Patterico's Pontifications

12/16/2007

Let’s Go to the Movies

Filed under: Movies — DRJ @ 2:01 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Either Will Smith and the Chipmunks are the most popular actors of all time or American movie-goers are desperate to see anything but the anti-war movies (like Lions for Lambs, Rendition, and Redacted) that Hollywood has offered so far this Fall:

Turning into instant box office legends, Warner Bros.’ Will Smith starrer “I Am Legend” became the highest grossing December picture of all time with an estimated opening haul of $76.5 million from 3,606 theaters and Twentieth Century Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks” surpassed all expectations in debuting at an estimated $45 million from 3,475 runs.

Solidifying Smith’s status as one of the world’s most bankable stars, “Legend” is the new lord and master of the Christmas frame, beating out previous record-holder “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” which opened to $72.6 million in December 2003. “Legend,” which Warners produced and co-financed with Village Roadshow Pictures, is the 16th highest opener of all time for anytime of the year.

“Alvin,” showing strength across all age groups, enjoyed the second-highest December opening ever for a film rated G or PG after Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which opened to $65.5 million in 2005. “Alvin” is the eighth highest-grossing December film ever.

Combined, the two films jolted the domestic box office back to life after a brutal fall, which has been posted steady declines year-over-year.

No offense to Will Smith and the Chipmunks – I like them all – but almost anything could lure me to the theater compared to Hollywood’s recent fare.

— DRJ

61 Responses to “Let’s Go to the Movies”

  1. Christmas, Christmas time is near,
    Time for toys and time for cheer…

    tired (2e7c68)

  2. I recommend the original, starring Vincent Price, but I recommend the book by Richard Matheson even more. (“The Omega Man” is a waste of time.)

    nk (6061ba)

  3. The Chipmunks were our Christmas favorite, as kids, much to my parents’ chagrin. I can’t wait to see the movie!

    Patricia (f56a97)

  4. Lions for Lambs has now grossed over 46 million according to Box Office Mojo
    Production costs were 35 million. With DVD sales it should break even maybe show a bit of profit.

    John Ryan (dd3d89)

  5. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think production costs don’t take into account the marketing budget, just as the box office number doesn’t take into account the percentage that goes to the theater. Lions for Lambs may very well end up in the black, but I don’t think the $46 million gross to date indicates that it is necessarily certain, even with forthcoming DVD sales.

    JVW (477e5a)

  6. If Lions for Lambs has $46M total-to-date compared to Legends $76.5M opening weekend, that’s an even worse disparity than I realized.

    DRJ (09f144)

  7. We’re waiting for “National Treasure 2.” NRO’s review of “I Am Legend” tried to make it sound better than I’m guessing it is (it actually sounds really stupid).

    We wasted 2+ hrs. today on Spidey 3 and I’ve come to the conclusion that Hollywood has totally lost its mojo. Last night I opened up my Astaire/Rogers collection and we started watching those. We’re thinking about getting an Xbox and games. It’d probably be a very good thing for all of us if the Writers’ Strike goes on an extremely long time.

    Peg C. (836973)

  8. the box office doesn’t reflect theatergoers’ opinion of the war, kiddies. people go to the movies to be entertained, to escape; those “anti-war” movies were just a little bit too much like real life.

    assistant devil's advocate (64f0e7)

  9. ADA, then why do war games fare so much better than escapist games? The best game right now, if you believe rankings and revenue, is Call of Duty 4, which covers the war on terror as though it was run from the Bush Propaganda arm.

    ADA, people love the topic, just not the negative bullshit view. Show me the movie covering this war that isn’t negatively spun, but does have strong production value. It isn’t out there. So you have nothing to base your opinion on.

    Dustin (29d3e6)

  10. ..that’s an even worse disparity than I realized.

    Legends is showing in 1,400 more theaters than Lions for Lambs did.

    steve (e452ed)

  11. Good grief, now it’ll be decades before we’re rid of the Fresh Prince of Scientology.

    Quality cannot and should not be measured in terms of box office success. This has been quite a good year and speaking only of english-language films for the moment I highly recomend I’m Not There, Sweeney Todd, There Will Be Blood, The Wlaker, Michael Clayton, Eastern Promises,Zodiac, Into the Wild, and The Lookout.

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  12. people go to the movies to be entertained, to escape; those “anti-war” movies were just a little bit too much like real life.

    Then why make them?

    Paul (2ca51d)

  13. Legends is showing in 1,400 more theaters than Lions for Lambs did.

    For good reason. Nobody wants to see it.

    DRJ (09f144)

  14. I chose not to see it when the rest of the family went last night…no one came back with praise…sort of a “wouldn’t pay to see it again” type of response. I won’t waste my time.

    Sue (518103)

  15. Nobody wants to see it.

    Nobody must like “anti-war movies,” then.

    The Bourne franchise was a fluke.

    steve (517c3d)

  16. Anyone seen Charlie Wilson’s War? The trailer makes it look like a Hollywood attempt at minimizing Reagan’s Cold War victory.

    chas (d7c0b2)

  17. No it isn’t, chas. You will be happy to know that it’s a big wet smack on Reagan’s withered ass. Aaron Sokin and Mike Nichols tell the thrilling story of how the world was made safe for Julia Roberts’ wigs through the efforts of Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and a bunch of middle eastern extras they supply with anti-aircraft guns.

    Tom holds hack the sobs as he visits a refugee camp where he meets children whose hands were blown off by Soviet bombs created for that very purpose. Meanwhile Julia sniffles about our brave allies in Central America — who built similar bombs and murdered and tortured peasants via techniques taught by our famed “School of the Americas.”

    Naturally none of that makes it into this smugfest. But Conservabots such as yourself will not only have nothing to complain about, you’ll give this piece of gilded shit a Standing O as the end credits roll.

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  18. David,

    In all seriousness and in a perfectly friendly way, have you considered that if Hollywood made only the movies you like it would go bankrupt in a year?

    nk (6061ba)

  19. After reading David’s snarky review, I might have to see it. The trailer looked like another hit on Republicans, although Wilson was a Democrat from the days when Democrats didn’t hide under the covers.

    The reason why Hollywood makes these things is that, like Pauline Kael about Nixon, they don’t know anybody who supports the war. They think these crappy movies will be blockbusters. After all, everyone at the cocktail party agrees with them.

    MIke K (693378)

  20. Will Smith and the Chipmunks. Now that has possibilities. Will Smith (as himself) mets, and is adopted by, three talking, singing chipmunks. Can an actor, rapper, and scientologist deal with the scalawag trio? And what does Scientological doctrine have to say about harmonizing chipmunks?

    Alan Kellogg (8af5df)

  21. Julia Roberts wears wigs?

    DRJ (09f144)

  22. “The reason why Hollywood makes these things is that, like Pauline Kael about Nixon, they don’t know anybody who supports the war. They think these crappy movies will be blockbusters. After all, everyone at the cocktail party agrees with them.”

    And you don’t know anyone who doesn’t support the war — which is why the poll numbers are so astonishing to you. Charlie Wilson’s War takes place in Washington D.C. and Afganistan in the 80s — ie. before the current festivities got under way. No idea of how it’s going to fare with the public.

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  23. “In all seriousness and in a perfectly friendly way, have you considered that if Hollywood made only the movies you like it would go bankrupt in a year?”

    Few of the films I like are made by Hollywood.

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  24. And you don’t know anyone who doesn’t support the war

    Really, David?

    I guess all those protestors dancing around with paper-mache heads chanting two-line philosphies are a myth.

    Along with lefty commentors like yourself.

    Paul (2ca51d)

  25. “… almost anything could lure me to the theater compared to Hollywood’s recent fare.” Not me. I’ve got Netflix and I’ll never again go see a movie in a theater.

    gp (3c266f)

  26. I thought the Omega Man was a pretty good movie.

    davod (5bdbd3)

  27. 26, I agree, and it was NOT racial. Maybe that is why the lefties hate it. Maybe Charleton Heston making out with a Black woman offends them or invalidates their prejudices.

    PCD (09d6a8)

  28. “I guess all those protestors dancing around with paper-mache heads chanting two-line philosphies are a myth.”

    What drugs are you on? Vicotin?

    “26, I agree, and it was NOT racial. Maybe that is why the lefties hate it. Maybe Charleton Heston making out with a Black woman offends them or invalidates their prejudices.”

    What makes you think “the lefties hate it”? Who are thesde phantom “lefties”? According to you they’re all racists. What’s the color of the sky in your world?

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  29. Maybe Charleton Heston making out with a Black woman offends them or invalidates their prejudices.

    Nope. Just that making out with a lady vampire, like in the book, would have been a lot cooler. And vampires with machine guns, again like Matheson had written, even coolerer. Charlton Heston showing off his shooting skills against a bunch of bleached Luddites was basically a Saturday morning cartoon.

    nk (6061ba)

  30. Oh look how robert REDford lost big over his latest movie and THE GOLDEN COMPASS has been a flop but it look like WILL SMITH as well as ALVIN,SIMON and THEODOR and beating those others out.CHRISTMAS CHRITMAS TIME IS NEAR.TIME FOR TOYS AND TIME FOR CHEER

    krazy kagu (5fcc3d)

  31. David:

    Few of the films I like are made by Hollywood

    How does that square with:

    I’m Not There, Sweeney Todd, There Will Be Blood, The Wlaker, Michael Clayton, Eastern Promises,Zodiac, Into the Wild, and The Lookout.

    The ironing is delicious.

    Gabriel (6d7447)

  32. Well, Gabe, here is my all-time top ten:

    1. Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (Patrice Chéreau, 1998)
    2. Out One (Jacques Rivette, 1971)
    3. La Commune (de Paris, 1871) (Peter Watkins, 2000)
    4. (Federico Fellini, 1963)
    5. Un condamné à mort s’est échappé (Robert Bresson, 1956)
    6. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
    7. The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1949)
    8. Lola Montès (Max Ophuls, 1955)
    9. Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
    10. Salo (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)

    Would you like some whipped cream on your “irony”?

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  33. Oh come the hell on you did not just list Salo as one of your top ten? Unless you have a serious child/teen rape fetish with a heavy dose of S&M fever, you couldn’t possibly believe that film is well made, let alone making a top ten list.

    Gabriel (6d7447)

  34. Let’s all admire how cultured David is.

    Joe M. (db09f2)

  35. Nothing says “cultured” and “artistic” like a movie about fascist kid-diddlers who enjoy a good shit eating buffet followed up with rape, torture, and mutilation. Fun for the whole family. Honestly, I’m astonished that its not broadcast on a portable screen at the Fulton street fair.

    Gabriel (6d7447)

  36. And I’m astonished that its not broadcast on a portable screen at the Republican National Convention.

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  37. David’s list is so pretentious. Are you a charicture or a real herson?

    Minturn (2a8465)

  38. “Are you a charicture or a real herson?”

    Good question Minty.

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  39. Grosses….
    I think the rule of thumb on movie grosses is that to “break even” (you must realize that the accounting system in use in Hollyweird is not approved by Sarbanes-Oxley) a film has to gross three times its’ production cost. This takes into account the percentage due the exhibitor, plus the marketing costs, and what the studio is going to steal.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  40. Given that “I am Legend” is based on the same Richard Matheson book as Charlton Heston’s “Omeaga Man”, you may already know the general outline of the ending, but the beginning is interesting (not Omega Man’s germ warfare).

    The basic premise is a variant strain of Germain measles appears to cure cancer, but then later goes wild. I’m sure at least a few viewers of will come out a bit more skeptical of the promise of medical “cures”.

    Neo (cba5df)

  41. Let’s all admire how cultured David is.

    Comment by Joe M. — 12/17/2007 @ 10:05 am

    The Night of the Hunter. Hmm. pretty entertaining flick. Good taste David.

    I heard of 8-1/2. Is that the prequel to 9-1/2 Weeks? (channeling Ghost World)

    Lola Montes? Betcha that’s another sequel. Man I loved Franka Potente running all over the place in that first one. That red hair–Ha!

    no one you know (b74c0b)

  42. “then why do war games fare so much better than escapist games?”

    – Dustin

    Because people love the rush they get from killing some(one,thing) in a video game. My brother, friends, and I spend a considerable amount of time awarding one another bragging rights for Highest Spurt of Blood from a Headshot, Most Cinematic Killing Sequence, or Most Enemies Run Over With A Vehicle.

    The difference is, we know the difference between a video game (where killing is fun) and real life (where killing most certainly is not). Some people, unfortunately, have yet to make the distinction.

    And, for what it’s worth, there’s rather escapist game called “BioShock” that’s winning Game of the Year awards left and right (that is, it’s doing better than Call of Duty 4 – “bush propaganda arm” aside).

    Leviticus (9fe18a)

  43. I thought BioShock also involves killing things. At least, that’s my recollection from the review I read.

    DRJ (09f144)

  44. Yeah, besides David messing with DRJ’s post, he lost me with his list. I’m not going to respect any list that does not have Murder My Sweet, Out Of The Past, The Searchers, The Wild Bunch and Once Upon A Time In The West in it.

    nk (6061ba)

  45. Somewhat belated comment.

    Dustin: “Show me the movie covering this war that isn’t negatively spun, but does have strong production value.”

    I agree, there’s been no “Green Berets” made about the Iraq War. “300”, however, grossed $456,592,590 worldwide in theaters, plus $204,643,153 in US DVD sales. Many saw this movie as supporting the War on Terror, the way 1962’s “The 300 Spartans” was seen at the time as a film depicting the Communist threat. On the other hand, many saw “300” as a giant video game, so there’s that.

    Green Berets was pretty much a project of John Wayne with a lot of support from LBJ and the US Army. Given the unhappiness of the public with the Iraq War, perhaps the White House missed a trick not working with somebody like Chuck Norris and some independent film companies with conservative money to make some films about the Iraq War that had the message of Sands of Iwo Jima and Twenty Seconds Over Tokyo. They probably had a problem because they didn’t expect the length of the conflict and kept telling the public that the troops would be coming home soon. Big mistake.

    JayHub (0a6237)

  46. Oh I like all the films you mentioend very much, nk.

    It’s just that I like the ones on my list more.

    David Ehrenstein (5f9866)

  47. Saw Legend this weekend, the movie was good but very depressing. For some reason I actually lost sleep thinking about it, and the whole last man on Earth thing. I never lose sleep over movies so apparantly it was better than I thought.

    Allen (507302)

  48. David,

    How can you see anything with all that pig manure on your desk? The sky is blue here in Iowa.

    Of course, I’m going to root for “Field of Dreams”, “F.I.S.T.”, and “Take This Job and Shove It” as they were all filmed locally.

    I also like “2001”, “Apollo 13″, “American Grafitti”, “Star Trek III”, “First Blood”, “The Hellfighters”, “Forbidden Planet”, and “Ed Wood”.

    PCD (09d6a8)

  49. David #49,

    I’m on the opposite side of Gibney’s point of view but I think the MPAA is wrong on this. Especially wrong for an organization which depends, derivatively at least, on freedom of expression for its existence. It would be worse than sad if all we could see or hear was what is “suitable for all audiences including children”.

    nk (6061ba)

  50. Best film of 2007 – Ratatouille

    Seems the best writing with clear themes, excellent acting, fun to spend time with characters, are residing on the animation side of the aisle lately.

    Darleen (187edc)

  51. Ratatouille — a film concieved around the most grievous of all board of health violations.

    David Ehrenstein (4ce68d)

  52. oh, David, I’m in awe of your magnificent wit.

    Darleen (187edc)

  53. Ratatouille — a film concieved around the most grievous of all board of health violations.

    In America, sure. But in France? They eat snails and frogs, there. Rat in your food probably doubles the bill. 😉

    nk (6061ba)

  54. P.S. for those who read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories. Remember the one where the Ankh-Morpork restaurant owner was almost lynched for trying to pass off chicken as rat?

    nk (6061ba)

  55. Some of us have a taste for “long pig.”

    David Ehrenstein (4ce68d)

  56. A word two words to the wise. Jacobs-Creutzfeld. Just bury them, David.

    nk (6061ba)

  57. In regard to the $46 million gross for Lions for Lambs, that’s correct (actually up to $47 million by now), but that’s the worldwide gross. The domestic (USA & Canada) gross so far has been only $15 million, and given that the movie grossed only $32,670 last weekend (its sixth weekend in release), I think we can say the movie is pretty much tapped out in the domestic market by now.

    By comparison, the $77 million for I Am Legend and $44 million for Alvin and the Chipmunks reflect just the opening weekend in the USA and Canada, nothing else.

    Joshua (ae8cbe)

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