August 22, 2011

THE BIJOU BOXOFFICE: Footnotes – 8/21/11


There’s not much to add about the weekend grosses that hasn’t been said (see Mitch Metcalf’s round-up report here), so let’s take a look at who, apart from the studios themselves, did and didn’t have a fun weekend:
Women of THE HELPEmma Stone isn’t likely to get Oscar consideration for her performance, being the “White Actress in an African-American Story” (for a particularly egregious example of this criticism, see Patrick Goldstein’s column today–as a rule of thumb, if you have to cite Armond White as back-up for your argument, you may want to rethink the debate).  But she’s still the biggest name in a smash hit, and her supporting role in the sleeper CRAZY STUPID LOVE doesn’t hurt either–assuming that the Spider-Man reboot doesn’t go splat next summer, she’ll have as much claim as anyone to the currently vacant title of America’s Sweetheart.  Meanwhile, Viola Davis has a big decision to make:  campaign for the Oscar as Best Actress (which she might not win, but just being nominated could bring her to a new level in the industry) or Supporting (where she would have a serious chance at victory)?  Her decision will directly impact co-star Octavia Spencer, who has a much better chance of making the cut in Supporting with Davis in the leading category.  (There’s also the chance Sissy Spacek could pull a Supporting nomination for her tasty little role as Bryce Dallas Howard’s mother, but probably not–see “White Actress in an African-American Story,” above.)  Not in the same gender pool but still a Winner is director Tate Taylor, who went from being utterly unknown to the man behind a giant success, without having to direct music videos or make a stop at Sundance.

Expanders:  Several limited releases widened their runs this weekend with generally good results.  SARAH’S KEY made $3900 at each of 201 theatres; THE GUARD did $5200 at 83; THE WHISTLEBLOWER, $3200 at 44; and SENNA, $12K at 14.  (THE FUTURE did less well, with $2K at 32.) 
Andy Serkis:  He probably won’t get that Oscar nomination for his motion-capture performance as Caesar the chimp.  But when Fox starts its campaign on his behalf, no one will be laughing.
Avi Lerner:  You may never have heard of him, but he’s produced 243 movies for his Nu Image and Millenium studios, most of them proud–and often profitable–pieces of low-budget schlock.  (Righteous Kill?  The Nicolas Cage remake of The Wicker Man?  Those were his.)  He had a breakout hit last year with The Expendables, and this year CONAN THE BARBARIAN was supposed to provide him with his first real franchise, at an expensive-for-him cost of $70-90M.  Now the movie will have to hope for huge overperformance overseas just to break even (although no doubt Lerner’s own investment is covered by pre-release guarantees, from distributors who may not be his biggest fans today).
Bob Weinstein:  His Dimension genre brand was supposed to fund brother Harvey’s swings for the Oscar fences.  But this week’s disastrous reboot of SPY KIDS follows the disastrous reboot of Scream earlier this year; coming soon is another “found footage” horror movie with Apollo 18, and then a second chapter in the Piranha series, which didn’t do all that well ($25M) the first time.
Anne Hathaway:  Remember that currently-vacant position of America’s Sweetheart?  It wasn’t so long ago that the job seemed Hathaway’s for the taking, but the past year or so hasn’t gone so well.  It’s not that Hathaway is giving bad performances, or even choosing terrible movies (Love and Other Drugs was a tonal mess, but still entertaining, and One Day is a respectable failure)–she just seems to be pushing too hard, nowhere more so than during her painful-to-watch Oscar gig.  The Dark Knight Rises isn’t likely to do much more for her than previous installments did for Katie Holmes or Maggie Gyllenhaal (odds are that Tom Hardy will be the movie’s Heath Ledger and she’ll be Aaron Eckhart), but that’s OK as long as her Catwoman doesn’t actually hurt the picture.
Colin Farrell:  After paying some dues with his fine performances in little films like In Bruges, Crazy Heart and Ondine, Fright Night was supposed to be Farrell’s first step back to commercial viability–but even with good reviews, it turned out no one cared.  Up next is the much more expensive remake of Total Recall, whose producers can’t be feeling too comfortable now that this week’s Conan reboot fell flat on its face.
Openers:  Nothing much was happening in the arthouses this weekend.  John Sayles’ AMIGO could only muster $4K per theatre in 10 despite guest appearances from Sayles and the actors, and MOZART’S SISTER wasn’t much better with $4700 in each of 7.  The one seeming exception is misleading:  Kevin Smith’s RED STATE pulled in $26K in a single LA theatre as part of its Oscar-qualifying week (it seems the picture, despite its massive Sundance hoopla, is going to VOD next month and may never have a conventional theatrical release), but that number was boosted by a Q&A with the motormouth maestro at every show.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."