Weekend Wrap-Up for March 16-18, 2007

By David Mumpower

March 18, 2007

I've been watching Nip/Tuck. You are having sex with a lot of women who aren't me.

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The second most successful new opener is Dead Silence, the latest disposable horror film to come down the pike. This project from Universal earned an estimated $7.8 million from 1,803 venues, a per-exhibition average of $4,326. This slasher flick had a pedigree in that Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell were the masterminds behind the project. Their names in the advertising didn't hurt any, but in the end, there was not enough about the premise of evil dolls to make it stand out in a heavily saturated genre. As is almost always the case with body count horror movies these days, reviews were unkind. At least, those who made the effort to see the movie on opening day felt so. Universal didn't bother with early screenings for critics, accepting that their fate was already sealed in this regard. With lackluster box office and little by way of critical of populist buzz to drive it to further heights, any notoriety Dead Silence will earn has to come from ancillary markets, particularly cable programming and DVD sales.

Chris Rock surprised box office analysts with a show of strength in February of 2001 when his romantic comedy, Down to Earth, earned $20 million in its opening weekend. Since then, the comedian has had huge disappointments such as Bad Company and Osmosis Jones, but has never managed to duplicate the success of his biggest star vehicle. The release of I Think I Love My Wife was a blatant attempt to make lightning strike twice, but alas, it was not to be. The fifth place movie earned only $5.7 million with critics disliking it to the tune of a 22% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The small number of exhibitions (1,776) and lousy reviews led to an unpleasant per-venue average of $3,215 for Fox Searchlight. Given that the comedian's wonderful weekly sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris (please watch it, I'm begging you), has an average audience of roughly 1.8 million and that the average ticket costs $6.55, less than half of his fan-base made the effort this weekend. I blame The CW for being too low profile for the marketing campaign to boost awareness. In fact, I always blame The CW for any showing of incompetence in Hollywood, whether it's TV-related or not.

Continuing the theme of huge surprise successes is Bridge to Terabithia. The Disney family film's fifth weekend of release brings a sixth place finish as well as an estimated $5.1 million. That's a decline of 24% from last frame. The current box office of $75 million makes it the third of five films in the top ten to have already earned that amount or more. Having this level of success after only 11 weekends in 2007 is a box office feat bordering on the historically unprecedented. Winter is the new summer.


Continuing the theme of huge early year blockbusters is the weekend's seventh place finisher, Ghost Rider. The Nicolas Cage flaming biker flick had been the number one film of the year until Saturday. Its diminishing return of $4 million, a decline of 40%, means that it's running out of box office steam at its current total of $110.2 million. With Wild Hogs right on its tail, the Sony comic book adaptation will likely to fall to third for the year by this time next week. What's odd is that while Ghost Rider is the second biggest movie of the year right now, it's only the second biggest comic book adaptation of the year. 300 has stolen its thunder in every way imaginable.

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