'Everybody's Fine' is anything but
Dec. 7 update: John Lee Hancock's The Blind Side and Chris Weitz's The Twilight Saga: New Moon were the two top movies at the domestic box office this past weekend, Dec. 4–6, 2009 – with the sentimental Sandra Bullock star vehicle finally surpassing the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson-Taylor Lautner interspecies love triangle. At the other end of the scale, Kirk Jones' Everybody's Fine was a major disappointment.
Directed by Kirk Jones and starring two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro (Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather: Part II, 1974; Best Actor for Raging Bull, 1980), Everybody's Fine raked in a mere $3.85 million – or $1,806 per screen at no. 10 on the domestic chart.
Everybody's Fine is a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 melodrama, with Robert De Niro in the old Marcello Mastroianni role: a widower who travels cross-country to meet with his children. Drew Barrymore, Melissa Leo, and Kate Beckinsale co-star.
Also worth noting, at no. 21 David and Scott Hillenbrand's Transylmania, in which a group of college students drink, party, and get murdered with equal ease, was a total disaster, grossing $264,000 – or a horrendous $262 per screen.
George Clooney star vehicle 'Up in the Air' performing strongly
Among the newcomers and “expanders,” as found at boxofficemojo.com the weekend's one real success story was Up in the Air, which pulled in $1.18 million at no. 13, or more than $78,763 per site at 15 theaters.
Jason Reitman's socially conscious comedy-drama stars George Clooney as a frequent-flying corporate downsizer who falls in love with fellow frequent-flyer Vera Farmiga right when he's about to get grounded. New Moon actress likely Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick co-stars.
Both Clooney and Up in the Air have already been chosen as Best of 2009 by the National Board of Review (Clooney tied in the Best Actor category with Morgan Freeman for Invictus) and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association.
George Clooney voice vehicle 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' disappoints
Nov. 30 update: Entering the Top Ten this weekend, Nov. 27–29, was Wes Anderson's generally well-received stop-motion feature Fantastic Mr. Fox, which earned a weak $6.96 million. Total to date: $10.1 million.
Based on a Roald Dahl novel, Fantastic Mr. Fox opened strongly at four locations two weekends ago, collecting $199,142. But it doesn't seem at all likely that Anderson's effort will be able to recover its reported $40 million budget at the domestic box office.
International prospects are unclear, though Fantastic Mr. Fox is performing quite strongly in the U.K., where it opened with $2.47 million in late October.
'The Road' performs modestly & 'Planet 51' bombs
Also opening in limited release this weekend was John Hillcoat's The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron as two of the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic Earth. The modest performer finished in tenth place, with a weekend gross of $1.5 million at 111 venues.
The Sony Pictures-distributed, $70 million-budget commercial flop Planet 51, on its second weekend out, collected $10.21 million at 3,035 locations. Total to date: $28.48 million.
Directed by Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad, and Marcos Martínez, the animated adventure follows an astronaut who ends up getting trapped on a distant planet. The English-language voice cast of this Spanish/British/U.S. co-production includes Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, Seann William Scott, and John Cleese.
Planet 51 will likely have better luck at the international box office. In Spain, it opened with a not inconsiderable $4.34 million over the weekend.
'2012' tops late 2009 box office
Nov. 16 update: A Sony Pictures release, Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic actioner 2012 topped the U.S. and Canada box office this weekend, Nov. 13–15, with a solid $65.23 million from 3,404 locations.
As found at Box Office Mojo, 2012 scored $19,165 per theater, while easily surpassing the $35.8 million opening gross of Emmerich's previous film, 10,000 B.C.
The weekend's other wide release, Pirate Radio a.k.a. The Boat That Rocked landed at no. 11, with a measly $2.9 million from 882 locations. Directed by Richard Curtis, the comedy follows a group of DJs broadcasting rock 'n' roll songs from a boat in the North Sea.
In the Pirate Radio cast:
And finally, Precious was a major surprise at no. 4, collecting an impressive $6 million at only 174 locations. In the cast of Lee Daniels' dysfunctional family drama: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, and Mariah Carey.
'A Christmas Carol' tops pre-Thanksgiving box office chart – but is a domestic disappointment all the same
Nov. 8: As expected, Walt Disney's A Christmas Carol landed in the no. 1 spot at the U.S. and Canada box office this weekend, Nov. 6–8, with a disappointing – in relation to its reported $200 million budget – $30.05 million as per Box Office Mojo.
Starring Jim Carrey as Scrooge, the Robert Zemeckis-directed 3D motion-capture fantasy based on Charles Dickens' classic opened at 3,683 locations, scoring $8,159 per theater.
At no. 2, the Michael Jackson concert documentary This Is It delivered another solid performance, earning $13.15 million at 3,481 locations. Sony's Kenny Ortega-directed rockumentary has brought in an impressive $57.01 million to date.
Most of the film's footage was shot in June 2009 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and at The Forum in Inglewood (also in L.A. County).
George Clooney & Milla Jovovich open modestly
New entry The Men Who Stare at Goats opened in third place with a modest $12.7 million from 2,443 sites. There's no chance Grant Heslov's military parody will be able to recover its also modest $25 million budget at the domestic box office. In the cast: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey.
Following at no. 4 with $12.23 million was another commercially disappointing new release, Olatunde Osunsanmi's The Fourth Kind. The sci-fi thriller stars Milla Jovovich as a psychologist treating mentally unstable patients in a small Alaskan town.
Faring worse was Richard Kelly's The Box, which debuted in sixth place, with a dismal $7.57 million from 2,635 venues. In the $30 million horror thriller Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a couple facing a tough choice – $1 million vs. a stranger's death – after they're handed a mysterious wooden box, courtesy of Frank Langella.
Ahead of The Box was Paranormal Activity, which added $8.27 million for an excellent $97.1 million domestic total. The sleeper horror hit – reportedly budgeted at only $15,000 (obviously not including the sizable amount spent on its marketing) – is currently playing at 2,558 sites.
'Precious' has valuable debut
At no. 7, the Vince Vaughn-Jason Bateman comedy Couples Retreat collected $6.12 million, reaching a cume of $95.68 million. Next in line, F. Gary Gray's Law Abiding Citizen, starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx, earned $6 million. Total to date: $60.7 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten, Spike Jonze's fantasy adventure and box office disappointment Where the Wild Things Are brought in $4.17 million at no. 9 ($69.22 million total), while Summit Entertainment's animated feature Astro Boy raked in $2.62 million ($15.11 million total).
Also noteworthy was the solid debut of Lee Daniels' urban drama Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, which scored $1.8 million at only 18 theaters.
Gone from the Top Ten were the following box office disappointments: the horror flicks Saw VI and The Stepfather; Mira Nair's Amelia, starring Hilary Swank as aviatrix Amelia Earhart; and Paul Weitz's Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, featuring Chris Massoglia, Josh Hutcherson, Jessica Carlson, and John C. Reilly.
Robert De Niro Everybody's Fine image: Miramax Films.
Jim Carrey A Christmas Carol image: Walt Disney Studios.