Christmas is right around the corner, so you know what that means: It's time to celebrate New Year's Eve! There haven't been very many movies about that holiday (well, that day-before-a-holiday), and the new one, aptly titled New Year's Eve, makes a good case for why there shouldn't be any more, ever. The only other new wide release is Jonah Hill's The Sitter, which is like the 50th R-rated comedy of the year.
Is this how it always is on the second weekend of December? No indeed! Let's take a look back at what occurred 52 weeks ago, and see how many of these things we have forgotten ever existed, as we soon will with New Year's Eve and The Sitter.
The weekend of Dec. 10-12, 2010
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Starring Dumbledore, Gandalf, and a lion who represents Jesus.
What a strange franchise The Chronicles of Narnia turned out to be. Everyone assumed the seven-book fantasy series would be a gold-pooping goose at the box office, just like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were. But then the goose didn't poop as much gold as expected, Disney bailed after the first two installments, and Twentieth Century Fox picked up the third one. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was a good half-hour shorter than its predecessors, but it got worse reviews -- 49% at Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 76% and 66% for the first two -- and made less money. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had a $65 million opening weekend on its way to $291 million; Prince Caspian opened with $55 million and totaled $141 million; and poor Voyage of the Dawn Treader opened with just $24 million and a final domestic tally of $104 million. Aw, way to make the lion cry, you guys!
A fourth adaptation would have been iffy under those circumstances anyway, but now there is a further complication. Walden Media's contract with the C.S. Lewis estate expired this year, and the estate isn't permitted to sell the film options for another couple years. Walden and Fox both want to keep going, but they'll have to wait until 2014 or so before they can do it -- and that's assuming they aren't out-bid for the rights by someone else, which isn't likely, so never mind.
Starring Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, and Europe.
You know who liked The Tourist? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, aka the junket whores behind the Golden Globes. Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie can't go the bathroom without being nominated for a Golden Globe. Put 'em both in the same movie? Filmed on location in beautiful Europe? GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS FOR EVERYONE!
Most of America was like, "Eh, whatever." The Tourist got a lousy 20% at Rotten Tomatoes, had an opening weekend of $16 million, and a total domestic haul of just $67 million. (The budget was north of $100 million.) But you know who loved it? People who don't live in America! The Tourist made $210 million overseas, with strongest showings in Japan, China, Russia, Italy, and Germany. Then Ricky Gervais made fun of the movie at the Golden Globes, and we never thought about it again.
Also, The Tourist was directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Say his name out loud. It is very fun! It is more fun than watching The Tourist.
Hey, look what else opened a year ago!
The Fighter, with Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and some wicked thick Massachusetts accents, opened on ten screens and made $300,000 -- the best per-screen average of any movie that weekend. It expanded into wide release the following week and eventually made $93 million. Everyone who saw the movie is still terrified of those guys' sisters.
And what about FIVE years ago??
Dec. 8, 2006: Apocalypto, in which Mel Gibson does crazy things with Mayans; The Holiday, a romantic comedy with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and ... Jack Black? For some reason?; Blood Diamond, with a Leonardo DiCaprio doing a rather unfortunate South African accent; and Unaccompanied Minors, the annual live-action children's Christmas movie that no one watches.
(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)