Monday, May 09, 2005

Monday morning QB(O)ing 05/09/05...

Hollywood, even 21st Century Fox’s competitor, must be praying that the upcoming Revenge of the Sith—ah, Lucas finally got his ‘revenge’ into a Star Wars title—is a blockbuster. This weekend represented the 10th week in a row in which ticket sales were down from last year.

Achieving a pyrrhic victory at the box office was Ridley Scott’s latest historical epic Kingdom of Heaven. Audiences stayed away, despite being assured by critics that (whew) the film was not mean to Muslims. Which, I’m sure, was the prospective ticket buyer’s greatest concern.

Even so, the $140 million pic drew a tepid critical response, with a 41% positive review ratio as compiled by Rottentomatoes.com. Although that was significantly better than competitor House of Wax’s 22% positive rating, it’s not that much better considering the latter is a cheapie slasher flick co-starring Paris Hilton.

Moreover, even Kingdom’s positive review were generally lukewarm. For instance, the Entertainment Weekly review is marked as positive, but the pull quote announces the film to be “a handsome but curiously remote Crusades epic.” Not exactly a glowing recommendation. The most fervid praise, meanwhile, came from critics who lauded the idea of the film as a critique of our current war in Iraq.

Opening extremely wide, Kingdom of Heaven looted a lame $20 million, and about $6,200 per screen. With Star Wars coming soon, expect this one to be gone quickly, undoubtedly with having made under $50 million total in domestic box office. However, it should also do significantly better overseas, which is why we keep getting historical epics even though nearly all the recent ones have done terribly at the U.S. box office (Alexander, King Arthur, etc.).

As a sign of the general box office woes, the number two film, House of Wax, did not much better than half of Kingdom of Heaven’s lackluster take. The movie barely made a pair of fins, raking in just over $12 million dollars, and drawing under $4,000 per screen. This might indicate that the incredibly glut of horror fare lately has finally over saturated market demand. Then again, almost every horror flick out this year has sucked, so it may just be a quality issue. Then too, the atypically gruesome film’s unexpectedly bad performance may indicate that PG-13 horror films are still the ones most likely to draw larger audiences.

The sci-fi comedy Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy shows early signs of thumb fatigue, with its take tumbling 57% to just over $9 million. That puts the current total take around $35 million. They must be hoping that the cult fans make the flick a significant DVD success.

The well-reviewed crime drama Crash took forth place, with a tad over $9 million dollars. The Interpreter saw it’s ticket sales drop 46%, to about $7.5 million, with a $54 million total so far. Sixth place went to XXX: State of the Union, which doesn’t look to get the series reelected to cinema screens. Falling nearly 60%, the film drew a less than explosive $5.4 million, for a $21 million take so far. Given the film’s $87 million dollar budget, along with other costs, this is one of the year’s worst flops so far.

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