There was something of a question mark going into the weekend: Would the feel-good romantic comedy ‘Morning Glory’ be the box office victor or would Tony Scott’s instantly-underrated runaway train thriller ‘Unstoppable’ take the top slot? A lesser writer would make this into an asinine “battle of the sexes” type piece. There are plenty of young men my age who were looking forward to ‘Morning Glory’. (Harrison Ford stars, J.J. Abrams produces, Rachel McAdams looks adorable.) And there were plenty of women in the opening night audience of ‘Unstoppable’ when I saw the film in Connecticut on Friday. “All right already,” you’re saying. “Which won?” Well, read on to find out.
‘Unstoppable‘ ultimately proved stoppable at the box office, raking up a healthy $23.5 million over the weekend, which wasn’t even enough for the #1 slot (it did, however, secure the second place). This movie has a lot going for it, and is easily Scott’s best work in ages. It’s a slickly-rendered, finely-tuned action piece that plays like ‘The Wages of Fear‘ cranked up to 11, with some very colorful filters and editorial tics. What’s more, the movie has a lot of stuff going on thematically that mass audiences can easily connect to: a large corporation distancing itself from an environmental catastrophe (BP, anyone?), blue collar workers facing redundancies at work and troubles at home, and a wonderfully simplistic metaphor at its heart – that sometimes, shit gets away from us. I really loved this movie. There will certainly be folks claiming that the release of the über-selling ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ (which is targeted at the same thrill-junkie young males) had an impact on the overall box office. But maybe, after the gamers have climbed out of their basement dwellings, they’ll go to the theater and see this, because it kicks all sorts of ass.
Still, it wasn’t enough to usurp last week’s winner, ‘Megamind‘, which was again this week’s biggest champion with an additional $26 million. To which I say: Ewwwww….
Somewhat surprisingly, ‘Morning Glory‘ (which I still haven’t seen) came in at #5. It fell behind crass road comedy ‘Due Date‘ (down 54%, still $16.5 million strong), and the debut of funky/horrible alien invasion flick ‘Skyline‘ ($14 million). ‘Glory’ came up with $14 million, which is still respectable, but far from the big hit that some predicted. I’m not sure what the problem was, besides the somewhat elliptical and older-skewing advertising campaign. Also, these days, unless he’s got a whip and a fedora, Harrison Ford can’t open a movie to save his life. (Anyone remember ‘Hollywood Homicide’?) However, this could gather momentum thanks to strong word of mouth and end up being a sleeper hit. But it has a huge roadblock next week in the form of ‘Love and Other Drugs’, which looks to be going after the same sophisticated rom-com audience. (Although that film has a darker strain of drama that ribbons throughout the fluffier moments.)
The rest of the list is pretty business-as-usual.
‘The Social Network‘ finally dropped out of the Top 10. This weekend, I was waiting to go into another movie at the Sony Screening Room in Manhattan, but there was a picture already playing. When I asked somebody what it was, I was told that it was a ‘Social Network’ screening for Academy voters. The heat, as Glenn Frey would say, is on.
The Top 10:
01 ‘Megamind’ (Dream Works Animation/Paramount) – $26 million
02 ‘Unstoppable’ (Fox) – $23.5 million
03 ‘Due Date’ (Warner Bros) – $16 million
04 ‘Skyline’ (Relativity/Universal) – $12 million
05 ‘Morning Glory’ (Paramount) – $12 million
06 ‘For Colored Girls (Lionsgate) – $6.8 million
07 ‘RED’ (Summit) – $5 million
08 ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ (Paramount) – $3 million
09 ‘Saw 3D’ (Lionsgate) – $2.9 million
10 ‘Jackass 3D’ (Paramount) – $2.3 million