Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Savages and Schadenfreude, Awake a Snoozer

With only one wide release—MGM’s Awake (No. 6)—the box office had a slow weekend, with few, if any, changes either here or nationally in the top five. But that didn’t keep The Savages (No. 8) from making an impression. On two screens in the city, the Tamara Jenkins family drama starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney averaged close to $40,000—a stellar opening for such a slow time.

In the wake of so many dysfunctional Thanksgiving dinners, perhaps receipts were buoyed by people’s desire to see a family more messed up than their own. The film has also certainly been helped by the skillful word-of-mouth and marketing campaign launched by Fox Searchlight—they of Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine fame. Don’t be surprised if this one meets the same Oscar fate—both good and bad.

The horror film Awake failed to scare up any business, barely breaking the all-important $10,000 waterline. The film had to rely on the star-power—and I use that loosely!—of Jessica Alba and Hayden Christensen alone, as it was largely panned and director Joby Harold’s imdb resume is shorter than Harvey Weinstein’s temper. Was somebody asleep when they greenlit this one? Hoo-ah!

Enchanted (No. 1) and No Country for Old Men (No. 2) both managed to avoid steep declines—roughly 36 percent—with the former in its second week and the latter in its fourth. (Hitman (No. 7), with a 54.5 percent slide, had the greatest drop.) Beowulf (No. 3), in its third week, was able to leap-frog over This Christmas (No. 4), in its fourth week, largely because it was playing on three more screens. And American Gangster (No. 5) held strong in its fifth week, which a decent enough segue to a small point: Denzel is getting a lot of attention for this film, and rightly so, but Russell Crowe, a 5’11” Australian, was able to transform himself into a New Jersey jew from the ’70’s without any shtick. Remarkably, it’s one of the great unsung performances of this award’s season.

Julian Schnabel’s critical darling The Diving Bell and the Butterfly—a.k.a. The Devil Wears Prada meets My Left Foot—debuted this week on three screens, one of which belonged to the Angelika, but failed to break into the top ten. With all of the buzz surrounding this one, don’t expect it to go away silently. Not-so-bold prediction: it’ll crack the top ten.

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. Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Savages and Schadenfreude, Awake a Snoozer