Slow Weekend Slams Fame, Surrogates
By John Hamann
September 27, 2009
It's been ten years since Bruce Willis wowed a lot of people in The Sixth Sense, opening that one to $26.9 million and taking it to almost $300 million, and nine years since disappointing us in Unbreakable, which opened to a strong $30 million. Since then, Bruce Willis hasn't been all that hot at the box office. Still, excellent turns in films like The Whole Nine Yards, Sin City (next to the awful Michael Madsen, Willis came off like Orson Welles), Grindhouse, and Live Free or Die Hard, Willis is making decent choices. Next up for Willis is a couple of 2010 flicks, one for director Kevin Smith called A Couple of Dicks, and then a smaller part in Stallone's Expendables.
Like Bruce Willis, the production company behind Surrogates, Disney's Touchstone, has had just as rough a time over the past few years. Known for their live-action, more adult fare from Disney, Touchstone found some success this summer with Sandra Bullock's The Proposal ($162 million domestic finish), but its other recent female driven comedy, Confessions of a Shopaholic, failed with a $14 million opening and a $44 million finish. Touchstone seems to have a lot of almost-failures with big name talent. Some examples include: Kevin Costner in Swing Vote ($6 million opening, $16 million finish), Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna's ($3.5 million opening, $8 million finish), and Steve Carell in Dan in Real Life ($11.8 million opening, $47.6 million finish). Obvioulsy, Touchstone has seen some success with films like Wild Hogs ($40 million opening, $168 million finish), but all too often follows them up with expensive misses like The Alamo ($9 million opening, $22.4 million finish). Next up for the studio is another dubious entry called When in Rome, a comedy starring Kristin Bell and Josh Duhamel, which debuts in January.
Finishing third this weekend is Fame, a remake of the 1980 musical of the same name. The 2009 version was obviously missing the magic of the original, as this Fame got off to a $10 million start from a massive 3,096 venues. It had an ugly venue average of $3,241. MGM really dropped the ball on this one, as msucial/dance films targeted at youth have been on the upswing in the last few years. This one was obviously made on the cheap (the cheap here being $18 million), so while the financials will not be disastrous, one has to ask what could have been. After the likes of High School Musical 3, Dreamgirls, Mamma Mia!, and Hairspray, one might have thought Fame was heading for $100 million, but it is certainly not to be. Critics hated it, making it the worst reviewed film of the weekend, behind a sci-fi/horror and a sci-fi/action flick. Fame finished with a fresh rating of 28%, and a devastating tag line of "bland". While the theatrical gross will come in higher than the budget, this one won't even live on DVD. Call it a missed opportunity for the desperate-for-opportunity MGM.
Fourth spot goes to Matt Damon, Steven Soderbergh and The Informant!, which is enjoying its second weekend, doing better than most thought it would. The Informant! earned $6.9 million in its second weekend, dropping 34%. While that may look like a serious drop, let's remember the subject matter and the style, which likely had an impact on word-of-mouth. So far, The Informant! has earned a decent $21 million, against a budget of only $22 million.