SUNDAY CENTS: Apocalypse wow

Posted by · 10:25 am · November 15th, 2009

2012*All historical figures are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Roland Emmerich’s still got it. And by “it,” I mean the ability to make blockbuster hits out of the same movie again and again.

“2012” opened at the top of the box office with $65 million and the seventh-biggest opening of 2009. It’s also the 10th-biggest November opening of all time, sliding in between last year’s “Quantum of Solace” and 2002’s surprise juggernaut “8 Mile.”

Mid-November releases have the benefit of the highly lucrative Thanksgiving holiday coming somewhere around their second or third week, so “2012” has the chance to earn three times its opening, which certainly wouldn’t be the case in the summer. I actually don’t think it will be the case here either and I think we’ll see it top out around $150 million. While that figure is less than the production budget, the film has already made $225 million worldwide after just three days, so Emmerich has free reign to make whatever disaster movie he wants next.

Destroying the Earth four times is probably the limit for any director but luckily for Emmerich, we just discovered water on the moon, so he can go ahead and make a movie where we’ve colonized it and are living there, but for whatever reason it gets destroyed.

“A Christmas Carol” stuck to the script by dropping a slim 26% and sets itself up for a solid run through the next six weeks. With this and “Beowulf” under his belt, it seems Zemeckis is slowly mo-capping his way through my 10th grade honors English syllabus. I think we can expect a 3D version of “A Doll’s House” sometime in 2011.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” wasn’t quite so lucky and dipped 51% to $6.2 million. Clooney may be the biggest star in the world but he hasn’t made a truly popular movie without “Ocean’s” in the title since “The Perfect Storm” in 2000. Is “Up in the Air” the film to break his $100 million duck?

Lionsgate’s “Precious” added 156 screens and earned a whopping $6.1 million to take fourth place. It’s not quite as impressive as the $7.9 million that “Paranormal Activity” made on 160 screens five weeks ago, but it’s still a jaw-dropping figure. This was no one week, metropolitan wonder, and there’s no better currency in the awards game than this kind of crossover success.

“The Fourth Kind” and “The Box” each fell around 60%, which is par for the course with this genre that surely produces more forgettable titles than any other.

“Pirate Radio” earned a decent $2.9 million from 882 screens but it wasn’t good enough for the top 10 so don’t expect Focus to do anything but let it slowly slip out of theaters.

In limited release, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” lived up to its title by grossing $260,000 on four screens, while “The Messenger” earned a very respectable $50,000 on the same amount. The former will expand significantly, while the latter will take it slower, but each remains a box office winner and awards prospects look good for now at least.

I did some catching up viewing this week and plopped down $7 for “Coco Before Chanel” and $10 for “An Education.” I thought the former started strong but got significantly less interesting as it went along. Fine supporting performance from Benoit Poelvoorde though.  The latter, meanwhile, has a couple of stand-out moments but ultimately didn’t do much for me either. Most of the things worth learning in this education were reduced to montages and the entire last 15 minutes were characters explaining all the valuable lessons they learned during the previous hour and a half. Not how I like my flicks. Mulligan is obviously great but where’s the love for Rosamund Pike? She was genius.

Were you in the masses for “2012?” What did you see this weekend?  Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, November 13, 2009

→ 33 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

33 responses so far

  • 1 11-15-2009 at 10:44 am

    Joel said...

    I’m headed to see “2012” in about fifteen minutes, but I was lucky to have caught “Precious” on Friday and it absolutely floored me. I don’t think I’ve seen a better movie this year. Mo’Nique has her Oscar in the bag.

  • 2 11-15-2009 at 10:58 am

    James D. said...

    I saw A Serious Man. Must say, a bit underwhelmed.

  • 3 11-15-2009 at 10:59 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    You’ve come to the right place James D. I didn’t think much of it at all.

  • 4 11-15-2009 at 11:05 am

    James D. said...

    I liked it and found it funny in spots, but I didn’t think it was the profound masterpiece that so many people have said. Maybe I need to be a Jew?

  • 5 11-15-2009 at 11:12 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I’m so glad more people are joining the Rosamund Pike train. Might just be the smartest supporting actress performance I’ve seen all year.

  • 6 11-15-2009 at 11:14 am

    Andrew R. said...

    I kinda agree about An Education. I was probably overhyped about it but I didn’t like the ending especially and I wish the Paris scene had been more than a montage. Carey Mulligan is wonderful though, and i’m surprised there hasn’t been more love for Olivia Williams.

  • 7 11-15-2009 at 11:35 am

    Marshall said...

    I loved Rosamund Pike! A brilliant performance … she stole the screen when she had it!

  • 8 11-15-2009 at 11:58 am

    Maxim said...

    “Clooney may be the biggest star in the world”

    I laughed at the misguided silliness of that statement. He is not even in the top 25. He is nowhere near being the biggest stat in US and most other countries have their own talent with 100 times the appeal.

  • 9 11-15-2009 at 12:01 pm

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    I saw “The Box” this weekend. I know that many people will hate it, and I know that it will not get good reviews. But I thought it was great! As a huge fan of “Donnie Darko”, I have an appreciation for Richard Kelly’s brand of cerebral, metaphysical sci-fi. As confusing and perhaps implausible as it is, it is an utterly engrossing and entertaining film.

  • 10 11-15-2009 at 12:02 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    “Precious” has one great performance and two good scenes. Meh. It’s terribly over-directed.

    “An Education” is fabulous outside of the last five minutes. Sarsgaard, Molina and Mulligan all fanstatic — I’ll take a pass on Rosamund Pike, can’t stand her, she looks like a pug.

  • 11 11-15-2009 at 12:06 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Maxim- It may have been hyperbole to call him the biggest star in the world but I would like to hear you name 25 that you think are bigger.

  • 12 11-15-2009 at 12:27 pm

    JJ said...

    ‘A Serious Man’ – with each passing day I like it more & more.

    ‘An Education’ – I don’t quite see what everyone’s going so crazy about Rosamund Pike for. Loved Mulligan, Saarsgard & Cooper. Molina was good.

    Looking forward to ‘Precious’ tomorrow. Yay!

    And can I say – Kris, you’re 28!? Happy Birthday!

    I’m 29, and from your podcasts you sound much older/wiser. Sad times that I’m actually older. I hate finding out people are younger than me, haha. I stil feel like I’m 18.

  • 13 11-15-2009 at 12:34 pm

    tony rock said...

    Precious was good but not great. Great performances and script, mediocre direction. In the end I don’t think I’ll be rooting for it to win the big one.

  • 14 11-15-2009 at 12:50 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    I actually found Paula Patton dreadful in “Precious”.

  • 15 11-15-2009 at 1:11 pm

    entertainmenttoday.. said...

    I thought 2012 was one hell of an entertainment.
    I know when a crowd is into a movie and the audience I saw it with was big time into it. I don’t get why some people dig at this type of film. As event movies go its one of the BEST Ive seen in a decade.


  • 16 11-15-2009 at 1:42 pm

    mark said...

    Any1 else feel its not happening for an education at all neither in the usa or uk.

  • 17 11-15-2009 at 1:47 pm

    Harmonica said...

    Ummm…actually, it’s the seventh biggest November opening of all-time. Between Quantum of Solace and Madagascar 2. Eminem’s movie, 8 Mile, is 12th between November openings.

  • 18 11-15-2009 at 2:39 pm

    JJ said...

    Mark, yes, a little bit.

  • 19 11-15-2009 at 3:07 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Don’t care for “An Education” either. Mediocre epitomized. Hope it fades away and only comes up with nominations for Mulligan and Molina. And somehow I don’t think this is all that implausible, as its buzz seems to be dropping by the day.

  • 20 11-15-2009 at 3:11 pm

    geha714 said...

    Where’s the love for Rosamund Pike?

    Amen, brother! I wonder that too…

  • 21 11-15-2009 at 3:29 pm

    Joel said...

    All right, just got back from “2012” and I LOVED THE HECK OUT OF IT. Yes, it’s extremely corny, who cares? That’s part of the fun, which has for me only been equaled by “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (which is mildly better, imo). But the action was astronomically insane, and dammit, Chiwetel Ejiofor and John Cusack sold their performances. A all the way.

  • 22 11-15-2009 at 3:49 pm

    McGuff said...

    I saw Precious this weekend, and I agree with the comment about mediocre direction. Like I felt with Rachel Getting Married last year, I thought the ego of the director clearly got in the way of a compelling story. I was taken out of the story on numerous occasions, and much of Lee Daniels choices seemed contrived.

    The movie is somewhat salvaged for me by its fantastic acting, and the inherent pathos surrounding Precious. It’s not a bad movie, by any sense, but it’s a movie where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which I don’t think should equal Best Picture.

    But I’m 25 movies in now for the year, and nothing recently has been able to crack the top five (in order): A Serious Man, Star Trek, Moon, The Hurt Locker and The Hangover. Weird list, I know.

  • 23 11-15-2009 at 3:56 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “(I)t’s a movie where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which I don’t think should equal Best Picture.”

    Given your preceding criticisms, don’t you mean “less than the sum of its parts,” McGuff? Or am I misreading?

    I know quite a few people who’d approve of your Top 5, actually.

  • 24 11-15-2009 at 4:19 pm

    McGuff said...

    Guy, you are reading correctly, I botched that one. You have a partner in crime in seeing the movies’ flaws, but unfortunately, I just can’t write it very succinctly. Cheers.

  • 25 11-15-2009 at 5:19 pm

    Mad Max said...

    “Clooney may be the biggest star in the world”

    If by Clooney, you mean Will Smith, then we’re in complete agreement.

    I saw Precious this weekend and I haven’t been so satisfied to fork over my hard earned $14 in a long, long time. Excellent performances all around.

  • 26 11-15-2009 at 6:20 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    I just have to post this, from Hollywood Reporter’s box office report:

    “2012’s top five markets over the weekend were France ($17.2 million from 750 screens), Russia ($15.3 million from 840 locations), Germany (12.4 million from 1,002 situations), China ($12.3 million from 1,946 locales) and the U.K. ($10.8 million from 828 sites).”

    France has screens, Russia has locations, Germany has situations (?!!??), China has locales and the UK has sites.

    LOL. I know it’s bad to repeatedly use the same word to describe something, but come on! SITUATIONS?!

  • 27 11-15-2009 at 6:38 pm

    JJ said...

    That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen:


    What’s up with that?

  • 28 11-15-2009 at 7:54 pm

    Leocdc said...

    Great article!! I love the “apocalypse wow” title xD and the commentary about a possible new film of Roland Emmerich was totally hilarious!

  • 29 11-15-2009 at 8:28 pm

    Chris138 said...

    I got back from seeing Pirate Radio a little while ago. Probably one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had so far this year at the movies, I enjoyed it much more than I ever expected to.

  • 30 11-16-2009 at 6:48 am

    Alex said...

    Am I the only person who thinks Oliver Platt’s character was right in 2012 and everyone else was just being stupid?

    BTW the effects in 2012 were amazing. Mr Cameron could learn a thing or two from Roland Emmerich about letting the effects speak for themselves.

    And for my two cents on the rest:

    My favorite film this year so far is definitely A Serious Man. It has quite a light quality to it (the Coen’s are clearly having fun inflicting misery on their creation), but it turns out to be very serious and quite profound. It is truly a modern classic.

    Precious – great performances and touching on a superficial level but when you think about it for a few minutes, you realize how hollow and manipulative it really is.

  • 31 11-16-2009 at 6:59 am

    Mike_M said...

    Clooney is up their star wise but I think Pitt is probably the number one star in the world.

  • 32 11-16-2009 at 7:05 am

    Joel said...

    I’m with Mike_M on this one. I can’t think of any actor with bigger star power than Pitt. I mean, I would say that the top three are Pitt, Clooney, and Depp. Possibly Damon, but I dunno.

  • 33 11-16-2009 at 7:48 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Nic Cage…

    Pitt and Clooney are hotter, but they’re not really bigger than those guys. The numbers bear that out. Streep, Jolie and Bullock are almost as big as Clooney.