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Box Office: Clooney, Machete and the Summer That Was

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Box Office: Clooney, Machete and the Summer That Was

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:29 pm

http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2016247,00.html

By Richard Corliss Monday, Sep. 06, 2010

Director Anton Corbijn, left, and George Clooney during the filming of The American
Giles Keyte / Focus Features / AP

The good news for George Clooney: for the first time in his career, a movie in which he solo-starred opened No.1 at the weekend box office. The bad news: his artsy thriller, The American, earned a mere $13 million in North American theaters in the first three days of the four-day Labor Day frame, according to early studio estimates. This is often the lowest-grossing weekend of the year, so no one was expecting Toy Story 3 numbers; but the $13 million, if it's certified in the final figures, would be the lowest winning tally for a movie in its opening weekend since Bangkok Dangerous exactly two years ago. Two more bits of bad news for Mr. Dreamboat: early viewers polled by CinemaScore gave The American a D-minus grade — we didn't know CinemaScore markings went that low — and Clooney's only star competition was — who? — Danny Trejo.

You know, Danny Trejo, the longtime stunt man, gnarly supporting actor and second cousin to Austin auteur Robert Rodriguez. Machete, Rodriguez's vivid Latino action-splatter-comedy, features Trejo as an ex-Federale trying to clean up the corrupt Texas establishment and make the state safe for illegal immigrants. The movie had loud buzz, pulled a worthy 71% rating in Rotten Tomatoes' survey of critics' reviews and seemed poised to show fans of The Expendables how entertaining an R-rated adventure starring really old guys could be. (Trejo is 66, The Expendables' Sylvester Stallone 64.) Yet Machete took in only $11.3 million from Friday to Sunday; and Rodriguez's plans to make Machete sequels now look loonily optimistic. Another fanboy fave film bites the dust. (See TIME's 2008 cover story on George Clooney.)

Here are the Sunday estimates of this weekend's top-grossing pictures in North American theaters, as reported by Box Office Mojo:

1. The American, $12.97 million, first weekend; $16.1 million, first five days
2. Takers, $11.45 million; $37.9 million, second week
3. Machete, $11.3 million, first weekend
4. The Last Exorcism, $7.6 million; $32.5 million, second week
5. Going the Distance, $6.9 million, first weekend
6. The Expendables, $6.6 million; $92.1 million, fourth week
7. The Other Guys, $5.4 million; $106.9 million, fifth week
8. Eat Pray Love, $4.85 million; $68.95 million, fourth week
9. Inception, $4.5 million; $277.1 million, eighth week
10. Nanny McPhee Returns, $3.6 million; $22.4 million, third week

The Summer, in Sum

The four months of the 2010 movie summer — the way Hollywood figures it, the season begins in early May and ends Labor Day — hewed to form. The 10 top-grossing pictures at domestic theaters included the usual suspects: four sequels, one remake, three animated features, five movies for the kiddie market, an Adam Sandler comedy and, when The Other Guys overtakes Salt in the next week or so, a Will Ferrell comedy. Though women constituted the bulk of the audience for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the only other film with a female lead to earn more than $100 million at home was Angelina Jolie's Salt, and that was a red-meat espionage thriller for the male market. (Read "Review: George Clooney's Ugly American.")

On the upside, the official surprises were: that Inception lived up to its pre-release hype and attracted not just guys addicted to brainy video games but the wide audience; that Despicable Me, a CGI cartoon made from a fresh story on a modest budget by a new animation studio, hit the bull's eye; and that The Karate Kid had the same drawing power in 2010 that the original did in 1984. The big box-office underachievers were Ridley Scott's Robin Hood with Russell Crowe, the Sex and the City sequel and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's attempt to create a Pirates-like franchise with Prince of Persia. All finished in the $90-million-to-$105-million range in North America and were considered flops.

The big 10 of summer, in North American theaters, as of this weekend:

1. Toy Story 3, $408.1 million
2. Iron Man 2, $312.1 million
3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, $298.7 million
4. Inception, $277.1 million
5. Despicable Me, $240.3 million
6. Shrek Forever After, $238.4 million
7. The Karate Kid, $175.9 million
8. Grown Ups, $159.4 million
9. The Last Airbender, $131.2 million
10. Salt, $115.2 million

But foreigners go to the movies too, and this summer a lot of them paid to see Robin, Sex and Prince. Each of these films took in at least $100 million more abroad than in North America. Even the perceived flop du flops, Tom Cruise's Knight & Day, which earned half the take of Sandler's Grown Ups in the domestic market, made more than twice as much in foreign climes; the two films' worldwide take is about the same. Tom Terrific's movie career may not be over, after all.

Some films appeal to audiences in a universal language. Toy Story 3, the year's top-grossing film at home, was also No. 1 abroad, and became the third movie this year (after Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) to exceed $1 billion at the worldwide wickets. No wonder there'll be a Toy Story 4 ... and maybe a Shrek 5, since a $700 million total gross has to indicate that moviegoers aren't tired of the green ogre. (Despicable Me has so far earned abroad only about 30% of its domestic take, but it has yet to open in many European countries.) In all, five films earned at least a half-billion dollars this summer. (Comment on this story.)

Here are the season's global winners — each with domestic gross, foreign gross and worldwide total, respectively — in millions (m) of dollars:

1. Toy Story 3, $408.1m (domestic) + $621.4m (foreign) = $1,029.5m (total)
2. Shrek Forever After, $238.4m + $470.6m = $709m
3. Inception, $277.1m + $417.6m = $694.7m
4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, $298.7m + $356.7m = $655.4m
5. Iron Man 2, $312.1m + $309.6m = $621.7m
6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, $90.6m + $239m = $329.6m
7. The Karate Kid, $175.9m + $142.5 = $318.4m
8. Robin Hood, $105.3m + $205.4m = $310.6m
9. Despicable Me, $240.3m + $69.6m = $309.8m
10. Sex and the City 2, $95.3m + $194.7m = $290.1m

Thanking the Little People

Female characters were near-invisible in most of the summer hits, and woman directors totally absent. But as Peter Knegt has pointed out on IndieWire, both sectors were well represented in the summer's independent and foreign films. Lisa Chodolenko's The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple whose children want to know about their sperm-donor daddy, is the season's top-grossing indie hit. Debra Granek's unsparing Winter's Bone has passed the $5 million mark; that's like $100 million for a big Hollywood production. That regal daredevil Tilda Swinton, speaking Italian yet, lured discriminating viewers to the sexy-swoony I Am Love. Other notable actors doing pro-bono film work included Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray in Get Low, Ray Liotta in City Island, Michael Douglas in Solitary Man and Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly in Cyrus.

Four of the 10 top-grossers on the indie list are foreign-language films: I Am Love, this year's Oscar-winning The Secret of Their Smile and the pair of adaptations from Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, soon to be remade in English by David Fincher, earned a robust $10 million in North America, plus $93 million abroad. Its incendiary sequel has already taken in more than $6 million here. Those movies didn't need a Hollywood star to lure an audience; they made a star. Few knew Noomi Rapace before she played Lisbeth Salander. Now she's thought to be a lock for an Academy Award nomination. Which is one more reason that the mass of moviegoers shouldn't ignore indie and foreign films. When it's time to fill out your ballot for the Oscar office pool, you should know about the "little" films in the big categories.

Here are the season's top-grossing indie and foreign films, including some that opened in the spring but kept playing through the summer:

1. The Kids Are All Right, July, $19.8 million
2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, March, $10 million
3. Cyrus, June, $7.4 million
4. City Island, March, $6.7 , million
5. The Girl Who Played With Fire, July, $6.3 million
6. The Secret in Their Eyes, April, $6.3 million
7. Get Low, July, $5.5 million
8. Winter's Bone, June, $5.5 million
9. I Am Love, June, $4.5 million
10. Solitary Man, May, $4.3 million

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