Weekend Wrap-Up for October 1-3, 2010

Network Rules Softly; Let Me In, Case 39 Bomb

By John Hamann

October 3, 2010

Your aura is purple!

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I read a book once about how shocked Fox executives were when they saw Fincher's cut of Fight Club, believing it to be unreleasable. They were wrong. Fight Club opened in only 1,922 venues (good try, Fox), and despite being under-sold, the Ed Norton/Brad Pitt flick earned $11 million over an October weekend in 1999, and went on to earn $37 million domestically, and over a $100 million worldwide. I can only imagine the profits still being earned off of DVD and Blu-Ray sales today. Fincher then took more of a turn toward the traditional as the new decade began, making Panic Room in 2002 with Jodie Foster (and a young Kristen Stewart). Panic Room carried the biggest opening of Fincher's career at $30 million, and finished with $95 million in the US, with another $100 million coming from overseas. Then came Zodiac – his only almost-flop – as that one earned only $33 million in the US (despite being critcally lauded), and $50 million overseas, against a production budget of $85 million. Then, in late 2008, Fincher released The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which carried a huge risk for Paramount, as the negative cost alone came in at $160 million. Button didn't earn that much domestically ($127.5 million), but picked up over $200 million overseas. It also earned Fincher his first Oscar nomination.

That brings us to today and The Social Network. Reviews for this one are as impeccable as they get. Of the 161 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only five were negative, mostly from the crew that enjoys going against the grain (yes, I'm looking at you AGAIN Armond White – folks, if you live in New York, don't get your movie reviews from something called “New York Press” - this guy hated The Town, Inception, and The Social Network, just to name a few). Top Critics were 100% fresh for The Social Network. They call it "something special," "not to be missed," and "the best movie of the year." Yes, the movie is about Facebook, but it's good, exciting, well-made cinema, and I implore you to see it.


Those darned owls manage to take over second place, as The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole holds up pretty well in its second frame. Following its $16 million debut, The Owls fell 33% this weekend to $10.9 million, which is not bad at all, particularly as there isn't a lot of competition for families in the coming weeks. This $80 million film probably won't make that amount back domestically, but it could still work overseas and bail out Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow, partners on the production. It should see more than $50 million stateside, but will likely need another $100 million overseas to pay for production and marketing costs, if not more. The Owls of Ga'Hoole has a running total of $30 million.

Finishing third this weekend is Wall Street 2: The Squeakquel (a BOP inside joke). After a slightly under-whelming $19 million debut last weekend, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps did the expected this weekend, falling 47% and earning another $10.1 million. Wall Street 2 is obviously not building on strong word-of-mouth, as it behaves more like a sequel than an original adult drama. Budget estimates for the greed sequel are all over the place, with a reported range between $53 and $80 million. I'm looking for this one to finish with about $60 million, before taking a run at overseas cinemas. Currently, the Oliver Stone flick has brought in $35.9 million.

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