Box Office: "Dear John" Dethrones “Avatar”

2/07/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest bogger, Tim Strain

Good afternoon and Happy Super Bowl Sunday, film lovers and football fans. While the feel-good story Saints and bastard Colts prepare to go into battle this evening, there are still movies to be seen, and people are seeing them in droves.

Dear John” headlined one of the biggest Super Bowl weekends in box office history, posting a terrific $32 million opening. The Screen Gems production and marketing branches clearly attempted to make the film the contemporary version of “The Notebook,” the only film on record that makes every girl cry. Current American heartthrobs (somehow) Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum do the dance that Rachel McAdams did in the aforementioned Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

The perfunctorily guilt-stained, feel-good romance toppled The Juggernaut, which fell from the number one spot for the first time in its eight-week release. It dropped a measly 25%, aided by its recent nine Oscar nominations. It passed “Titanic” as the biggest film ever during the week, and we have all known for a while it would do that with ease. It has now made $630 million in the U.S., and $2.13 billion worldwide. It will remain on all IMAX until March 5, when Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” is released.

The other major release of the weekend, “From Paris With Love,” proved yet again that no matter how ridiculous the movie he is starring in, John Travolta’s facial hair will be even more ridiculous. He plays the crazy cop archetype unfortunately paired up with the bumbling nerd archetype (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Audiences declared they had, of course, seen this crap 500 times on daytime FX. It made $8 million in 2,722 theaters, and will probably be out of 95 percent of those theaters a month from now. Luc Besson, director of classics such as “Leon” and “The Fifth Element,” continues to frustrate fans with his merging into the mainstream with producer credits on increasingly bland work.

Several Oscar contenders saw large bumps in attendance. “Crazy Heart,” fueled by three nominations and it finally being in wide release (809 theaters), leapt into the top 10 for the first time in its eight-week run. “An Education,” “A Single Man," “Precious,” “The Last Station" and “The White Ribbon” all posted increases as well. “The Blind Side” and “Up in the Air” both coasted, staying in the 11th and 12th slots and only dropping 14 percent and 16 percent, respectively. “The Blind Side" is one of the three bona-fide blockbusters. “Up in the Air” is one of the more modestly successful of the bunch, along with “Inglourious Basterds,” “District 9,” and “Precious,” all of which have surpassed expectations.

Most recent releases did not fair well. Last weekend’s openers, “Edge of Darkness” and “When in Rome,” both dropped precipitously. For an $80 million action film whose director’s last work made $600 million worldwide, and a comedy that featured two gorgeous leads and had to shoot on-location in Rome (ca-ching), neither can be seen as successful. “Edge” has made $29 million and “Rome” has amassed $20. “The Tooth Fairy” stills has a chance to make back its $48 million budget, “The Book of Eli” will settle around $95 million, and “Sherlock Holmes” has eclipsed $200 million.

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