The movie world is a hectic place. Every weekend is a new horse race, with three or four wide releases jockeying for position as they gallop into multiplexes. Only one of them can claim victory come Monday morning -- but even the winner is usually replaced the following weekend, put out to second-run pasture a few weeks after that, and turned into DVD glue Blu-ray dog food a few months thereafter.
This weekend's competitors are Cowboys & Aliens, The Smurfs, and Crazy, Stupid Love. In all the excitement about them -- and don't kid yourself, you are STOKED about at least one of those, probably all three -- it's easy to forget the movies that already came and went. What has become of the films released this same weekend last year? Are they still with us in spirit, or are they forgotten entirely? Let's go back 365 days and pour out a 40 for our fallen homies, which if nothing else will give the theater ushers something to clean up.
The weekend of July 30-Aug. 1, 2010
Dinner for Schmucks
Starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd
Despite largely indifferent reviews (43% positive at Rotten Tomatoes), Dinner for Schmucks was the favorite in this race, and its $23.5 million opening might have been enough to win some other week. But it had to compete with Inception, whose top had begun spinning two weeks earlier and showed no signs of slowing. Schmucks had to settle for second place, and the anticipated resurgence in the popularity of Yiddish slang fizzled out. The film went on to make $73 million before being released on DVD a little more than five months later -- kind of a big window, suggesting Paramount was thinking it would stay in theaters longer than it did, the schmucks.
Steve Carell is in a movie opening THIS VERY DAY, and Rudd has Our Idiot Brother coming out next month. What everyone really wants is for those two to be reunited with Will Ferrell and David Koechner for an Anchorman sequel, but Paramount keeps nixing that (see above, re: schmucks).
The planned trilogy of Dinner for Schmucks, Dessert for Schmendricks, and Maybe Just a Little Midnight Nosh for a Couple of Putzes? never materialized.
Charlie St. Cloud
Starring Zac Efron
With the porcelain-faced Efron in the lead and a story that seemed like it must have been based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, this felt like a slam-dunk for the teen-girl audience. But it only made $12.4 million its opening weekend, barely good enough for fifth place. Maybe the teen girls were still watching Twilight: Eclipse, which had opened four weeks earlier? Or maybe they consider Zac Efron old and gross now? Teen girls are fickle. Charlie St. Cloud got miserable reviews (27% positive at Rotten Tomatoes), though I doubt that was a factor, since teen girls can't read (J/K LOL!!!!). Its total box office haul was $31.2 million, followed by a November DVD release and subsequent viewings at slumber parties.
Efron will appear this holiday season in New Year's Eve, from the people who brought you Valentine's Day, i.e., sadists. He's got a bunch of other stuff in the works, too, including a recently announced R-rated comedy with Seth Rogen in which Efron will be a rowdy frat boy and Rogen will be a quiet neighbor, even though none of those things make any sense.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Starring the voices of a bunch of famous people, and also Chris O'Donnell
When the first Cats & Dogs was released, way back in 2001, audiences begged Warner Bros. to make a sequel. "Please!" audiences said. "More of this! More live-action animals being manipulated through CGI to appear to speak! We find it amusing! We humbly beseech you, Warner Brothers!" But the Warner Brothers are cruel deities, and they saw fit to make us endure nine long years before granting our request. The sequel scored only 13% on the Tomatometer and made $12.3 million its opening weekend. You'll notice that's about the same as the Zac Efron thing. But Cats & Dogs had longer legs, as they say, and eventually out-grossed Charlie St. Cloud with a final haul of $43.6. It made another $68.9 million overseas, too ('s foreign take was negligible), proving once again that talking animals are funny in any language, while talking Zac Efron is not.
Still, a worldwide total of $112.5 million wasn't much of a return on a movie that cost $85 million to make, so don't look for a sequel any time soon. The larger question of why you would spend $85 million to make a movie called Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore remains unanswered.
One of the animal voices in the film is Neil Patrick Harris, who has been upgraded to human status in The Smurfs. Chris O'Donnell, who was the main human in Cats & Dogs, is probably on TV now or something, who knows.
Hey, look what else opened a year ago!
Get Low, a terrific indie comedy-drama starring Robert Duvall as a crazy hermit and Bill Murray as a mortician, opened on four screens. It went on to make $9.2 million over the course of its 30-week(!) run and earned some Oscar buzz for its performances. It should have at least been nominated for Best Supporting Facial Hair.
And what about FIVE years ago??
July 28, 2006, brought us Miami Vice, The Ant Bully, and John Tucker Must Die, plus Little Miss Sunshine and Woody Allen's Scoop. Let us never speak of July 28, 2006, again.
(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)