Lessons from the Box Office

We’re a little later today, sorry about that.

be the first on your block to see it!

be the first on your block to see it!

Quick note to remember our contest for the Harry Potter midnight show tickets at the Pocono Community Theater. Deadline is Wednesday at noon to enter. Also, I’ve been directed to blow out some Harry Potter coverage for Thursday’s paper too. So if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’re in the right place for the next week.

The links:

Some things we learned from this weekend’s box office:

–People love 3-D cartoons.

–Denzel Washington’s track record isn’t as good as you think it might be. He’s been solid-but-unspectacular in opening weekends throughout his career, and a $23 million opening for Unstoppable might seem low by today’s standards — but it’s right on par with his career. He’s had exactly one movie open at more than $33 million in his career — American Gangster. I’m trying to figure out who his peer would be — A-List, multiple Oscars, action-ready — and am coming up with two, Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe. Hanks’ live-action career actually doesn’t look much better from a box office standpoint — especially if you take away the Da Vinci Code movies — and neither does Crowe’s, whose biggest opening is also American Gangster. Just more proof that producing a movie is a huge crapshoot.

i like her, but she may be agent shopping soon

i like her, but she may be agent shopping soon

–Rachel McAdams took too much time off. After 2005 with Wedding Crashers, Red Eye and Family Stone, she took a couple years off. She had a huge hit with Sherlock Holmes, but I completely forgot she was in it until I looked it up. In that time off, she let Katherine Heigl grab McAdams’ rightful place as a go-to girl for chick flicks. So now we’re stuck with Heigl instead of McAdams. Insert collective groan here.

–Skyline needed someone other than Turk from Scrubs and Angel from Dexter frontlining the cast. A couple weeks ago I said it’s not as fun to predict winter bombs as it is to predict summer bombs, but that Skyline had the inside track for the winter’s title. Now, it’s kinda got it with just under $12 million. Just seems like a bad time of year for an alien invasion story, no?

We’re on another wave of canceled TV shows, here’s the catch-up:

Rubicon didn’t seem to stand a chance. Too complicated, to unlike anything else on TV, it was like some kind of Michael Crighton book on crack. And Michael Crighton isn’t even that good in the first place, so there you go. There seems to be some kind of movement afoot to get it saved by DirecTV, but even DirecTV can’t be desperate enough to take this show on. Complain all you want about how the rest of the world doesn’t get smart TV — and blame AMC all you want — but enough people are watching Mad Men and Breaking Bad even though they’re the smartest of smart shows.

Running Wilde first didn’t get its back-order of episodes, then came the talk that Fox already had something in the loop waiting to happen — the potential third TV strike for Christian Slater in three years, no less — and now the show has been taken out of its sweeps month spotin favor of Raising Hope reruns. So if there was any hope for Running Wilde to be saved — and it didn’t seem like there was anyway — Dean Wormer says there is a zero-point-zero chance of it being saved now. Let this be a rule to TV shows and the networks promoting them — never try to associate yourself with a show that was a ratings loser. Turning this into an Arrested Development clone in the commercials probably wasn’t the best idea.

hey, did you know there are bears in alaska? there are!

hey, did you know there are bears in alaska? there are!

Watching most reality shows to me is pretty much the most boring thing I can think of doing. I’d usually rather be hung upside down by my toenails for an hour than watch five minutes of Dancing with the Stars (though I’m enjoying this season of I Love Money on VH1 even though I don’t recognize many of the people in it). So I’m already biased against reality shows, but 10 minutes of Sarah Palin’s Alaska was just about all I could take without figuring out a way to jab my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon. Not everyone thought like me. The highlight was the family looking condescendingly at a neighbor quietly reading a book on his back porch and Palin wondering if he was taking pictures of them. So they ran. Then they high-fived because they “showed him,” which translated for us mainlanders means, “Holy poop I’m paranoid.”

It’s still early, but it’s always a good time to start thinking about Oscar season, especially when it comes to planning out your movie viewing schedule for the next two months. On this stab, Winter’s Bone is listed as the 10th and final entry for best picture — but I don’t see it happening. It will end up in my top 10 easily, and probably top 5 because I liked it a good bit. I just don’t see any way it gathers enough momentum to get out to the mainstream. It’s been on video for about a month now, and I still don’t hear people talking about it that much.

just a wrinkle or something, that's not asking much

just a wrinkle or something, that's not asking much

Count me on board with the new trend of timelessness in comic book movies. Why not, since the comics are timeless? It’s much easier to do with Wolverine because apparently Hugh Jackman doesn’t age. Seriously! The guy looks almost exactly the same now as he did in the first X-Men 10 years ago. And people thought he might have been too old to play Wolverine then! It’s a great idea for the Wolverine movie since these Wolverine comic books in Japan are completely separate from anything X-Men. The more I hear about this movie, the better it sounds.

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