since All About Steve is one of the most critically reviled movies of the year. It currently sits at 5% fresh at RottenTomatoes, with only four positive reviews out of 72 (and you almost have to wonder, given the comments in the negative reviews, what the positive reviewers were smoking). Even so, All About Steve managed to bring in a three-day total of $11.2 million from 2,251 venues, good for a per-location average of 4,976. This one is probably going to fade fast given the horrific critical response. The Bullock spell has faded quickly.
Inglourious Basterds continues to hold decently for the Weinsteins, thanks mainly to stellar word-of-mouth. Even those who have tired of director Quentin Tarantino's fast talking, uber-violent movies have had their curiosity piqued, especially given all the buzz about Christoph Waltz's performance. Over the three-day portion of the holiday weekend, Basterds took in $10.8 million, a decline of 44% from last weekend. So far, the movie has a grand total of $91 million, meaning that budgetary costs have been recouped and that Harvey and Bob have something to crow about. It seems certain that they'll push the film for a number of awards, too, which means that Inglourious Basterds will have a nice, slow, steady build to an excellent final total.