The bogus sweepstakes which the media calls 'The #1 Film in America" just ended for this week and THE TOWN surprised Hollywood. Now the pundits, industry insiders and know-it-alls are scratching their heads and muttering "Who knew?". That's classic film industry kitty litter reasoning.
Going into the weekend, the majority of Hollywood 'experts' predicted EASY A, by virtue of it being teen comedy, would rule the box office money collection. They knew that the world of film is ruled by hormonally charged teens and tweens. This high school rumor mongering comedy would draw them in like moths to a bright light on a dark night. These self-same mavens now look at the #2 showing as a failure. Oy. First EASY A garnered over $18 million in revenues for the weekend, that is better than predicted. More importantly, the film was made for just south of $8 million. Guess what? This Emma Stone headlined film is headed for profit land in its first weekend. When the dust finally settles on this baby, two things will emerge. One, the film will end up netting out over $20 million for Sony and two, Emma Stone's paycheck will get a serious upward tick.
The disappointment for the weekend was DEVIL. Grossing $12.5 million and being a labelled a 'horror' film puts the film into the disappointment category. Most 'horror' films gross between $40 and $20 million on it's opening weekend. The drop off after that is precipitous. Look at RESIDENT EVIL 3D, from week one to week two it dropped over 60%, 75% at the 3D locations. DEVIL is also the lowest opening for any film tagged with the 'M. Night Shyamalan' imprimatur. The luster from THE SIXTH SENSE just went down another few lumens.
The only film to do what it was expected to do was ALPHA & OMEGA, a 3D family film about wolves. Big surprise here, a family film, over priced for with 3D 'premium' ticket prices being released early on in the new school year when soccer, homework and other school related activities dominate a family's life. Yeah, you could smell this was a dog a mile away. Hollywood knew it too. That's why it was released now. Yes, Virginia, that is the toilet being flushed.
The nicest surprise is obviously THE TOWN. The experts thought the film would end up grossing around $16 million. Yet the buzz being generated said it would be more. The acting trio of Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm alone should have said something more positive. Toss in the assured direction of Mr. Affleck, THE TOWN offered a crisp adult action film with a solid dramatic script. Bottom line: good films draw. In this case to the tune of $23 million, and here's prediction, the normal 50% drop off from week one to week two? Look for a far less drop off. Word of mouth will help.
As the fall season for film continues, the lesson of THE TOWN will probably be lost on most of the industry gasbags. The over 25 demographic wants to see quality movies with good scripts and good actors. THE TOWN proves that.
Garen is a Gather.com correspondent. He's been in the 'biz' for more years than he wants to admit as a film programmer, analyst and commentator. You can find more at GarenDaly.com, BostonSci-Fi.com, TerrorThon.com. You can also see him on NE Cable News, or hear him on WGBH radio or NH Public Radio.