Thanks to weak competition, Russell's Western remake, ''3:10 to Yuma,'' was the last film standing in the weekend's box office shootout

By Joshua Rich
September 10, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Despite all the gunfire and R-rated blood and guts that splashed across multiplex screens this weekend, the fall movie season started off with a whimper rather than a bang.

According to Sunday’s estimates, 3:10 to Yuma (No. 1), Russell Crowe and Christian Bale’s remake of the 1957 Western, led the way with a $14.1 million gross. Here’s where I usually expound on that number, detailing all the records it might have broken and historical implications it represents, but, honestly, there’s just not much to talk about. That $14.1 mil total is neither good nor bad, neither impressive nor unimpressive. It’s just … fine. It’s decent. It’s okay. The most profound thing I can say about it is that it’s a shade better than Open Range‘s $14 mil bow in 2003 (though, actually, keep an eye out for Monday’s final numbers to see if that fact indeed holds). Oh, and 3:10 to Yuma has already earned more than both of the lead actors’ last movies combined (A Good Year and Rescue Dawn banked $12.9 mil in sum). But, really, that says more about Crowe and Bale’s previous releases than it does about this one.

Yep, it’s safe to say that with stronger competition 3:10 to Yuma wouldn’t have trotted away a winner. Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake dropped a violent 62 percent but still finished in second place, with $10 mil. It’s two-week total is $44.2 mil. Superbad (No. 3) earned $8 mil and crossed the $100 mil mark on its fourth weekend (it’s the 20th movie of 2007 to do so). Balls of Fury snuck into fourth position with a 50 percent decline and another unimpressive score: just $5.7 mil in 3,081 theaters (that’s a pathetic $1,848 average, math geeks). And The Bourne Ultimatum lived on at No. 5 with a $5.5 mil gross.

Sure enough, you have to go all the way down, outside of the top five, to find the weekend’s other openers. Shoot ‘Em Up (No. 6) might have been better titled Dead on Arrival, because that’s what it was, with a $5.5 mil debut. And The Brothers Solomon fared even worse, averaging just $750 in 700 venues, a pathetic total of only $525,000.

A handful of smaller premieres played well, however. The documentary In the Shadow of the Moon (in four theaters), the Bosnian war drama The Hunting Party (in four theaters), the family tale Fierce People (in two theaters), and Jeff Garlin’s romantic comedy I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With (in one theater) all averaged more than $10,000. Actually, when you add those reports to the fact that this weekend’s combined box office was up nearly 16 percent from a similarly slow frame a year ago — well, okay, I concede, maybe there was a little bit of good news after all.

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