Apes Rise Again; The Help Comes Out of Nowhere
By John Hamann
August 14, 2011
Summertime drama usually doesn't work, or even happen in the first place. As readers of this column know, usually the only thing folks are going to the movie theater for in the summer is the roller coaster, the ride. They don't care if a film is good. They just want to be entertained in an air conditioned space for a couple of hours. Look at this weekend's top ten. How many dramas are there? The closest is Crazy Stupid Love, and that's a comedy. We've had Midnight in Paris on the periphery all summer, but again, comedy. We've had The Tree of Life play art houses, but the closest it got to the top ten was number 11. The summer drama is rare, and having one work is even more rare. In the last ten years, the most successful summer drama is Seabiscuit, the horse movie that earned $120 million for Universal in 2003. It opened in late July to $20 million, and earned six times its opening weekend gross. The Notebook is another example – it opened to $13.5 million in late June of 2004, and also earned six times its opening amount, taking in $81 million domestically. The Help is a very rare film, as it is good and caring during a movie season that is only opposite. It might not be my typical Friday night out, but I just may support it because it is so rare. I hope you do too.
Finishing third is Final Destination 5, the horror series that loves killing people with the lights on (can we go back to talking about The Help?). FD5 (yes there are five of them now) did quite well this weekend, taking in $18.4 million from 3,155 venues. This one opens higher than the others with numbers in them, but behind what was supposed to be the final final destination, aptly called The Final Destination. That one earned $27.4 million over opening weekend, but was about as final as Jason Voorhees. Final Destination 5 was a somewhat surprising 55% fresh at RottenTomaotes, but then a hook through the head is usually just that. Warner Bros. spent around $40 million filming this one, and will likely make a fortune. That "final" Final Destination made over $65 million domestically, and $120 million overseas. I'm starting to think they REALLY like crap overseas.
Fourth goes to those damn Smurfs again, as they play the guest that won't leave. The Smurfs earned $13.5 million, off just 35% compared to last weekend. The Smurfs, which some say cost as much as $110 million (that's a lot of blue paint) has earned $101.5 million so far, and is already over $50 million overseas. If you see a Smurf, step on it, and maybe we will be spared a Smurfquel. At this point, that's the only way.
Fifth is Jesse Eisenberg's 30 Minutes or Less, and back when I didn't know that this wasn't very good, it looked funny. 30 Minutes earned a soft $13 million this weekend from 2,888 venues after poor word-of-mouth seemed to trickle out. The RottenTomatoes score was 45% fresh, and with this type of comedy, you are either Superbad or you're not. It's too bad, as the film is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who teamed up with Eisenberg (and The Help's Emma Stone, and Friends With Benefits' Woody Harrelson) for Zombieland, which I consider one of the better films of the last decade. 30 Minutes or Less was produced for $28 million, and might make that before its done. Chalk this one up as a disappointment.