Damon-less Bourne Takes The Dark Knight Down
By John Hamann
August 12, 2012
The audience, star and film-maker believed there was no more story to tell, and that the franchise was out of new ideas. Jason Bourne was successful as a character, and there was no other place to go. On the artistic side, that makes perfect sense, but the Bourne franchise had earned Universal a half-billion from the domestic side alone, and with Universal seemingly constantly struggling, giving up this jewel wasn't an option. Former Bourne director Paul Greengrass was definitely out, calling any fourth film in the series The Bourne Redundancy, an apt title from this perspective. Damon didn't want to work with Gilroy; hence, we saw Renner brought in.
Renner is either a really smart guy, or he has a fantastic agent. After his major debut film got lucky with a Best Picture Oscar for The Hurt Locker (against Up, District 9 and Inglourious Basterds – all of which were much better films), Renner appeared in Ben Affleck's The Town as a supporting actor, had a cameo in Thor, moved on to Mission: Impossible (again supporting a bigger star in Tom Cruise), then got the gift of being in The Avengers, supporting all the real stars. Even The Bourne Legacy is a crutch for Renner, as he shows up as the lead in a franchise that he didn't create. Next up for Renner should be Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters in January, another role with that "known" feel to it.
Finishing second is a true star-driven comedy, and I am not talking about Hope Springs. The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis is the runner-up at the box office this weekend, and is something I cherish at the box office in August. The Campaign is a new idea, well-played. With the election season heating up, The Campaign is perfectly timed and executed well. Audiences caught on and the comedy opened to a strong $27.4 million this weekend. Released to 3,205 venues by Warner Bros., The Campaign had a location average of $8,562. Directed by Jay Roach of Meet the Parents/Fockers and Austin Powers fame, The Campaign earned a 67% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, finishing with a better score than The Bourne Legacy (53% fresh).
The Campaign has already out-grossed Ferrell's last movie, Casa de mi Padre, at $5.9 million, but that movie never saw a release beyond 500 venues. This one appears to be behaving more like Ferrell's The Other Guys, which opened to $35 million in August pf 2010 and went on to earn $120 million stateside. The Campaign again proves that Ferrell is much better at the box office when paired with a decent co-star, like Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys, John C. Reilly in Stepbrothers ($31 million opening, $100 million domestic gross), and Jon Heder in Blades of Glory ($33 million opening, $115 million domestic finish). For Galifianakis, his star only continues to grow. The Hangovers have grossed a combined $532 million domestically, and Due Date also earned over $100 million.
Dropping to third is The Dark Knight Rises, which continues to carry the mark of the Aurora shootings 24 days ago. After the strong but sullied opening of $160 million, to the big second weekend dip at $62 million, to last weekend's recovery to $35.7 million, The Dark Knight Rises has been analyzed to death. This weekend, the latest Batman film earned $19.5 million, and dropped 45%. Comparatively, The Dark Knight, that film earned $26.1 million in its fourth weekend, a 39% decline from its third weekend of $42.7 million. By this point, the second film in the franchise had earned $441.6 million. The Dark Knight Rises has much lower domestic total of $390.1 million. The worldwide total has now eclipsed three-quarters of a billion, so it is seeing a large amount of success despite the tragedy.