Gotta give some propers right off the top today: Bravo to everybody in movie land for a super-strong weekend at the box office. Overall grosses of $110 million were up a whopping 25 percent from the same period last year (according to you-know-who), making this the third straight ”up” weekend of the fall. Leading the way was the horror remake sequel The Grudge 2, which scared up $22 mil in its debut. That?s a solid number for sure, though it?s far less than the $39.1 mil its American predecessor grossed two years ago ? and (ouch!) well below my $35 mil prediction.
Indeed, it was a bittersweet weekend for me. While I saw TG2 taking top prize, in general my box-office forecast was pretty far off for the first time in over a month. But that’s not all: I’ll admit that I?m also stinging a bit after Michigan?s big victory last night over Penn State. The Wolverines? annual beat-down on the Nittany Lions is always a slightly tough one for me to digest because, as much as I want to see my guys win, I just love Joe Paterno. Make no mistake, anybody who doesn?t adore JoePa has no heart. It?s as simple as that. Hating JoePa is like stomping on dandelions. I mean, at this point, I wish the old guy would just retire so that I don?t have to feel so guilty every time we go into Happy Valley and take names. Ah, well, I?ll get over this icky feeling ? being bumped past woeful USC to No. 2 in the AP poll certainly helps, baby!
The Departed finished a strong second with $18.7 mil, an impressively moderate 31 percent drop from its opening weekend. I think it?s now safe to call Martin Scorsese?s crime thriller the fall?s first big breakout. The DiCaprio-Damon-Nicholson vehicle has earned $56.6 mil in two weeks, and at this rate looks it well on its way to passing the $100 mil mark and becoming the director?s biggest-ever box office hit. Add that to its great reviews and you can bet we?ll be talking about The Departed come Oscar time.
The same can?t be said of Man of the Year (No. 3), which bowed with a sluggish $12.3 mil. Audiences gave the Robin Williams political satire a solid B+ CinemaScore, but critics hated it (check out that 39 of 100 score on Metacritic.com) and the half life of a film like this is never long. The talking-animal flick Open Season held strong at No. 4 with $11 mil in its third week; it has made $59.2 mil overall. And horror holdover Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning rounded out the top five with a $7.8 mil take on a steep 58 percent drop.
Moving down the list, The Marine (No. 6), a sort of Iraq War-era Rambo starring pro wrestler John Cena, got pinned with $7 mil, making it the latest movie featuring a WWE performer to struggle at the box office. As my brother astutely recongnizes, clearly audiences are holding out for a Hacksaw Jim Duggan feature film vehicle. Also, the religious fable One Night With the King (No. 9) was uncrowned with just $4.3 mil.
Among small-release fare, the unheralded period romance Sweet Land fared best, averaging $22,000 on two screens. But all other indies — including Warner Independent?s cursed Infamous, a.k.a. the other Truman Capote biopic, which averaged a pitiful $2,430 in 179 locations; Lionsgate?s acclaimed pedophile-priest documentary Deliver Us From Evil, which grossed just $16,000 in four theaters; and Terry Gilliam?s critically lambasted Tideland, which made just $8,350 on one screen — failed to make an impact. Like I said, clearly audiences are holding out for a Hacksaw Jim Duggan movie. I know I am.