Well, Halloween is over, so, damn, it must be Christmas now. Yep, here come the holiday movies, right on schedule! This weekend you can get into the spirit with A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, a movie that is indeed all of the things that the title says it is, which I always appreciate. It's very Harold and Kumar-y, it's in 3D, and it's about Christmas. Or you might check out Tower Heist, a heartwarming comedy about the spirit of giving, i.e., rich criminals being forced to give back some of the money they stole from Ben Stiller and the girl from Precious. If neither of those options appeals to you, well, what's your problem, Scrooge??
But can you believe it's been an entire year since the last holiday season began? It has, and I can prove it. Let's look back at what was opening in theaters exactly a year ago and relive those memories, be they joyous or be they bogus.
The weekend of Nov. 5-7, 2010
Starring the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, and Jonah Hill.
A cartoon with Brad Pitt as a superhero, Tina Fey as his Lois Lane, and Will Ferrell as the supervillain: What could go wrong? Nothing did go wrong, really, other than coming out just four months after Despicable Me did a very similar thing with evil geniuses. (They both even had characters named Minion!) But critical response was good -- 73% positive at Rotten Tomatoes -- and the film opened to a mega-sized $46 million. It would eventually pull in $148 million in the U.S. and another $173 overseas, for a whopping total of $321 million. That's a huge profit, and would have been even huger if the thing hadn't cost $130 million to make, which doesn't make any sense at all. They could have made this film in live-action for less than that.
Anyway, while Megamind's box office is in the middle of the pack for DreamWorks Animation, it's Tina Fey's biggest hit and Will Ferrell's second biggest (after Elf). What is perhaps a little strange is that so far there has been no talk of a sequel, and DreamWorks is a sequel-happy cartoon factory if ever there was one. There's a Facebook page devoted to the idea, though! It only has 142 "likes," which makes evil blue-headed Will Ferrell SO SAD.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, swearing.
Here's another one that sounds like it can't miss. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis as mismatched strangers on a cross-country road trip? Directed by the guy who made Wedding Crashers and The Hangover? Sign me up!
And then refund my ticket, please! Turns out Due Date was poorly received (40% at Rotten Tomatoes) because it was only sporadically funny and because it had the audacity to try to get all serious on us in some parts. When it wasn't doing that, it was making Zach Galifianakis fall down a lot, thus beginning his Chris Farleyization process much sooner than anticipated.
Nonetheless, it opened in second place with $32.6 million, on its way to $100.5 million domestic and a total of $211.7 million worldwide. That's a good enough profit on a $65 million film -- but, like Megamind, no one seems to be interested in a sequel. Director Todd Phillips went on to The Hangover Part II, Downey has his Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes franchises, Galifianakis has plenty of projects that will allow him to be the way he is before people get tired of him. You get the feeling everybody only made Due Date as a placeholder between the movies they really wanted to make. We probably watched it for the same reason. Due Date was the Veronica's Closet of R-rated comedies.
For Colored Girls
Starring all the women Tyler Perry knows.
It's been a year, and I'm still not comfortable saying this title. Apart from the racial implications, it's awkward to say. What if you're seeing it with three friends? "I'd like four for For Colored Girls, please." Very unwieldy.
Maybe that's why it didn't do very well? Adapted from a beloved abstract theatrical piece, this was the first thing Tyler Perry directed that he hadn't written entirely by himself. But he wrote enough of it, making the abstract literal and Tyler Perrying everything all to hell, to nearly ruin it. Only 32% of critics spoke favorably of it, and both its opening weekend ($19.5 million) and final total ($37.7 million) are way down at the low end for movies directed by Tyler Perry.
Don't worry about Tyler Perry, though! He has 73 movies in the works (their titles feature his name a total of 113 times), plus 11 sitcoms on TBS. He currently owns all of Atlanta, Georgia.
Hey, look what else opened a year ago!
Looks like they were holding out on us. The good stuff was only in a handful of theaters! A future Oscar contender, the misleadingly titled 127 Hours opened in four locations (10 screens total) but made a whopping $265,000, proving that people are always interested in movies that will scare them into never going outside. This weekend also saw the release of Four Lions, easily the best terrorism comedy of the year, and the Valerie Plame-inspired Fair Game, easily the second.
And what about FIVE years ago??
Nov. 3, 2006, brought us these treasures: Borat, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a foreigner who tries to goad Americans into killing him; The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, starring Tim Allen falling off of roofs; and Flushed Away, about Claymation animals living in the sewer, I think.
(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)