Weekend Recap: Top 5 Are Outside the Box


For the first time in Movie Muse history (and a mighty three months it’s been), I’ve recommended a movie that America greeted with a resounding “aw, hell no.”

I was hoping warm weather this weekend across the normally colder parts of the U.S. would aid my request last Friday for a nation-wide boycott of A Christmas Carol, but instead, it appears that the film that really flopped was the one I promoted: Richard Kelly’s The Box. Then again, I didn’t make it a point to get out and see the movie this weekend either.

My anti-early Christmas crusade did win a small victory in a sense, however, because no film with a $200 million budget that opens with only $30 million can feel good about itself. Speaking of $30 M, I was pretty dead-on with that prediction, a number below most prognosticators’ expectations. But does that smart pick make up for thinking The Boxwould make three times what it did? I don’t know, but it easily deserves to be this weekend’s biggest flop.

  1. A Christmas Carol $30 M (weekend) … $30 M (gross)
  2. This Is It – $13.2 M … $57 M
  3. The Men Who Stare at Goats $12.7 M … $12.7 M
  4. The Fourth Kind – $12.2 M … $12.2 M
  5. Paranormal Activity – $8.8 M … $97.1 M
  6. The Box – $7.6 M … $7.6 M
  7. Couples Retreat – $6.1 M … $95.7 M
  8. Law Abiding Citizen – $6 M … $60.7 M
  9. Where the Wild Things Are – $4.2 M … $69.2 M
  10. Astro Boy – $2.6 M … $15.1M

My guess is that poor word of mouth (such as “that movie was way too far out there”) and mixed reviews in general (and a scathing one of Cameron Diaz) were among the top reasons keeping people from seeing it.

I also thought America wouldn’t buy into the fake documentary alien abduction horror being promoted in The Fourth Kind, but I misfired there. Not being a mainstream horror fan, I’m clearly not cut out quite yet to guess what titillates American scream-lovers. Consequently, the film’s reasonable success made a big gash in Paranormal Activity’s profits. Naturally, had I thought “Kind” would be a success, I would’ve had to predict a bigger fall for “Activity.”

Another worthy note is of course The Men Who Stare At Goats. I think this film is undeniable proof of George Clooney’s box-office pull. Positive but not stellar reviews combined with America’s full acceptance that totally weird comedies are cool if George Clooney is in them made this finish above expectations for the genre and at No. 3

I’d normally consider The Box the biggest surprise, but in 18 theaters only, Lee Daniels’ Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire made nearly $2 million, good enough for No. 12. The film has had moviegoers at odds between hearing that the subject is both extremely difficult and the performances Oscar-worthy, but clearly intrigue won out this far. It will be interesting to follow the film’s success and see if it holds its own when other Oscar contenders start hitting theaters later in the month and early in December.


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