You kids today are spoiled when it comes to movies. You've got your 50/50, a cancer comedy in which the diagnosis is hilarity! Or if you prefer, you've got your Dream House, starring Daniel Craig, though you could also see the whole movie for free by watching the trailer. None of those interest you? Then you've got What's Your Number?, a comedy based on the fantasy premise of Anna Faris being unable to find a boyfriend.
So many good choices! And do you appreciate it? No. In my day, we were grateful to suckle up to Hollywood's teat and guzzle down whatever warm, fresh offerings it had in store for us. My day was one year ago, by the way. Let's go back and reconsider the movies that came out 52 Fridays ago.
The weekend of Oct. 1-3, 2010
The Social Network
Starring Jesse Eisenberg and the Internet.
A movie about the invention of Facebook sounds boring. But so does a movie about the invention of the intermittent windshield wiper, and look at Flash of Genius! No, wait, don't look at it, because that movie actually is boring and does not help me my case.
Despite its potentially dull premise, The Social Network had a couple things going for it. For one thing, it was directed by David Fincher, who is beloved by literally every single film buff under the age of 40. (LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE ONE!) For another thing, it was written by Aaron Sorkin, master of snappy dialogue and striding down hallways. If anyone could make a Facebook movie interesting, or at least really wordy, it was him.
Sure enough, The Social Network opened to a healthy $22.4 million and an easy victory for the weekend. Almost all the reviews were positive -- 96% at Rotten Tomatoes. (Among the naysayers was Armond White, of course, because his job is to say nay, and someone called "Prairie Miller," whose Rotten Tomatoes quote is as follows: "Cavalier when not in your face cocky, this Hollywood notion of a dumbed down, sexed up Harvard is less brainiac boot camp than Ivy League Club Med where nobody does homework. A hyper-capitalist homage to Facebook, and an infomercial in biopic clothing." Yum! Word salad!) The Social Network went on to make $97 million in the U.S. and another $128 million internationally. Then it got nominated for all those Oscars, too, and basically competed with The King's Speech for Best Picture. The King's Speech won, at least in part because most of the voting members of the Academy are too old to know what Facebook is and old enough to remember when the king of England used to stammer on the radio.
Jesse Eisenberg followed up his Oscar-nominated performance by voicing a neurotic bird in Rio and playing a neurotic pizza guy in 30 Minutes or Less. He's in Woody Allen's next film, probably playing -- I'm going out on a limb here -- a neurotic person. Meanwhile, David Fincher has The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo coming out this Christmas, and Aaron Sorkin shared screenplay credit on last week's Moneyball and continues to spend his time striding down hallways.
Let Me In
Starring some kids, a fondness for Swedish vampire movies.
Everyone loves vampires, and everyone loves American remakes of European horror films, and everyone loves Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz. So it's pretty baffling that Let Me In was such a flop. Despite a high-profile premiere as the opening-night selection at geek-approved Fantastic Fest, and despite overwhelmingly positive reviews (90% at Rotten Tomatoes), Let Me In tanked at the box office, opening in 8th place with $5.1 million. Its domestic total was $12.1 million, with about the same coming in from foreign markets for a total of just $24 million. Still, the movie it was a remake of, Let the Right One In, only made $11 million worldwide, so suck it, Sweden! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Chloe Moretz -- who already had one underperforming supposed sure thing under her belt in Kick-Ass -- will next appear in Martin Scorsese's Hugo. Kodi Smit-McPhee no longer exists and might have been a fictional name to begin with.
Starring Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper, albeit the Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper from three years earlier.
This thriller about creepy children was shot in 2007 and had already played just about everywhere else in the world before it finally opened in the United States three years later. Zellweger and Cooper, clearly embarrassed, didn't bother doing publicity for it, and the studio buried it without press screenings. (All of that sounds eerily like this weekend's Dream House, by the way.) And yet it still opened better than Let Me In, though not by much: $5.3 million, on its way to $13.3 million domestic and $14.9 million foreign.
Bradley Cooper has been plenty busy since then, starring in The Hangover Part II and Limitless, and he'll next headline Alex Proyas's version of Paradise Lost. Nobody knows where Renee Zellweger is. Let us know if you see her.
Hey, look what else opened a year ago!
The unrated horror flick Hatchet 2 opened on 68 screens, made $52,000, and was pulled from theaters by Monday. Coming out the same weekend as two other horror films and the Facebook movie probably wasn't a good idea.
And what about FIVE years ago??
The weekend of Sept. 29, 2006, was huge for Ashton Kutcher and his fans, who I assume are real. The films were Open Season, a cartoon featuring Kutcher's voice; The Guardian, with Kutcher costarring with Kevin Costner; and School for Scoundrels, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Napoleon Dynamite. No Ashton Kutcher involvement on that last one, but he probably would have enjoyed it if he'd seen it, which he didn't. (No one did.)
(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)