This Week in Box Office History
Neil Worcester – Deluxe Video Online
This Week in Box Office History takes a look at the last 30 years of top grossing movies. Sifting through the celluloid, we nail down audience preferences and spot the trends in movie watching history. Sometimes the nature of a shifting calendar means the weekends don’t match up nice and pretty. This week, we have a split personality disorder brewing, where one set of data only takes us to Thursday of last week, and the next slops over the tidy weekend marker and carries into this week’s Monday and Tuesday. Treat them as separate weeks? Ram them together? I’m going to do a mix, and see how the box evolved over a “two week” period.
The Trends: Highly Volatile
Looking at the two weeks back to back, it’s apparent that very few films managed to hang on to the top spot in consecutive weeks. As we can see with this weeks top trending films, three major factors contribute to this rapidly shifting scene:
1. Horror Movies rarely have staying power.
In the early week break, there is not just one Resident Evil movie making the top spot, but three! That’s a lot of people paying to get a glimpse of a naked Mila Jovovich! Only one, RE: Extinction, hangs around for another week. Last week’s top horror film, A Nightmare on Elm St. 4 is gone, but Freddy’s Dead takes its place. The top current movie of last week, Insidious 2, is dead and gone. Stigmata is unable to leave a mark (heh heh) after its initial week on the chart. It seems that horror movies get an enthusiastic welcome, especially this close to the Halloween holiday, but rarely warrant a re-watch in the theaters, or else they flame out due to silliness. I love the Resident Evil series for how they’ve managed to take some of the best visuals of the game series and to actually feed cool visuals back into the games themselves, but the plots of are pretty damn awful, even when stolen whole cloth. If you’ve seen the laser scene once, its hard to warrant a second viewing.
2. Fewer big movies are being released.
Both a positive and a negative, less mega budget movies seem to be released this time of year. Horror movies, even the big spectacle ones, tend to be done on the cheap. Gone are the huge money action movies and super hero blowouts. Even last weeks big action vehicle, Riddick, was shot for a more modest 38 million (that and the post-summer release tell you all you need to know about how far Diesel’s Riddick has fallen in Hollywood’s estimation.) The only real action film in the mix this week, Timecop, actually manages to hang on for both weeks.
Far from being bad news, this allows some smaller, more intelligent films to sneak in. This week’s Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman, certainly is benefiting from not having to go head to head with more titanic offerings. Tyler Perry manages to squeak into the top spot, as do the Coen brothers with Burn After Reading (which surprisingly doesn’t manage to get two weeks, and is dethroned by 2008’s Lakeview Terrace.) Jodie Foster manages to double up, getting a number one each week with two different films: The Brave One (2007) and Flightplan (2005). The only stability comes from Ice Cube and Keanu Reeves of all people, with 2002’s Barbershop, and 2001’s Hardball. Most of these films would be outliers any other week, but are all pretty much at home in the odd mix in this slower season.
3. There’s no major genres playing sweeper.
This week is definitely post-summer blockbuster territory, and the Halloween season does not seem to be in full swing as of yet. This period in the box office features two sports films (Hardball and Gridiron Gang), a handful of thrillers (The Watcher, both Foster movies, The Game, Fatal Attraction), a few romantic offerings (Sea of Love, Just like Heaven,) and a few that defy easy categorization…
This week is pretty choc-a-block with notable films. In any other week, both Timecop and Jackass would be worth some good-natured ribbing. All the Keanu Reeves seems like a shame to waste, too. But I think two movies really stand out. Moon Over Parador (1988) is just too odd a flick to pass by unmentioned. Richard Dreyfus plays the president of a banana republic and an actor who must eventually fake being the president. Hardly a novel concept by now, but at the time apparently novel enough to get a #1 spot, and I bet even money you could stump any movie geek by mentioning Moon Over Parador.
1988 liked their comedy quirky, because the second film is from the same year: A Fish Called Wanda. If you haven’t added this movie to your must watch comedy lists, make up for lost time, for the most amazing string of insults ever strung together, if for nothing else.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.