“…and the numbers are always crackling.”
–Leonardo DiCaprio (Catch Me If You Can)

April 1st, 2012

Ah, April Fools. I’m beginning to suspect the day was named more for the merry pranksters that reveal themselves as un-funny dopes rather than any supposed victims of clever gags. The internet is each year rife with painful stunts that do occasionally yank out a smirk, but there’s something about an elaborate internet April 1st prank that just seems sad in direct proportion to the effort spent. Case in point, Google, who year-by-year comes up with clever gags and sell them with the utmost pinache, which comes across a bit like putting a ton of effort into building the coolest sandcastle right before high tide. Yes Gmail team, your castle is cute but this is the internet/beach. Shit’s gonna wash away in an hour and we’re all here for the tits anyway. That said, YouTube’s “old timey filter” prank from last year did make 9/11 footage a gas for the day…

If my extended holiday diatribe seems out of place, my apologies. As you’ll see, the box office didn’t offer much in the way of surprises this weekend.

1. The Hunger Games ($61 million)

[Total: $251 million | WW: $365m | Budget: $78m]

A strong (if not phenomenal) second weekend paired with strong weekday sales has taken this monster hit past the quarter-billion mark domestically. The drop-off is better than a Twilight flick, but now the records start thinning out and becoming “7th highest second weekend” and “fifth highest drop-off for a film featuring an article in the title,” shit like that. With spring break beginning tomorrow, I’d expect a strong string of weekdays which will help push this things past $300 by this time next weekend without breaking a sweat.

***

2. Wrath Of The Titans ($34 million)

[Total: $34 million | WW: $112m | Budget: $250m]

Wrath would have a better opening than its predecessor to best Hunger Games, but since that was never in the cards it was always shooting for number two. It at least did that, despite managing a mere half of the opening weekend of Clash. That said, take a closer look at that worldwide gross and you’ll see why WB will get the last laugh off of this particular greenlight. This is an easy sell overseas and will be a profitable VOD library title, even if the gods  really do die here.

To an extent I’m happy to go to bat for Wrath, as it’s a fun, solid, BIG flick that — aside from one shitty sequence with the minotaur — is a surprisingly well-shot and thematically consistent piece of spectacle. I found it much more exciting than my recent trip to Barsoom, and by virtue of diminished expectations I found it to be a much less frustrating experience than Hunger Games. It’s video game cinema, sure, but Liebesmann is putting more thought into his action than he gets credit for. I think he’s going to hit the right material and impress everyone sooner rather than later.

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3. Mirror Mirror ($19 million)

[Total: $19 million | WW: $31m | Budget: $85m]

This is definitely not the kind of performance anyone was hoping for with this flick, but they were asking for trouble with this release date (and that garbage promotional effort). That said, they were largely cornered into it by Unviersal’s shifty maneuvering of their own Snow White flick, even if the two projects don’t resemble each other in the slightest. This should benefit during the week from Spring Breakers as well, but this will be good and out of the public consciousness by the time Theron shows up to take her turn as the mirror-chatting queen. That’s a shame, as word is that the spectacularly shitty ad campaign was short-selling a solid, clever film.

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4. 21 Jump Street ($15 million)

[Total: $93 million | WW: $115m | Budget: $42m]

Crossing nine-figures is the accomplishment and all the rest will be icing. I’d expect sequel movement soon soon soon.

***

5. Dr. Suess’ The Lorax ($8 million)

[Total: $190 million | WW: $277m | Budget: $70m]

This one is sure to make a nice final chunk of change in that asymptotic later-weeks part of a kid’s flick run, enough that it will cross $200 some time this week

Now they have to start figuring out how to seussquelize…

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Opening in a handful of theaters, controversy-turbine Bully managed a decent $115k. Whether Harvey’s extraordinary efforts to load the film with potential energy by way of its language-based ratings controversy will pay off or not are unclear, but ultimately I think most are just happy for any wider coverage of the MPAA being a rotten, shitty organization.

The thing is, the MPAA’s position here is one of absolute consistency that has been demonized as a truly heinous act, even if there’s nothing particular devious involved. You have to dig deep to find any examples of films that escaped an R rating while loaded with language and just last year Weinstein went on a similarly unsuccessful crusade with his Best Pic winner The King’s Speech. That said, even if the MPAA doesn’t have it out for Bully, that them following their own rules has them in direct conflict with the wider consensus and any sense of social constructive progress is enough of a bright signal that this organization is a pile of shit. If you start thinking too much about Harvey freedom fighting as much for his bottom-line as social good it gets sticky, but ultimately there’s a clear bad guy here. It’s the MPAA. Fuck ‘em.

Thanks for reading!

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