Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Rambo Beats the Spartans, Unleashes Nagging Self-Doubt

012808 nielsen photo Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Rambo Beats the Spartans, Unleashes Nagging Self DoubtDespite taking an astronomical dip at the box office, Cloverfield (No. 1) managed to hold on to the top spot here in the city. (Nationally, it wasn’t so lucky, coming in fourth. But then that wasn’t the head of Jebediah Springfield bounding down Main Street, was it?) Meanwhile, Meet the Spartans nabbed the country’s number one ranking, while it only ranked seventh in Manhattan. Maybe we like our action flicks to be smart. But then how to explain Rambo’s (No. 2) success here? And swinging back on the pendulum, how again to explain the fact that Juno, in its eighth week, beat out Spartans here?

OK, we’ll give it a try. In the city, believe it or not, there is still a robust audience for old fashioned pump-the-bad-guys full-of-lead vigilante flicks, even as the politically sensitive places to stage them in are dwindling—Thailand? Burmese rebels? Really? You just can’t stretch them too thin: the plethora of Manhattan man-boys who ran out to see the resurrection of the Sylvester Stallone character explains the Cloverfield drain (that and poor word-of-mouth), the shlockiness of Spartans and the Oscar-fuel behind Juno explains the rest.

Diane Lane’s Untraceable (No. 6) was precisely that, getting lost in the clutter of wide releases and Oscar hopefuls. It did modest business, averaging $18,000 on nine screens. Rex Reed gave it and Ms. Lane’s performance a good review, calling her “lovely and clever,” but isn’t this Ashley Judd territory? Tape that cat fight and watch the tickets fly, boys!

Why, hello, Michael Clayton (No. 10)! Manhattan’s box office couldn’t escape the influence of the Academy Award nominations. Warner Bros., Clayton’s distributors, put this one back in the theaters on the heels of its nomination for best picture Oscar. It averaged under $10,000 here at nine theaters—a bit presumptuous?—which would be a death knell, if this one wasn’t truly dead a week ago. Atonement (No. 8), in its eighth week, and No Country for Old Men (No. 9), in its twelfth, held on strong, both averaging a little over $12,000. But bye-bye, Sweeney Todd. Despite Johnny Depp’s nomination—am I alone in thinking that Helena Bonham Carter’s was the better performance?—the lack of a best picture nod was like a newly sharpened shaving blade to the throat.

012808 nielsen chart web Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Rambo Beats the Spartans, Unleashes Nagging Self Doubt

List of theaters: Paris, Zeigfeld, Oprheum, East 85th St., 86th St. East, 84th St., Lincoln Plaza, 62nd and Broadway, Lincoln Square, Magic Johnson, 72nd St East, Cinemas 1, 2 &3rd Ave, 64th and 2nd , Imaginasian, Manhattan Twin, First and 62nd St., Angelika Film Center, Quad, IFC Center, Film Forum, Village East, Village Seven, Cinema Village, Union Square, Essex, Battery Park 11, Sunshine, 34th Street, Empire, E-Walk, Chelsea, 19th Street East, and Kips Bay.

Manhattan Weekend Box Office: How moviegoers in the multiplexes of middle America choose to spend their ten-spot is probably a big deal in Hollywood. But here in Manhattan, the hottest movies aren’t always the ones making the big bucks nationwide. Using Nielsen numbers for Manhattan theaters alone and comparing them to the performance of the national weekend box office can tell you a lot about our Blue State sensibilities. Or nothing at all! Each Monday afternoon, we will bring you the results.