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Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum Charms + Mel Gibson Bombs

Shirtless Channing Tatum Dear JohnShirtless Channing Tatum in Dear John.
  • Early 2010 box office: Featuring Amanda Seyfried and a shirtless Channing Tatum, Dear John has dethroned Avatar while Mel Gibson’s comeback has turned out to be a costly box office dud.
  • The Oscar nominations announcement has boosted the box office performances of only a handful of “small” movies.

Box office: Starring Amanda Seyfried & Channing Tatum, the romantic melodrama Dear John has dethroned Avatar

Feb. 5–7 weekend: Starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, Lasse Hallström’s romantic tearjerker Dear John topped the domestic box office this past weekend, collecting a surprising $30.5 million (though about $2 million below estimates) according to studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

Budgeted at a reported $25 million, screenwriter Jamie Linden’s adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel about star-crossed lovers kept apart by wars, terrorists, and tears, Dear John scored $10,262 per theater at 2,969 locations.

Reviews have generally been anything but positive, but perhaps moviegoers who read Nicholas Sparks don’t read film critics.

Besides Channing Tatum as a (at times shirtless) hunky soldier and Amanda Seyfried as his dainty paramour, Dear John also features Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas, D.J. Cotrona, and Cullen Moss.

Most weekends at no. 1: Avatar vs. Titanic

For seven consecutive weekends the no. 1 movie in the U.S. and Canada, this past weekend Avatar trailed Dear John at a distant second, scoring $22.9 million from 3,000 locations.

James Cameron’s environmentally conscious mix of science-fiction, action, and fantasy was down 25 percent compared to a week ago. This steeper than usual drop – Avatar has usually lost 10–20 percent of its business each passing week – may be partly explained by Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Now, how does Avatar’s staying power compare to that of James Cameron’s previous blockbuster, Titanic?

Twelve years ago, the eventual Best Picture Academy Award winner remained at the top of the domestic chart for a total of 15 weekends. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starred as star-crossed lovers kept apart by class, iceberg, and frigid waters.

Can James Cameron’s 3D epic return to the top of the chart?

It remains to be seen how well Dear John will keep up in the coming days. And that means inveterate Avatarites shouldn’t despair too much, as the 3D fantasy adventure may recoup its top position in the near future.

But the again, maybe it is time for screams of despair and gritting of teeth.

Next weekend, even if Dear John ends up as flat as Channing Tatum’s stomach, the Na’vi will have to contend with the following newcomers:

  • Garry Marshall’s romantic something-or-other Valentine’s Day, featuring an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, 2000), Bradley Cooper, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Alba;
  • Chris Columbus’ fantasy adventure Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, with Logan Lerman and Pierce Brosnan;
  • Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, with Benicio Del Toro and Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991).

After 52 days, Avatar has earned $630 million in the U.S. and Canada. In the cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, and three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver.

From Paris with Love Jonathan Rhys MeyersFrom Paris with Love with Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Limp Travolta-Meyers thriller

At no. 3 this past weekend, new entry From Paris with Love brought in a mere $8.2 million. Pierre Morel’s (reportedly) $52 million thriller is playing at 2,722 venues, averaging a mediocre $2,997 per theater.

For comparison’s sake: A year ago, Morel’s thriller Taken, starring Liam Neeson, debuted with $24.7 million in North America. It went on to gross $145 million domestically.

In the From Paris with Love cast: Two-time Oscar nominee John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever, 1977; Pulp Fiction, 1994), The Tudors star Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Kasia Smutniak.

Oscar nominations’ box office boost – if any

Also this past weekend, the 2010 Oscar nominations announcement coupled with an increase in the number of screens have, in varying degrees, helped – smaller – movies as diverse as:

  • Best Actor nominee Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart: $3.6 million (up 55 percent); 580 added venues.
  • Best Actress nominee Carey Mulligan’s An Education: $763,000 (up 540 percent); 686 added venues.
  • Best Actor nominee Colin Firth’s A Single Man: $627,000 (up 13 percent); 137 added venues.
  • Best Actress nominee Gabourey Sidibe’s Precious: $474,000 (up 120 percent); 447 added venues.
  • Best Actress nominee Helen Mirren’s The Last Station: $336,000 (up 297 percent); 42 added venues.
  • Michael Haneke’s Best Foreign Language Film nominee The White Ribbon: $126,000 (up 8 percent); 4 added venues.

As for the other Oscar-nominated titles, the announcement seems to have made no noticeable difference.

Starring Best Actress nominee Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side lost 11 locations and collected $2.5 million (down 14 percent) at no. 11. Featuring three nominees in the acting categories (George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick), Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air added 117 screens but took in only $2.3 million (down 19 percent) at no. 12.

Featuring acting nominees Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood’s sports drama Invictus added 52 theaters, but grossed a mere $227,000 at no. 28 (down 16 percent).

Also down were the aforementioned Avatar (up for Best Picture/Best Director), The Princess and the Frog, Sherlock Holmes, The Young Victoria, The Lovely Bones (featuring supporting actor nominee Stanley Tucci), and Nine (featuring supporting actress nominee Penélope Cruz). Some of these titles had drop-off rates above 40 percent.

Mel Gibson Edge of DarknessMel Gibson in Edge of Darkness.

Mel Gibson comeback fizzles

Jan. 29–31 box office: Mel Gibson’s comeback vehicle Edge of Darkness trailed holdover Avatar at a distant second, earning a disappointing $17.2 million. Some had been predicting higher figures – in the $20–$22 million range.

At 3,066 locations, Edge of Darkness averaged $5,584 per screen – a so-so figure for a mid-level release and a dismal one for a movie reportedly budgeted at $80 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses). An unpleasant controversy surely hasn’t helped matters any.

An adaptation of Troy Kennedy-Martin’s 1985 BBC miniseries about a detective tracking down those responsible for his daughter’s brutal murder (shades of Death Wish, Taken, etc.), Edge of Darkness is Gibson’s first star vehicle since M. Night Shyamalan’s 2002 horror sci-fier Signs.

Directed by Martin Campbell, Edge of Darkness also features Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, and Bojana Novakovic.

Update: Mel Gibson’s comeback vehicle turned out to be a worldwide dud; Edge of Darkness ultimately grossed $43.3 million domestically and $37.8 million internationally, for a grand total of $81.1 million.

Harrison Ford has worst (inflation-adjusted) debut

Jan. 22–24 box office: At no. 8 on the domestic weekend box office chart, Tom Vaughan’s Extraordinary Measures opened with a dismal $6 million.

Starring Harrison Ford – he of blockbusters like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Witness, and Clear and Present Danger – Brendan Fraser, and Keri Russell, the (reportedly) $31 million real-life-based medical drama averaged a meager $2,358 at 2,549 sites.

Taking inflation into account, Extraordinary Measures happens to have suffered the worst opening weekend ever of a Harrison Ford movie in wide release. Ford’s previous first-weekend nadir, Sydney Pollack’s romantic comedy Sabrina, debuted with $5.6 million (about $9.5 million today) at 1,821 locations in December 1995.

Update: An all-around commercial disaster, Extraordinary Measures ultimately grossed $12.1 million domestically and $3 million internationally (likely incomplete), for a grand total of $15.1 million.


“Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum Charms + Mel Gibson Bombs” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via various sources, including BOM.

Comments about a movie being profitable or a money-loser at the box office are based on the available data about its production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production budget), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that contractual details and data regarding pre-sales, rebates, and other credits that help to split/alleviate production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is accounted for).

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office gross at top-priced theaters.

Channing Tatum Dear John image: Scott Garfield | Relativity Media | Screen Gems.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers From Paris with Love image: Lionsgate.

Mel Gibson Edge of Darkness image: Warner Bros.

“Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum Charms + Mel Gibson Bombs” last updated in April 2022.

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