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2010 Per Screen Weekend Average

Film Open Theaters Box Office Average
The King’s Speech 11/26/10 4 $355,450.00 $88,863.00
Black Swan 12/3/10 18 $1,443,809.00 $80,212.00
The Kids Are All Right 7/9/10 7 $491,971.00 $70,282.00
127 Hours 11/5/10 4 $264,851.00 $66,213.00
The King’s Speech (2) 11/26/10 6 $324,515.00 $54,086.00

All numbers from Box Office Mojo. All half-assed analysis from myself

Updated with final box office figures 12/6

This weekend, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (review) made arguably the most impressive opening of any limited release of 2010. Its $80,212.00 per screen average is only 2nd best to the $88,863 notched last weekend by The King’s Speech (review), but it happened on 18 screens compared to the latter’s more concentrated 4 locations. For its part, Speech held impressively and claims the 5th best per screen average ($54,086 per) on six screens in its second weekend. It remains to be seen how either film will do outside of big cities, but if I were a betting man (and I am), I’d wager that it’ll be smooth sailing for The King’s Speech between the coasts while the more challenging Black Swan will ultimately appeal to a narrower audience.

I’ve been tracking 127 Hours over the last several weekends and I still can’t tell if it’s fading in limited release before it ever gets a chance to come to life or if the embers are still hot and just waiting to be doused with Oscar and marketing fuel. It added 140 screens (bringing its total to 433) and pulled in  $1.6 million which represents a tiny 6.4% drop from last weekend. That’s only a $3,739 estimated per screen average, but that’s better than Fair Game ($2,404 per) or For Colored Girls ($916 per), two films on a similar number of screens also in their 5th week of release.

In wide release, The Warrior’s Way had the worst opening this year of any film on more than 1000 screens in terms of total box office and the 2nd worst in terms of per screen average despite not having any new competition. The barely advertised and unreviewed film went out on 1,622 screens where it only managed $3.05 million or $1,880 per screen.  That’s almost a million worse than MacGruber’s opening $4,043,495, though not as bad as that film’s $1,585 per screen average on 2,551 screens. It should be noted that the budget of The Warrior’s Way is estimated at $42 million compared to only $10 million for MacGruber. That puts Warrior’s in similar bomb territory to Jonah Hex which cost $47 million, opened on 2,825 screens with $5.4 million and ultimately earned a mere $10.5 million after 8 weeks in release. On the bright side, Relativity Media saved a lot of money on advertising!

In movie-watching news, I was inspired by Black Swan to sit down with The Red Shoes this weekend. I thought it might inform Aronofsky’s film in some way, but beyond the ballet and the theme of obsession, comparisons between the two films are not very fruitful. There is a POV shot when Natalie Portman is spinning (or whatever it is you call it in ballet) that seems like a nod to the Powell/Pressburger film, but that’s about it (don’t even get me started on the stupid comparisons I’ve heard to Showgirls). Of course The Red Shoes is a terrific film all by itself and that’s the important thing. The extended fantasy/dance sequence remains a knockout and looks great on Criterion Blu-ray for those of you keeping score at home.

In theaters, I finally caught up with Charles Ferguson’s financial meltdown documentary Inside Job. It’s probably not the most entertaining documentary of the year nor is it the most illuminating but it’s the most infuriating and possibly the most important. I’ll have more to say about it later, but suffice it to say for now it does a terrific job of putting a complex puzzle together and communicating it in a clear, coherent and compelling way. A quick glance at the tiny number of negative reviews shows a certain frustration among critics that the film doesn’t indict any single criminal, but those complaints miss the point of the film entirely. It’s not individuals who are on trial here, it’s an entire economic system and the verdict can be nothing other than guilty.

In a little housekeeping matter, I’ve updated Living in Cinema‘s About page for the first time in a couple of years. I think it’s a good enough explanation for new readers what it is I’m trying to accomplish here and an update for the long-timers reflecting how Living in Cinema’s mission has changed over time.

That’s enough jibber jabber from me. Now it’s your turn to let us know what you’ve been doing movie-wise since last weekend.

9 Responses to “Watercooler: Black Swan spreads its wings in limited release. Warrior’s What? Plus: catching up with Inside Job”

  1. I was almost worried that you were going to badmouth The Red Shoes, Craig, with the phrasing of that first paragraph where it’s mentioned. Not the case, of course (because who could not love that movie?), but you had me there for a second. Black Swan hasn’t opened yet in Phoenix (you know, the fifth-biggest city in the country, and no, I’m not bitter, I swear), but I am eager to check it out.

    The wife and I went to see Tangled in 3D. I liked Tangled, but as I detailed in a review on my blog (shameless plug, I apologize), compared with last year’s Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel has an antagonist-driven goal, as opposed to just a personal goal. In essence, she’s a more passive lead than Tiana (or Ariel or Pinocchio, to name a couple of other Disney leads) was, and that made me only end up liking the movie. The animation was very well-done, and it was mostly entertaining, but aside from Donna Murphy’s stellar performance and her big song, not a lot to write home about.

    Also, I finally got around to seeing Hunger today (Tangled and Hunger in one weekend; I live a wild life of filmgoing, apparently), and while the lengthy conversation that takes place in one shot in the middle of the film was electrifying (and Michael Fassbender was excellent), I found that, as a movie, the movie didn’t work as well as I’d wanted it to. I know so little about the Troubles, as they’re known, and while I didn’t demand a history lesson, the storytelling was a bit too fractured for my tastes. Having said that, the film was technically very impressive and Fassbender’s transformation was both harrowing and amazing to behold.

  2. I owe my friend Marilyn Ferdinand an apology. Mind you, I don’t think I said anything that could remotely be considered as insulting, but in a comment I made under her ultimately telling review of Darren Aronofsky’s colossal misfire, Black Swan, I “implied” before I actually watched the film that her views were in an extreme minority in critical circles. As I have placed Aronofsky on a pedestal since 2006 (the year his spectacular The Fountain released) I was hopeful lightening would strike twice, and Marilyn’s near-pan had me heartbroken and in a state of denial. Alas, Black Swan was (as I stated in my comment) a “thinly veiled (exploitative) genre piece, that failed to connect emotionally, resorting to slasher flick grotesqueries, jarring and scattered hand held camera tricks, and an unforgivable trivializing of one of music’s most glorious compositions by one of the form’s most beloved composers. Aronofsky has sunk lower than he ever has, and I am frankly aghast at the reactions of those who are finding metaphorical value, in this vapid and pretentious film. I simply cannot come to terms with the fact that this is the same artist who created The Fountain.

    I managed to see four films in theatres this week (actually six, if you count two rare “repeats” to accomodate a freiend and a cousin.

    Black Swan ** (Saturday night) Chelsea Cinemas

    Woman in the Dunes ***** (Saturday Afternoon) Takemitsu Festival

    The Ceremony ***** (Sunday evening) Takemitsu Festival

    Antonio Gaudi (Sunday evening) Takemitsu Festival

    My less-than-enthused reaction to BLACK SWAN appears above in Paragraph 2. I am hoping others see it over the coming weeks, so we can heighten some worthwhile discussion.

    The Toru Takemitsu Festival at the Film Forum, which is running for two weeks, pays tribute to Japan’s most celebrated (and accomplished) film composer, and the many masterpieces in the festival (directed by the likes of Kurosawa, Teshigahara, Shinoda, Ichikawa, and Kobayashi among others) represnt Takemitsu’s most venerated scores. It’s a great catalyst at ant rate and a programming coup for Film Forum head honcho Bruce Goldstein, who includes the heavy hitters with some hard-to-find prints of a few films not yt released on DVD. Hiroshi Teshigahara’s extraordinary Woman in the Dunes was a great choice to launch the event, and the follow-up double feature on Sunday of another Teshigahara film, Antonio Gaudi, and Oshima’s most beloved film, The Ceremony gave this festival quite a second day boost. Lamentably, I couldn’t make the one screening of the rare Kobayashi film Youth of Japan (1968), which played later on Saturday night, as it occupied a time slot that I had reserved for Black Swan. Still, I am figuring to see about a dozen films in total during the duration of this festival’s run, inluding viewings later this week of The Face of Another, Pitfall, Pale Flower, Harakiri, Samurai Rebellion, Kwaidan, Empire of Passion and Ran. Many of us of course have seen these films multiple times on DVD, but it’s always a special treat to see them on the big screen.

  3. Which part confused you? Did it wound like I was saying Red Shoes wasn’t as good as Black Swan somehow?

    I should reword it. My only point was that comparing the two is sort of pointless. I’d watched Red Shoes looking for a connection and I don’t think there really is one.

    More later. I’m trying to fix how my blog works on goddamn Safari (mumblemumble)

  4. I spent Friday packing, Saturday moving and unpacking, and Sunday further unpacking my Grandfather into an assisted living facility this weekend, so I have nothing to offer here other than kudos to those of you who found time for the cinema.

    This weekend culminates (hopefully) a long process that began for me last Summer when my Grandmother was injured in a fall and ended up in a nursing home. It has consumed most of my weekends in the last 4+ months and while I’m personally very humbled to do this (arguably very comparatively small) duty for two people who have supported me my entire life, I will be personally happy to have (hopefully) stabilized their situation and potentially moved us all on to the next step. Honestly, spending all my weekends two hours from home, staying at my Mother’s, has become exceedingly tiring.

    My only advice: Don’t grow old. If you do, be prepared to have either a sizable income to fall back on and/or a cadre of dedicated folks to help you out. Cuz the world at large preys on seniors and health care is ridic. I know that’s depressing, but its true, and worth preparing for while you have still have time.

    That’s all I got for the WC. I hope to see Black Swan soon.

  5. I’d wager that it’ll be smooth sailing for The King’s Speech between the coasts while the more challenging Black Swan will ultimately appeal to a narrower audience.

    Maybe so, Craig, but my two female cousins in their late 20s, whose taste is not sophisticated by any means, have been anxiously awaiting this film for many weeks.

    My own moviegoing consisted of 127 Hours, which I loved, and — on TCM — a curious but charming comedy from 1947 titled It Happened on 5th Avenue. (Sort of bargain basement Frank Capra.)

  6. ” I thought it might inform Aronofsky’s film in some way, but…”

    Just the phrasing there made me think you might knock the film. Anyway, you didn’t, so it’s all good.

  7. Joel, you mean growing old isn’t like UP at all? Bummer.

    Pierre, they may be looking forward to it, but I’ll be curious to hear what they thought and what they tell their friends. Keep me posted.

    127 Hours is some good shit. Franco is fantastic.

    Sam the only explanation I can come up with is that we saw two totally different films when it comes to Black Swan. To my mind, only the shallowest reading of the film could come away with the thought that it’s exploitative in any way. I’d love to have you elaborate on that statement because I found it an overheated, but pretty sensitive reading of the life arc of a woman.

    Interesting that I connected emotionally with Black Swan but not King’s Speech and you’re just the opposite.

  8. “To my mind, only the shallowest reading of the film could come away with the thought that it’s exploitative.”

    Well Craig, to be perfectly blunt, after I watched the film, I was thinking that those who have deliriously embraced it were doing so with the shallowest of misconceptions. The film (for me) was both frustrating and reliant on slasher film theatrics to draw attention from its failure to consumate this bizarre premise (an obvious throwback to Powell and Pressburger’s THE RED SHOES) but only implying that some shady things were going on in the back rooms. Polanski has done this kind of thing far better, and Aronfsky failed at something that was practically handed to him on a silver platter: wringing emotion from the likes of Tchaikovsky’s ravishing “Swan Lake.” To be sure there were some stunning images and some choreographic brilliance, but this exasperating film is far more tedious, inconclusive and inchesive than it really has a right to be. When one comes away feeling nothing at all for the Portman character, one is inclined to believe this is a cold and distant drama, when it isn’t busy trying to offer up jolting shocks.

    So what of it? The latest numbers at RT show that 86% of the critics like it, with only 14% in the minority. While I am certainly with the naysayers, I can understand precisely what the appeal is here, and you for one have (as always) presented an excellent defense.

    I went in to this film WANTING to like it, and EXPECTING to like it, as Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN is one of my favorite films of recent years. Craig, I am truthfully envious for you love here.

  9. I’m continuing the Black Swan convo on the Black Swan review thread here so people who might come to the film later will more easily be able to pick up the argument.

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