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Dear John Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum Dethrones Semi-Naked Na’vi

Shirtless Channing Tatum Dear JohnShirtless Channing Tatum in Dear John: James Cameron’s Avatar finally dethroned. Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, Dear John stars Channing Tatum as a U.S. soldier who, as a result of the war in Afghanistan, is kept apart from his college student paramour (Amanda Seyfried).
  • Dear John box office: Starring Amanda Seyfried and a shirtless Channing Tatum, Lasse Hallström’s romantic melodrama based on a Nicholas Sparks novel has dethroned James Cameron’s mega-blockbuster Avatar in the domestic market.
  • In other box office news, the John Travolta-Jonathan Rhys Meyers thriller From Paris with Love is a bona fide flop, while this year’s Oscar nominations announcement has boosted the box office performances of only a handful of “small” movies.

Dear John box office: Starring comely Amanda Seyfried and beefy Channing Tatum, Lasse Hallström’s romantic melodrama has dethroned Avatar

Feb. 5–7 weekend box office: James Cameron’s 3D futuristic fantasy adventure Avatar is no longer the no. 1 movie at the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office. Enter Screen Gems’ Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried as star-crossed lovers kept apart by wars, terrorists, and tears.

Directed by Oscar nominee Lasse Hallström (My Life As a Dog, 1987), the romantic melodrama opened at 2,969 theaters with a strong $30.5 million (though about $2 million below Sunday estimates) as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com. Avatar came in second with $22.9 million from 3,000 sites.

Budgeted at a reported $25 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), Dear John is based on a 2007 Nicholas Sparks novel inspired by real-life events and by Marcel Pagnol’s stage/film Trilogie Marseillaise (Marius, Fanny, César). The screenplay adaptation was credited to Jamie Linden.

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 seductively shirtless) hunky U.S. soldier and Amanda Seyfried as his dainty paramour/pen pal, Dear John also features Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas, D.J. Cotrona, and Cullen Moss.

Dear John does far better domestically

Update: The Amanda Seyfried-Channing Tatum romance Dear John ultimately collected $80 million domestically and a far more modest $35 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $115 million.

If budget figures are accurate and marketing/distribution expenses were within average for such a relatively modest production, Dear John was an unquestionably profitable venture.

Its top international markets were a trio of English-speaking countries: The United Kingdom/Ireland ($7.9 million), Australia ($4.2 million), and New Zealand (a relatively impressive $3.9 million). Germany was next with $3.2 million.

Avatar PandoraAvatar: Pandora. On the domestic box office chart, the inhabitants (and invaders) of the distant planet of Pandora have been replaced by the inhabitants of the Nicholas Sparks novel Dear John.

Most weekends at no. 1: Avatar vs. Titanic

Until Dear John, Channing Tatum, and Amanda Seyfried spoiled its box office party, Avatar had been the top draw in the U.S. and Canada for seven consecutive weekends.

Compared to a week ago, James Cameron’s environmentally conscious mix of science fiction, action, and fantasy was down 25 percent – a steeper than usual drop that may be partly explained by Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Now, how does Avatar’s staying power compare to that of 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 Avatar return to the top of the domestic 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 could theoretically recover its top position in the near future.

But then 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:

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 (Aliens, 1986; etc.).

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

John Travolta & Jonathan Rhys Meyers thriller From Paris with Love has dismal debut

Trailing Dear John and Avatar this past weekend, Pierre Morel’s From Paris with Love debuted with a paltry $8.2 million from 2,722 venues, averaging a dismal $2,997 per theater. The French-made thriller was reportedly budgeted at $52 million.

For comparison’s sake: A year ago, Morel’s thriller Taken, starring Liam Neeson, opened 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. Adi Hasak was credited for the screenplay from Luc Besson’s screen story.

Update: Pierre Morel’s From Paris with Love ultimately collected $24 million domestically and $28.8 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $52.8 million. That makes it a major box office dud all around. And yet, the thriller was one of 2010’s top French-made hits outside France.

Its top international territories were France (the movie’s de facto “domestic” market, with $2.8 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($2.6 million), South Korea ($2.5 million), Russia/CIS ($2.4 million), and Japan ($2.3 million).

Oscar nominations boost ‘small’ movies’ box office

Also this past weekend, the 2010 Oscar nominations announcement coupled with an increase in the number of screens have, in varying degrees, helped a series of “small” movies in contention:

  • 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.

Directed by Scott Cooper and featuring Best Supporting Actress nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal alongside Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart is easily the title that has received the biggest boost from this year’s awards season buzz.

No influence on ‘bigger’ titles

As for the other – generally bigger-budget – Oscar-nominated movies, the announcement seems to have made no noticeable difference at the domestic box office.

Starring Best Actress nominee and “top box office drawSandra Bullock, John Lee Hancock’s 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 commercially underwhelming 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.


Dear John Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Dear John Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum Dethrones Semi-Naked Na’vi” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Dear John, Avatar, From Paris with Love, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, 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 data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

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

Image of the planet of Pandora in Avatar: Weta | 20th Century Fox.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers From Paris with Love movie image: Lionsgate.

Dear John Box Office: Shirtless Channing Tatum Dethrones Semi-Naked Na’vi” last updated in November 2022.

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