SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Funny’ money

Posted by · 1:47 pm · August 2nd, 2009

Funny People*All historical figures are adjusted to today’s dollars.

It was no laughing matter at the box office this weekend as Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” opened at the top spot with a disappointing $23.4 million. Not only is that lower than both “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” but it’s also the lowest figure to top this particular summer weekend since “A Time to Kill” in 1996. Don’t forget that “Virgin” and “Knocked” cost $26 million and $30 million, respectively, while “Funny People” carries a price tag of $70 million.

Bottom line: this film didn’t perform like an Adam Sandler summer comedy at all. This is a guy who has opened six low-brow comedies in the summer months and had an average debut of $46.0 million. “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” opened with $38.5 million, for Pete’s sake. Even his notorious misfire “Little Nicky” opened to $21.4 million. So no matter how Universal wants to spin this, it’s not pretty. It dropped from Friday to Saturday, indicating that fanboy rush and word of mouth is not going to be great enough to keep it in theaters much longer than Labor Day.

I think a $65 million finish is the best-case scenario and Apatow has officially lost his “cancer subplot” and “two-hour-plus running time” privileges. And you can kiss those Best Original Screenplay chances goodbye.

“G-Force” fell 46% to third place and $17.1 million. The guinea pigs already have $66.5 million in the bank so go ahead and mark your calendars for “G-Force 2” in July 2011. And just to reiterate, no matter how bad or good you think “Funny People” is, it’s a filmmaker with a distinct voice trying something a little different and people soundly rejected it in favor of films like this.

“The Ugly Truth” dipped a more severe 53% to $13 million. It’ll likely top out at $70 million or so and will be the third straight hit for director Robert Luketic, who balances his lack of any artistic talent at all with an uncanny ability to deliver a profitable piece of forgettable trash. That streak will likely continue with next summer’s Ashton Kutcher/Katherine Heigl action-comedy “Killers.”

Fox’s sci-fi/family schlock “Aliens in the Attic” could only drum up $7.8 million and will soon join other Fox titles like “Baby’s Day Out” and “Dunston Checks In” on the DVD rack in a supermarket right next to the gumball machine.

In horror news, “Orphan” dropped a decent 44% for another $7.3 million, but Freestyle’s “The Collector” couldn’t even crack the top 10 as it missed the torture-porn boat by about three years. If you thought about maybe seeing this movie, do yourself a favor and rent the William Wyler classic of the same name instead. Terence Stamp was never better, or creepier.

“(500) Days of Summer” is still earning some serious bank as it slowly expands but “The Hurt Locker’ has seemingly already peaked. Despite doubling its theater count, it could only manage a 29% uptick in gross and came in at number 14. With not much gas left in the tank, Summit will have to decide whether to get it out on DVD before awards season or hold out for an end-of-the-year re-release.

Speaking of “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow’s war epic earned my proverbial $10 this week (I saw it for free). I thought it had a lot of excellent stuff but wasn’t quite the masterpiece many seem ready to label it. Anthony Mackie was far and away the best part for me.

Next week sees the long-awaited release of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” to theaters. Looking like the absolute worst piece of garbage since whatever the last movie Stephen Sommers made was, it will nevertheless top the box office and earn a lot of money. I want to say $40 million but others are going as high as $50 million.

Meryl Streep flexes her box office muscles with “Julie & Julia,” a film that will connect with older audiences in a way that “Funny People” couldn’t. I think a $23 million start and $100 million-plus finish is where this bad boy is going.

Finally, Universal release “A Perfect Getaway,” which you probably haven’t even heard of.  $5 or $6 million and another reason why Steve Zahn is box office poison.

Here are the weekend’s top domestic box office grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, July 31, 2009

→ 42 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Sunday Cents

42 responses so far

  • 1 8-02-2009 at 1:50 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    RE: Universal, people are so getting fired. I haven’t seen a film as poorly marketed as “Funny People” in a long time, and that just dovetails with a lot of the other missteps along the way from film-to-film. I don’t know what the hell happened over there recently, but it’s probably gonna get ugly.

  • 2 8-02-2009 at 2:11 pm

    j said...

    I think that, besides the mediocre reviews for Funny People that might have turned away people who like good movies, it didn’t seem very much like either a typical Sandler movie or a typical Apatow movie, so their fans didn’t come in.

    I’m glad Potter didn’t go down quite as much as people expected.

    I wonder if GI Joe will knock out Ugly Truth on the year’s bottom 5 list of films that got at least 1 mil.

    31st time in 31 weekends a film got 10k average & 1 mil. Movies w/multiple weeks: Up, Trek, Revolutionary, Torino, Summer.

  • 3 8-02-2009 at 2:11 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    So the box office guy is doing Oscar analysis now?

  • 4 8-02-2009 at 2:22 pm

    leocd said...

    I didn’t love The Hurt Locker either. I find it very well done with good performances and excelente cinematography, but no way the “BEST OF THE YEAR TIL TODAY” movie that critics are proclaiming all over the web.

    My TOP 3 of 2009
    Up 9/10
    Watchmen 9/10
    Harry Potter and the HBP 8/10

  • 5 8-02-2009 at 2:40 pm

    James D. said...

    Why would poor box office performance hurt a film’s Oscar chances? Didn’t the Reader make like twenty dollars?

  • 6 8-02-2009 at 2:43 pm

    El Rocho said...

    leocd: Watchmen had so much potential, and was littered with some brilliant scenes, but was a mundane mess of a movie. And the hype of it all was a big let-down, too.

  • 7 8-02-2009 at 2:47 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Burma: Is he wrong? And if my tenure on the net has taught us anything it’s that any douche can offer Oscar analysis.

  • 8 8-02-2009 at 2:52 pm

    j said...

    *Cough* Top 10 of the decade.

    And hmm, usually the pattern is uptick on Saturday, lower Sunday than on Friday. But Funny & Aliens both just went down twice.

    I’m hoping Potter edges out Up.

  • 9 8-02-2009 at 2:57 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I agree with you. For once. On “The Hurt Locker.”

    But you still need to lighten up. ;)

  • 10 8-02-2009 at 3:00 pm

    leocd said...

    I like watchmen most of all for the topics shown by it. That’s obviously for his origin, a masterwork of comic, that make it such an incredible work to see and to think.
    That’s why I love it, and also because I enjoy every single minute of his duration (more than 2:30 hours I think), for the music used on it and for the style that I feel it has.
    I know a lot of people don’t like it, but I love it and I’d see it whenever I could (not now anyway, I’ll come back to the University tomorrow)
    Greetings from Chile!!

  • 11 8-02-2009 at 3:02 pm

    Matt said...

    Come on Potter, hit 300 mill!

  • 12 8-02-2009 at 3:37 pm

    tim said...

    For the moment, The Hangover is now the third highest grossing movie of the year. It surpassed Star Trek this week. Crazy.

  • 13 8-02-2009 at 4:12 pm

    BobMcBob said...

    again with the negativity, Chad; I thought you’d at least be a little less vitriolic this time after I reprimanded you last week. I guess you’ll never learn your lesson, and you’ll continue to be as sarcastic as every other film blogger

  • 14 8-02-2009 at 4:14 pm

    El Rocho said...

    I’m not denything their were aspect of Watchmen that were well done. The opening scene, though, is worth buying it. And Jackie Earle’s character and acting were the best part of the film. Zack Snyder should not have directed it, though. And by the end, I found it unbelievably pedantic. I love the graphic novel it was based on and have noted the brilliance of it and all the ideas is makes/brings up, but the film did not do it justice at all, aside from some visual prowess. Snyder hit it 100% with ‘300’ but didn’t know what to do with such amazing material like Watchmen. Too bad. But, to each his own. No disrespect meant, leocd.

  • 15 8-02-2009 at 4:53 pm

    Ryan Hoffman said...

    Who is letting this guy write?
    What I think people fail to realize is “Funny People” isn’t really a comedy. Its a drama with comedic elements. It’s a hard movie to market and to get people to come out and commit 2 1/2 hours of their lives to. I bet they see big dvd rentals for this one.

  • 16 8-02-2009 at 5:07 pm

    Daniel said...

    Totally agree on the Hurt Locker. It’s one of those odd anomalies…. kinda like Slumdog last year.

    My top ten

    1. Up
    2. Whatever Works
    3. Two Lovers
    4. Tetro
    5. Sita Sings the Blues
    6. Tokyo Sonata
    7. Funny People
    8. (500) Days of Summer
    9. Adventureland
    10. Sin Nombre

  • 17 8-02-2009 at 5:29 pm

    McGuff said...

    I point this out only because it amuses me, but I’m not sure I’ve disagreed with a top 10 so much, as I do Daniel above, in a long time. I’ve seen 15 movies this year, and here’s where I’m at;

    1. the hurt locker
    2. star trek
    3. moon
    4. the hangover
    5. 500 days of summer
    6. public enemies
    7. away we go
    8. humpday
    9. bruno
    10. whatever works
    11. funny people
    12. up
    13. i love you, man
    14. tyson
    15. the girlfriend experience.

  • 18 8-02-2009 at 5:37 pm

    Beau said...

    Julie and Julia will break $30 mill opening weekend. Trust me. It’s going to be huge.

  • 19 8-02-2009 at 5:54 pm

    Daniel said...

    Woah. Only seeing 15 and the girlfriend experience was your least favorite? If I extend mine (I’ve seen 39) to 20…

    11. Tyson (Toback)
    12. Tokyo! (Gondry, Carax, Bong)
    13. The Girlfriend Experience (Soderbergh)
    14. Brüno (Charles)
    15. Moon (Jones)
    16. Away We Go (Mendes)
    17. The Hurt Locker (Bigelow)
    18. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Gervasi)
    19. Coraline (Selick )
    20. I Love You, Man (Hamburg)

    The quality takes a serious dip after The Girlfriend Experience, which I enjoyed quite a bit.

  • 20 8-02-2009 at 6:23 pm

    El Rocho said...

    Can’t put a top 10 together quite yet in correct rankage, but here’s the best films i’ve seen so far, in no particular order:

    The Hangover
    The Hurt Locker
    Public Enemies
    Star Trek
    Funny People

  • 21 8-02-2009 at 6:24 pm

    SHAAAARK said...

    I’m kind of disgusted at the critics for killing Funny People’s chances at anything. It’s a really good movie, both heartfelt and funny, with Adam Sandler’s best performance of his career. Sure, it won’t be on my top ten by the end of the year, but it deserves more than the resounding chorus of MEH it’s getting.

  • 22 8-02-2009 at 6:32 pm

    leocd said...

    El Rocho, I know that all opinion can diverge, and I respect yours too. I’ve seen so little movies this year for my universitary studies (and then little time to go to cinema) and the only movie that I see getting nominations and awards is UP (from my short list of what… 5-6 movies maximus).
    Also, i’m from Chile and movies come to my country later. Sometimes at the same time that EE.UU. but that’s minority of times.
    Anyway, blessings for you all, cinema fans!!
    I’d love to chat with people like you, but don’t know if I can put my mail here. Some answers about it??

  • 23 8-02-2009 at 6:32 pm

    El Rocho said...

    SHAAAARK, I completely agree with your statement. Well written and an astute observation.

  • 24 8-02-2009 at 7:00 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    James D. – Poor box office won’t affect a movie like The Hurt Locker but it will kill the chances of a movie like Funny People.

    Ryan Hoffman – I’m not sure how the bulk of your comment corresponds to your opening statement. Whether or not the film actually is a drama or comedy doesn’t make a comparison to Sandler’s more low-brow fare any less relevant. Those were the grosses that Universal would need to justify that budget and his salary.

  • 25 8-02-2009 at 7:23 pm

    BobMcBob said...

    oh, and Chad, I didn’t think “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” had a very good trailer either, but it’s got an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so you might actually be able to enjoy a summer action blockbuster for a change

  • 26 8-02-2009 at 8:34 pm

    Georgie said...

    Re: 86% on RT… I think G.I. Joe is really benefiting from the beauty of extremely low expectations. I will still see it, I just think because everyone is expecting it to be a disaster and transformers 2 already came out and experienced a critical walloping, it’ll do a lot better than people are projecting it.

    I saw The Hurt Locker, best movie I’ve seen this year other than Up. Hoping for Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, and Editing nominations at the very least. Very well done all around.

    Seeing (500) days of summer this week, and I’m excited.

  • 27 8-02-2009 at 8:59 pm

    KarlaT. said...

    Julie & Julia looks great!!!
    I bet its gonna make a lot of money

  • 28 8-02-2009 at 9:21 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    “The Hurt Locker” is a brilliant culmination of writer/director/actor working in complete harmony with great material. It’s a character study first, a soldiers-in-distress action film second.

    And Anthony Mackie is great, but it’s Jeremy Renner’s show.

  • 29 8-02-2009 at 10:47 pm

    ZiZo Abul Hawa said...

    My Top-10 so far:
    01 Up
    02 Coraline
    03 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
    04 Broken Embraces
    05 Star Trek
    06 Drag Me to Hell
    07 The Hangover
    08 Lemon Tree
    09 Monsters Vs. Aliens
    10 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

  • 30 8-02-2009 at 11:13 pm

    HELLO I AM COOL said...

    But this is a bigger opening than 40 Year Old Virgin and that went to 177 million.
    So I don’t see how this is “lower than the 40 Year Old Virgin”

  • 31 8-03-2009 at 12:22 am

    SHAAAARK said...

    This won’t have the legs of 40YOV. WoM is not that good. People came for funny Sandler, and got depressed, bitter, self-deprecating Sandler. Not that that isn’t funny, but that the average American has a rather juvenile sense of humor, like most of Sandler’s movies.

  • 32 8-03-2009 at 1:28 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “I thought you’d at least be a little less vitriolic this time after I reprimanded you last week.”

    Bob, you’re hilarious.

  • 33 8-03-2009 at 3:51 am

    Eunice said...

    I predict a $25-30 million opening for Julie and Julia. Never underestimate Streep’s box office power, now that she has new, younger fans after “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia!”

    @Bob: You crack me up. :)

  • 34 8-03-2009 at 5:35 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Well, frankly I’m not surprised. The trailer alone was retarded (Can Jonah Hill just peace out already?), the alleged disservice Apatow did his wife w/ an underwritten role, and the general fatigue of Seth Rogen in movies basically culminated in a predictable flop.

    I still might see it though….Just for Jason Schwartzman.

  • 35 8-03-2009 at 5:40 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Oh, and Chad, I wouldn’t call The Hurt Locker’s box office poor, considering it was on an indie budget and had the highest per-theater average its first (two?) weeks in release. It’s actually, like some have said, Slumdogian in some regard.

    Since this is all trendy now, my Top 5 so far (since I’ve only seen 11, it seems ridiculous to make a Top 10):

    1) The Hurt Locker
    2) (500) Days of Summer
    3) Star Trek
    4) Moon
    5) Away We Go

    I am about to watch In the Loop though, which could knock AWG out. I really like my Top 5 so far though.

  • 36 8-03-2009 at 6:25 am

    j said...

    Yeah, but Slumdog had its first consec 5 weeks w/10k+ average vs. Locker’s 3. And Slumdog had 5 weeks altogether w/both 10k average & 1 mil total, vs. Locker’s 0.

  • 37 8-03-2009 at 8:16 am

    The Other James D. said...


    Like I said, some regard.

    Although it’s feasible that THL could get an Oscar-time re-release. Maybe. We shall see.

  • 38 8-03-2009 at 9:35 am

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    james, actually “the Reader” has a good box office.

    -The Reader: $34,194,407
    -Milk: $31,841,299
    -Frost/Nixon: $18,622,031

  • 39 8-03-2009 at 9:58 am

    James D. said...

    Damn, now there is The Other James D. I thought putting the D. in would be enough. Do we settle this Western style?

    Xavi: I was being a bit tongue in cheek with that, but my point was that Slumdog was the only real box office success.

  • 40 8-03-2009 at 1:55 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Haha, a duel I fancy, but my gloves are at the dry cleaners and I have nothing to bitchslap you with.

    Do we blame our parents for this? Our grandparents?

    Is this Moon?

    Someone must be at fault here!

  • 41 8-03-2009 at 6:08 pm

    Mike said...

    I really hope that Julie and Julia makes at least 100 million (I think it will), and I’m really rooting for Meryl for Best Actress. I hope Harry Potter can make it to 300 million (it’ll be the first one to make it since the Philosopher’s Stone).

  • 42 8-07-2009 at 3:08 pm

    j said...

    Looks like GI Joe really is competing with Ugly Truth for bottom 5 of the year thus far. Currently 29 vs. Ugly’s 27; Transformers Two was 35.