Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2009

By Michael Lynderey

December 29, 2009

What did you say about Love Actually?

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That said, there was not enough enchantment to lift up the weekend's other entries, Renee Zellweger's mediocre Minnesota comedy New in Town ($16 million total) or somewhat fun PG-13 thriller The Uninvited ($28 million). But 'twas a bewitched box office time nevertheless.


It was hard to know quite what to expect from February '09 - would every other movie pass $140 million? Would Confessions of a Shopaholic outgross Titanic? - but looking back at it now, the month seems like an innocent enough time, with only a few movies deviating from their natural box office habitat.

I'd peg the first weekend's He's Just Not That Into You as a slight recipient of that January box office tomfoolery, though, but in retrospect, it kind of makes sense that a romantic comedy with a few big stars (Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston) would open to $27 million and total $93 million. Sure, a little high, yes, but understandable still. The rest of the weekend wasn't so scary - sci-fi hodgepodge Push finishing with $31 million, Steve Martin's The Pink Panther 2 putting that franchise out of its misery with a $35 million total (down from the first film's $82 million), and much-beloved CGI excursion Coraline legging it up to $75 million. Hey, it happens.


When you look at the totals for the next weekend's films, they don't seem so weird either: $25 million for Clive Owen and Naomi Watts' slow-paced thriller The International; $44 million for Isla Fisher's debut as lead, the critically-maligned ode to big spending, Confessions of a Shopaholic; and finally, $64 million for extremely-unneeded horror remake Friday the 13th. That last number may seem innocent enough, but it represented a sort of epic point for the art of front-loading. Friday the 13th, you see, opened on Friday, February 13th with a staggering $19 million first day, dropped quite so much as to end up with a $40 million weekend, and then dropped more, more, and more to finish with a number no higher than the aforementioned $64 million total. And gee, by the way, did they really have to stop giving the series roman numerals? Jason was on Part VIII in 1989, and would have reached Part XIII by the time the inevitable remake-of-a-sequel comes cruising to town. Seems like a waste.

February 20th - 22nd was lorded over by Tyler Perry, whose Madea Goes to Jail opened with a shockingly high $41 million (his biggest opening) and finished with a front-loaded-enough $90 million (his highest total...). Perry's previous two films had each grossed less than their predecessor, and so putting the focus again on Madea (absent since 2006's Madea's Family Reunion, notwithstanding a cameo in 2008's Meet the Browns) was the logical option to bring Perry's box office back from the brink. And it certainly worked. The weekend's other title was comedy Fired Up!, which totaled $17 million and hilariously starred a 31-year-old and a 28-year-old as two high school students. But enough about them, because the next weekend featured a startling act of courage that we should all dearly remember. You see, by this point, every single weekend since January 9th had featured at least one new title opening with more than $20 million, usually for reasons that still remain quite opaque. The Jonas Brothers - you know the Jonas Brothers, right? - surveyed this box office landscape and gave it a most disapproving nod. This has to stop, they said in typical Jonas-esque unison - the box office had gone out of control, overrun by absurd opening weekends handed out to Madea and Jason and angry guys with guns avenging their friends or family members, and someone simply has to do something about it all, now. And so, on February 27th, three mop-haired pop singers stood up to Blartism in a cry of "No more!" Their film, The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, was meant as a follow-up to the $65 million-grossing Hannah Montana concert film from the year before. But for one reason or the other, those kind of numbers weren't to be: the Jonas Brothers opened with a mere $12 million and finished with $19 million, defiantly breaking the tradition of $20 million+ '09 openers. The weekend's other film, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li ($8 million total), didn't exactly help matters there either. So, one thing was for sure: thanks to the bravery and heroism of The Jonas Brothers, the box office blow-out that characterized winter '08-09 had now come to an end.

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