SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Cloudy’ clears up box office

Posted by · 11:12 am · September 21st, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs(EDITOR’S NOTE: My fault on the belated nature of Chad’s column.  Back on track next week.)

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

It had been almost two months since a PG-rated film hit the marketplace and parents were desperate for something to take their kids to. The result is “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” topping the chart with $30.1 million and the seventh-biggest September debut of all time.

It also tops the $25.9 million of “Open Season” to become the biggest animated debut ever for Sony, which is not really considered a major player in that arena. The real money here should be in fast food tie-ins, though. Why haven’t I seen a correlative toy in my happy meal? Somebody dropped the (meat)ball there.

A distant second place is where “The Informant!” landed with a $10.5 million gross. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 2009 is the year of the mustache and the proof is in the pudding. Anyway, this performance is more or less identical to the $10.8 million debut of “Michael Clayton” and I see no reason why this can’t perform with similar legs, reaching $40-$50 million total. That’s plenty enough to buy Matt Damon some Slim-Fast shakes and keep him on the lips of Oscar voters come January.

Tyler Perry Presents Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Tyler Perry’s Self Starring Tyler Perry dropped a par-for-the-Tyler-Perry-course 57% and now we just wait three or four months until the next Tyler Perry movie opens. Tyler Perry.

Universal tried to bury “Love Happens” with a minuscule 1,898 screen count and minimal advertising, but somehow it managed to do okay and pull in $8.5 million. That’s not as good as the $13.4 million that “Nights in Rodanthe” raked in last September but that film was on 1,000 more screens and had popular source material to help lure in the housewives. I’m sure this film is extremely boring but if it gets Judy Greer more work then it’s fine by me.

Fifth place is where you find the big disappointment of the week in “Jennifer’s Body.”  Fox has failed time and again this year at courting the teenage and young adult crowd and this is yet another example. $6.8 million is frankly, pathetic and less than the debuts of “The Covenant” and “Cursed.”  Do you even remember those movies? I didn’t think so. “Jonah Hex” may delay the inevitable but the game is almost over for Megan Fox.

“9” and “Sorority Row” both dropped around 50% while “Whiteout” dipped out of the top 10 altogether as the revolving door nature of September box office plays out in full effect. The only other noteworthy events happened in limited release where Apparition made its big debut on the scene with “Bright Star.”

The potential Oscar bigwig debuted with a modest $10,000 per each of its 19 screens. This result isn’t going to blow up anybody’s skirt in the box office world and unless something miraculous happens as it expands, a total under $2 million is about all it can hope for. All six of Jane Campion’s previous films had higher per-theater averages in their limited debuts and it may be best to keep the film marked in pencil on your Oscar ballots.

This week I ventured out to spend $9 on “Still Walking,” which was money well spent. If you have the chance to see Hirokazu Koreeda’s beautiful family drama, do yourself the favor.

Next week gives us “Fame” from MGM, which hasn’t released a film since “Valkyrie.”  Dance films always do way better than they should but this one feels a little off. Maybe it’s all the rust at the MGM marketing department, but I’m seeing $15 million or maybe a little less for this.

Disney couldn’t decide if it wanted bald Bruce Willis or hairpiece Bruce Willis, so we’re getting both in “Surrogates.” The market could use a dumb action movie and Jonathan Mostow knows how to deliver cheap thrills so this could be a potential chart-topper with $18 million or so.

Finally, Overture tries its luck with sci-fi/horror and “Pandorum.”  The marketing has been great from trailers to posters, but with no real star power and an unsettling tone, it’ll be a tough sell. I’m saying $8 million and anything in double digits would be a big win.

What do you guys think?  Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, September 18, 2009

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

15 responses so far

  • 1 9-21-2009 at 12:46 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    fairwell bright star???? :), and kris or guy do you really think by the end of the year matt damons performance will be one of the 5 best?

  • 2 9-21-2009 at 12:47 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Who knows? It’s certainly the actor’s best, and I think that’s saying something. People have fun with this film and performance, so I think it’s on pretty steady ground.

  • 3 9-21-2009 at 2:05 pm

    M said...

    No surprise Jennifer’s body did poorly. Megan Fox cannot act! Amanda Seyfried picked a poor movie to be apart of.

  • 4 9-21-2009 at 7:31 pm

    James The Greatest said...

    With all of the critical kudos (and, now, box office receipts), isn’t it safe to say “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” has a better shot in Animated Feature than “Ponyo” (which was arguably Miyazaki’s least impressive film since the category started)? Wow, that was quite the run-on.

  • 5 9-21-2009 at 8:24 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I don’t know about Kris but I don’t think Ponyo has a chance at even a nomination.

  • 6 9-21-2009 at 8:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Too much respect for Miyazaki. Animators love the movie. On the bubble, but definitely a chance.

  • 7 9-21-2009 at 9:32 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I feel like they know they’re supposed to respect Miyazaki and they gave him his Oscar, but really they prefer 3D meatballs like everyone else.

  • 8 9-21-2009 at 9:56 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    You don’t know too many animators, do you? I haven’t seen Cloudy, but I actually hear it’s a lot of fun, so…maybe.

  • 9 9-21-2009 at 10:05 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Actually, I was engaged to one, but you’re right. I’m referring to the whole Academy who wouldn’t decide on the nominations so I guess it could get in.

  • 10 9-21-2009 at 10:16 pm

    James The Greatest said...

    It is true that most of the Academy animators do love hand-drawn work over CGI, but I’d wager the visuals, storytelling, and humor of ‘Cloudy’ will trump ‘Ponyo’. Be sure to let us know what you think when you catch it, Kris. :)

    If there were enough animated films this year to allow five nominees, I’d say ‘Ponyo’ would be in the mix. Alas, I think it’s going to be shut-out. (That dreadful Disney-fied song that ran over the end credits should be enough to keep it out!)

  • 11 9-21-2009 at 10:43 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    She was an animator? The things we learn.

  • 12 9-22-2009 at 2:29 am

    Finwë said...

    No mention of Basterds becoming Tarantino’s highest-grosser unadjusted? I say that’s a milestone.

    And Ponyo is a masterpiece. Meatballs looks embarrassing (no I have not, nor will I, see it).

  • 13 9-22-2009 at 11:21 am

    j said...

    I don’t think Cloudy is that kudo-y. Not a single critic on MC gives it at least a B+. One D, though.

  • 14 9-22-2009 at 11:44 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I use adjusted figures. If you want to read about unadjusted feats, there’s every other box office report. To me, Inglourious has a long way to go to reach the popularity or success of Fiction.

  • 15 9-26-2009 at 2:54 pm

    Joel said...

    “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” is a spectacular movie. I hope it gets a third spot in the Oscars, along with “Up” and “Coraline.” That is, if “A Christmas Carol” and “The Princess and the Frog” are somehow not better.