Box Office Briefs: Russell Brand Is No Dudley, But His Movie Is

Box Office Briefs: Russell Brand Is No Dudley, But His Movie Is

Apr 11, 2011

I thought about it for a few seconds, while watching a trailer during a Friday matinee presentation of Limitless in Culver City.

"This Arthur remake actually looks pretty funny," I thought to myself, while entertaining thoughts of making a last-minute switcharoo of my movie-going choice.

I thought better of it, choosing to stick with the four-week old thriller featuring Bradley Cooper on powerful psychoactive drugs.

To hear friends -- as well as the powerful indicator of the free market -- tell it, I made a wise decision, as Russell Brand's take on Dudley Moore's iconic English drunkard significantly underperformed at the box office, grossing just $12.6 million.

Picked to gross closer to $20 million, Arthur finished second to Universal's Hop, which grossed $21.7 million in its second weekend, largely on the back of Brand's comedic voice talents.

Joe Wright-directed teen-girl-assassin movie Hanna finished in third place, outpacing projections with $12.3 million.

Sony surfer-girl movie Soul Surfer also outclassed expectations, finishing fourth with $11.1 million.

Among four movies opening wide this weekend, James Franco/Natalie Portman R-rated comedy Your Highness bombed, grossing just $9.5 million.

For his part, Franco proved that the charming stoner buzz that he culled in 2008's Pineapple Express has largely worn off, with audiences marking his latest film with a "C-plus" grade, according to survey firm Cinemascore (the classroom equivalent of a "D").

But most of the attention this weekend was on Brand. And you've got to give the guy credit -- he was taking on the signature role of a now-deceased comic, who, in some circles, gets called an icon.

I happen to be somewhat of a Brand fan, having caught one of his live stand-up performances back in 2008 at the Montreal Comedy Festival. The guy comes off as clearly in love with himself, but he has a uniquely subversive take and a charisma index that's off the charts.

I can see why Hollywood wants to break him out, but where does he fit in?

Certainly, his bit role in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a revelation, but Universal's expansion of that womanizing-rocker role into Get Him to the Greek proved to be break-even commercially and unsatisfying creatively.

As for taking on the lovable Moore, Brand is just not that guy; the charming loser who pulls charm out of ordinary looks.

Certainly, animated voice roles have been working for him. Besides Hop, Brand's English verbiage can be heard on another Universal/Illumination hit, last year's Despicable Me

Maybe he should stick to CG cartoons. Just a thought.

With the overall box office down about 6 percent this weekend -- which qualifies as a win, given how bad things have been for the movie biz of late -- Sony's Soul Surfer proved one of the weekend's pleasant surprises.

The movie stars AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany Hamilton, a real-life Hawaiian teenager who lost her arm in a shark attack, but kept on surfing professionally.

Co-starring Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid and Carrie Underwood, Sony marketed this inexpensive movie heavily to Heartland audiences thousands of miles from the coastline.

And moviegoers loved the film, giving it an A-plus Cinemascore grade -- a phenomenon that happens about as frequently as actual shark attacks on humans.

Here's how the top 10 finished compared to our Thursday predictions:

Hop Made: $21.7M We predicted: $23.0M
Arthur Made: $12.6M We predicted: $12.6M
Hanna Made: $12.3M We predicted: $12.3M
Soul Surfer Made: $11.1M We predicted: $11.1M
Insidious Made: $9.7M We predicted: $27.1M
Your Highness Made: $9.5M We predicted: $9.5M
Source Code Made: $9.1M We predicted: $9.0M
Limitless Made: $5.7M We predicted: $5.5M
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules Made: $4.9M We predicted: $6.0M
The Lincoln Lawyer Made: $4.6M We predicted: $4.0M

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In the movie The Fault in Our Stars, what is the name of the character played by Mike Birbiglia

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