Box Office Special - Hancock's Whale of a Tale

I'm still getting my head screwed on straight since returning from a vacation this weekend, so I'm going to do a quick rundown in bullet point format because that is the laziest possible format one can write in (but also the most fun to read, go figure!). For your data fix this week, you can peep the Horrors of 2008. Last week I added some fun average and median figures, which you'll see at the bottom. Now that "The Happening" is approaching the end of its domestic relevance, those numbers actually hold some meaning. But I digress: on with the box office bullets.

  • Will Smith's "Hancock," hot topic around these parts, took home the July 4th title. You may have noticed people getting pretty hot and bothered about this in pretty much every venue where box office results are discussed. "Hancock" is Smith's eighth consecutive #1-opening, which seems pretty incredible, right? But personally, I'm not buying the whole "Hancock" is an amazing success angle. Some fat to chew on: there were no other major releases this week, so Smith was unchallenged. While the film's Weds-Sun total was over $100 mil, the actual 3-day total was just okay, and actually failed to out perform last year's "Transformers," which opened the same weekend. It also failed to beat out "War of the Worlds" and "Spider Man 2," which both also opened on Independence Days past. And finally (although if I wanted to pile on more, I probably could), "Hancock's" per screen numbers ($15,789) were actually worse than "The Incredible Hulk" ($15,810), which everyone is more or less calling a failure, and "Wanted" ($16,040), but no one seems to be racing to call James McAvoy a box office wunderkind. All three made more than one third less than "Iron Man," with his per screen of over $24,000. Was "Hancock" a success, sure. Was it an Oh-My-God-Lets-All-Kiss-Will-Smith's-Ass success? No. No it wasn't.
  • Despite a sizable, although not huge, drop-off this week, "Wall-E" was still able to maintain the number two spot. It's looking unlikely though that "Wall-E" is going to surpass even the moderate success of "Ratatouille." At $132 mil in two weeks, it's going to take some serious world-wide production to keep "Wall-E" in the same ballpark of success as previous Pixar productions. Obviously, it's only June, but from the universal praise being heaped upon the little robot epic (including here), it's not out of the question to see some serious Oscar buzz build up as we get into the winter. "Ratatouille" took a shot at the big prize, but maybe "Wall-E's" politics will be the thing to finally put Pixar over the top in that liberal-pinko-nirvana called Hollywood. An end of the year re-release into theaters could help "Wall-E" pad the bottom line a little as we head into 2009.
  • "Wanted" fell off hard this past weekend to the tune of a 60 percent drop over its opening. That's just not good in any way shape or form. Then again, a lot of movies have been falling that hard: "Hulk," "The Happening," and even "The Love Guru" dropped by 60 percent or more in their second weeks (the latter is all the more amazing because it did so poorly its first week, you'd think it couldn't possibly have dropped any lower). Then again, it's the summer, and every damn week has a couple releases, so it may be a little silly to think that any one movie could capture the populace's attention very long.
  • The aforementioned "Happening" dropped out of the top ten this week after a solid run, making this the first weekend since May 23-25 with no horror in the top ten.

Next up: "Hellboy 2," which I'm quite excited about. If you haven't seen the first "Hellboy," well, it's probably not that important. Ron Perlman plays a bad-ass demon-guy who was brought to Earth in some crazy Nazi experiment or something and then gets turned into a superhero/crime fighter by the U.S. government. He's got some sweet weapons and he fights against other whacked-out demons. There's really no shortage of demons running around, and they're all designed by Guillermo Del Toro or one of his buddies. If this is your type of thing, you'll probably enjoy it. The box office prospects are a lot harder to predict. "Hellboy"-the-first was definitely an under performer, although critics generally didn't hate it. The sequel could actually benefit from Del Toro's improved street cred, and high levels of nerd-dom excitement.

One thing's for sure, there won't be a ton of direct competition: "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is definitely being marketed to a younger audience, and "Meet Dave" is definitely only being marketed to the developmentally disabled. There is certainly the possibility that after "Hancock," "Wanted," "The Incredible Hulk," and "Iron Man," audiences might be ready for a couple weeks off from comic book/superhero mayhem, but only time will tell.

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