Yes Virginia, box office matters
The other day as I poked my head up from working on the Forecast (lord, can’t wait until we automate more of it) I was speaking to my good buddy who will henceforth go by the alias Revolver. After a long day of mind-numbing work, nothing is better than just shooting the [expletive] and talking Oscar. It’s like sports. The whole season is a big competition (you didn’t think it was about the quality of the movies did you?), you root for people like your favorite hometown team and no matter what happens, you know it’s going to start all over again and suck you back into it next year.
Brazenly, I mentioned to Revolver that such and such an event didn’t matter in the context of this year’s race. He quickly reminded me that nothing in Oscar world is insignificant. Whether it’s screeners arriving a day late, an ill-timed trade ad or that blind item in Page Six, it all ads up in the long run.
So, while there is a lull between the Globe and SAG nomination announcements and when all the minor trophies get handed out next month, the focus of everyone’s attention is on the holiday box office. And trust me, it matters.
As so many contenders are slowly rolled out across the country, per screen average seems more important than ever. At least to publicists that is. Whether it’s Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” out performing his previous winner “Million Dollar Baby” or “Slumdog Millionaire’s” continuing goldmine in less than 600 theaters ($12.1 million and counting) how these pics perform means something in the minds of Oscar voters. Trust me, nobody wants to vote for a looser or a perceived loser.
This past weekend expanded the fiend of winners. Hipster favorite “The Wrestler” had a sweet $50,000 per screen this past weekend, “Doubt’s” per screen jumped 44% thanks to the SAG nods and the aforementioned “Torino” and “Slumdog” that, unlike the big boys this past weekend, avoided any declines because of the east coast’s winter weather.
The losers? “Frost/Nixon,” which dropped 42% and isn’t playing as well as it should, my beloved “The Reader,” which is tanking like a mother and showing Harvey Weinstein can’t run an awards campaign at any level anymore, and “Milk” which although it’s grossed a nice (emphasis on “nice”) $10.3 million is really slowing down (the Harvey Milk story is not playing outside the big cities, imagine that).
As for the final round of contenders, keep a close eye on the early returns this holiday for “Revolutionary Road” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” The former needs a strong per screen to keep its Oscar buzz alive and, on a national level; the later needs to withstand the collective power of Adam Sandler, Tom Cruise and a tearjerker with a cute dog.
And for all the complaining about how painful some of the darker films are this year, trust me, nothing is more excruciating than wasting two hours of your life sitting through “Bedtime Stories.”
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
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