There’s little good to be found in the box office success of 10,000 B.C. (no. 1) over the weekend, except for the faint waft of an imagined warm summer breeze, the typical weather for a Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) release. Each year, Hollywood’s summer season starts a bit earlier, encroaching on—and sometimes enlivening—the cold, seemingly interminable winter months. Perhaps 10,000 B.C. is Hollywood’s way of clearing its throat, of wiping away in one fell swoop the cynicism and hopelessness of this year’s Oscar contenders and, in turn, harkening the beginning of summer, well before the weather will comply, but in compliance with this city’s shivering movie-goers. Will summer numbers follow?
On its way to grossing $35 million nationally, the fantastical prehistoric epic picked up over $437,000 here with a near-$40,000 average at 11 theaters. It easily doubled the gross of its next closest competitor, The Bank Job (no. 2), which did very well in its own right, crossing the $20,000 threshold on 9 screens. Of the Oscar nominees, only Juno (no. 8) and There Will Be Blood (no. 9) managed to stay in the city’s top ten, but each failed to average better than $10,000. Their long hold on the box office is clearly over. Can’t you just smell the blooming flowers?
It was not a good weekend for comedies. Despite losing over 50 percent of its first week gross and dropping two spots, The Other Boleyn Girl (no. 3) still managed to outgross College Road Trip (no. 5), the second Martin Lawrence comedy to be released in the last month, by a cool $30K. Following close behind was the Frances McDormand, Amy Adams throwback Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (no. 6), which by dint of its $16,000-plus average will live on for at least another weekend. The same, however, can’t be said for Semi-Pro (no. 7). It saw a 67 percent decline in receipts over the weekend. That’s downright amateur!
Another byproduct of the early onslaught of summer fare is that critics have increasingly less relevance. Witness Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, a favorite of The Times’ A.O. Scott. It played on one theater here in the city and could not have grossed over $20,000. Things do not look good for the indie vet. But maybe I’m just being paranoid.
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.