SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Wild Things,’ you make everything…groovy

Posted by · 1:59 pm · October 18th, 2009

Where the Wild Things AreWell, it was maybe the most anticipated PG-rated film amongst the young adult set since “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” and “Where the Wild Things Are” landed with a bang this weekend. The Spike Jonze adaptation grossed $32.5 million to top the box office and justify all the bickering and problems during production between director and studio.

Warner Bros. is having quite a year with unique directors tackling projects and possibly turning in a different movie than the studio was expecting (“Observe and Report” and “The Informant!” also come to mind), but it’s hard to imagine the film doing this well without a name like Jonze behind it. Kids made up only half of the audience and the broad appeal amongst all age groups should help with staying power over the next few weeks, even though reaction seems to be slightly mixed to positive.

“Law Abiding Citizen” took the runner-up spot in a bit of a surprise. The action/thriller grossed a strong $21.3 million, which would have been enough to top the chart on this same weekend last year. That’s a new high mark for Overture Films and another feather in Gerard Butler’s 2009 cap after “The Ugly Truth.” He may not be headed to an Oscar anytime soon but he has to be commended for turning the freak box office performance of “300” into bona fide movie stardom.

“Paranormal Activity” continues to gross paranormal numbers with another $20.2 million this weekend from 760 theaters. It’s not quite at the pace that “The Blair Witch Project” was at when it expanded but with a 2,000+ theater roll-out planned for next weekend and Halloween fast approaching, this no budget exercise should be knocking on the door of $100 million when all is said and done. Flabbergasting.

The box office was so scorching this weekend that there was even room for “The Stepfather” to gross a solid $12.3 million. When your biggest star is Dylan Walsh and you’re competing against the biggest horror phenomenon in a decade and you can still pull in double digits, it’s officially time to give the Sony marketing department a big fat raise. I mean, the poster was a pair of hands holding a tie and they can double the business of “Jennifer’s Body.”

“Couples Retreat” fell the standard 48%, which could have been worse if there was another comedy option for couples out there, while “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” slipped past the $100 million mark, a first for Sony animation. In limited release, “A Serious Man” and “An Education” continued to prove their awards credentials with solid holds in limited expansions.

This week, I dropped $11 for “Good Hair,” which failed to meet my already modest expectations and spent a much wiser $6 on “35 Shots of Rum,” which didn’t excite me as much as it did Guy, but I definitely admired it in a lot of ways. I also joined the rest of the hipsters at the Thursday midnight showing of “Where the Wild Things Are,” which I thought had minor pacing issues and a general over-reliance on score, but otherwise hit all the right marks.

Next week gives us “Astro Boy,” which apparently some people have a nostalgic attachment to. Looks totally generic to me but it’s a kids movie and the box office is hot right now so I’ll give it $15 million.

There’s also another “Saw” movie, which is the sixth in six years and is somehow always good for close to $30 million. The “Paranormal Activity” expansion has to hurt, as does the fact that at some point audiences surely have to realize that there is literally no point to seeing any more movies in this series. Why not now? I’m gonna say $25 million for this one.

Universal’s got “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” and it looks disastrous. Everything about it seems completely lazy and if it makes more than $6 million, I’ll be very surprised.

Finally, we get a long awaited look at “Amelia,” which Fox Searchlight has targeted for 800 screens. The lack of festival presence for this film is puzzling and it will be landing with a distinct lack of buzz outside of the NY/LA circles. I think $5 million is where it’s headed and then reviews will dictate where it goes from there.

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

Weekend of Friday, October 16, 2009

→ 13 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

13 responses so far

  • 1 10-18-2009 at 2:17 pm

    j said...

    Huh, I thought Wild would’ve gotten to a 10k avg since, well, Couples Retreat just did…39 times a film has gotten 10k avg/1+ mil weekends of 42 weekends.

    Paranormal Activity looks like the big underdog stories of the year. Hangover was also very surprising and will probably make more $ altogether, but the budget was a few thousand times larger. I think Blair Witch may even have gotten less dollars for each dollar put into it, but not sure.

  • 2 10-18-2009 at 3:01 pm

    Ryan said...

    Someone is going to get a lot of money from Paranormal Activity. Good for them. I wonder how it will rank among the biggest profit makers when it is all said and done.

  • 3 10-18-2009 at 3:03 pm

    Speaking English said...

    What make someone a hipster, and why is “Wild Things” classified as such a film? I really do not get this.

  • 4 10-18-2009 at 3:20 pm

    James D. said...

    Spike Jonze, Karen O, and Paul Dano are what classify it as hipster.

  • 5 10-18-2009 at 3:40 pm

    Fitz said...

    Is Where the Wild Things Are ever going to be on the Best Pic board?

    It has to be better than Nine, or A Single Man.

  • 6 10-18-2009 at 4:04 pm

    Michael said...

    Where the Wild Things Are will not be in serious consideration for best picture. I have not seen Nine or A Single Man so I don’t know if they are better than WTWTA, but they have a much better chance of being nominated.

    I liked WTWTA, but I was expecting to love it, and had been regarding it for the past year or so as a bona fide classic without having seen it. I won’t say I was disappointed, but I will say that I won’t be ranking it amongst my favorites of all time (or of this year even). I think in general that is what most people are beginning to realize for it. And I would be really shocked if it made $100 mil domestically.

  • 7 10-18-2009 at 4:18 pm

    Speaking English said...

    “Spike Jonze, Karen O, and Paul Dano are what classify it as hipster.”



  • 8 10-18-2009 at 5:03 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fitz: No. A Single Man will be coming off this week, though.

  • 9 10-18-2009 at 5:24 pm

    James D. said...

    Because twentysomethings listen to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and love indie film, which Jonze and Dano are a part of.

    Being 21, I can’t think of a film that was more exciting to so-called hipsters then this was. It was definitely a calling to the college coffee shop crowd.

  • 10 10-18-2009 at 6:12 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    Urban Outfitters was advertising the movie on its windows…’nuff said.

  • 11 10-18-2009 at 7:15 pm

    greg said...

    Did anyone look around at the audiences when watching this film? the hipsters are not the ones who brought the money in the film. My showing had all different types of people, age wise, personality wise, etc… a full and divisive audience. The book is what brought everyone to the movie. And the reaction was all across the board (I loved it).

    This book is a touchstone for a large group of eclectic people, and everyone wanted to see how the book would translate to the screen- I saw large groups of families all coming to see this. that is what brought the audiences in, not the hipster cred.

  • 12 10-18-2009 at 8:03 pm

    j said...

    Hmm, if Single Man leaves, I’d prefer Bright Star to Avatar. Or, dog forbid, Amelia.

  • 13 10-18-2009 at 8:11 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Twentysomethings not only grew up with the book, but also with a decade of fantasy films revolving around the extensive use of puppets from the Jim Henson lab and that led to a lot of excitement in that demographic too.