August 2009 Archives


Which of these summer 2009 blockbusters (the five highest-grossing movies of the year so far) is your favorite?

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district-9.jpgDistrict 9 rightly got a lot of attention. No stars! $30-million production budget! Good special effects! Great reviews! Strong word of mouth! A $37-million opening weekend!

It’s a compelling story, and God knows the movie business needs constant reminders that funding six District 9s can be far more lucrative than bankrolling one G.I. Joe.

Of course, nobody creates the same movie six times. So let’s imagine that instead of spending $175 million to produce G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, a studio decided to make District 9, Julie and Julia ($40 million), Inglouirious Basterds ($70 million), and some piece of shit that cost $35 million and was never released in theaters.

Through August 26, G.I. Joe grossed $123.5 million, Julie and Julia (released the same day, August 7) $62.5 million, District 9 (August 14) $78.5 million, Basterds (August 21) $50.6 million, and Piece of Shit (N/A) $0.0 million. The total box office to date for our quartet: $191.6 million, or 55 percent more than G.I. Joe. And remember that none of our movies has been out longer than Joe, and that the widest release (Basterds) was in 21 percent fewer theaters than Joe at its peak.

In our Box Office Power Rankings, Julie and Julia won in its debut weekend, while District 9 did the same and then held off Basterds to retain its crown.

Yet even though District 9 is a great success story, one has to give credit to those other two films. They might have bigger budgets, actual stars, and familiar directors, but they are seriously hard sells compared to the alien-ghetto premise of Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi movie.

Continue reading for the full rankings and methodology.

Polanski’s obtuse ‘Repulsion’ mines fear of rape, men, abandonment. 1 great shock & effective spatial horror, but male POV leers and muddles

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hangover.jpgIn nine weekends of release, The Hangover has finished in second place seven times in the Box Office Power Rankings. This past weekend, The Hangover passed Star Trek’s $254 million — which means it’s playing with the big boys.

It will gross less domestically than Transformers, Up, and Harry Potter, and its reviews were not as strong as Up, Potter, Trek, or Drag Me to Hell. But it’s the movie of the summer because it’s had great legs over a long period of time.

In their ninth weekends, Up and Star Trek were out of the box-office top 10. The Hangover was in eighth place with $5.2 million.

This past weekend, its third, Harry Potter grossed $17.9 million. The Hangover in its third: $26.8 million.

Compare The Hangover hanging around to the moment of Brüno, whose buzz lasted weeks longer than the post-release cultural conversation.

As for Harry Potter, it’s telling that with relatively weak late-summer competition, the boy wizard only managed a tie for first in his third weekend. The movie will likely end up the second-highest-grossing Potter flick (behind Sorcerer’s Stone), but I don’t sense much enthusiasm.

Continue reading for the methodology and the full rankings.