There's something for everyone at the multiplex this weekend! Fans of math and baseball will find Moneyball much to their liking, while fans of kindly old men making prosthetic fins for wounded sea creatures will enjoy Dolphin Tale. And speaking of smooth, inarticulate mammals, Taylor Lautner is starring in a thriller called Abduction! Do I smell Oscar?? (No. It was Axe body spray.) You'll also find Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro running around shooting each other in Killer Elite, as is their custom.
With so many amazing options, it's understandable if you've forgotten all the amazing options that opened 365 days ago. But how do you think that makes those movies feel? How would you like it if everyone forgot about YOU a year after you opened? Let's go back and recall what we were talking about this time last year…
The weekend of Sept. 24-26, 2010
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Starring Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, nostalgia.
When the American economy tanked in 2008, people started getting wistful for the good old days, when greed was a virtue and Shia LaBeouf did not exist. The result was Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Oliver Stone's sequel to his 1987 hit. Nostalgia for the 1980s was unusually high in 2010 -- witness The A-Team, The Karate Kid, The Expendables -- and a lot had changed about American capitalism in the meantime, so a Wall Street sequel sounded like a reasonably good idea. I mean, it was a better foundation than most sequels, which get made simply because the first one made $100 million.
Money Never Sleeps (which isn't true, by the way) scored 54% positive at Rotten Tomatoes, with a lot of critics basically saying, "Eh, it's not terrible." Audiences concurred. It made $19.1 million its opening weekend, enough for first place but not enough to automatically greenlight Wall Street 3: Stock Footage. The film's final tally was $52.5 million in the U.S., plus $82.3 million overseas. Somehow it cost $70 million to make, though, which sounds like the kind of ludicrous spending that led to the events that made a Wall Street sequel timely in the first place.
Michael Douglas will next appear in Steven Soderbergh's Haywire, one of several "last" movies that Soderbergh is making before he "retires," which he will never do. Shia LaBeouf was in the third Transformers movie this past summer. Surely you remember his stirring performance as though it were yesterday.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
After he made 300, everyone figured Zack Snyder was the perfect guy to direct a cartoon about owl genocide. (In 3D, of course, as befits a tale of avian slaughter.) Any movie with a title containing a made-up place name with an apostrophe is a hard sell, but Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole -- or LOTGTOOG'H, as the kids called it -- got about the same level of approval as Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: 53% at Rotten Tomatoes and a final worldwide total of $140 million.
Once again, though, the budget was a killer. They spent $80 million making the computers draw the owls. What was theoretically going to be the start of a new franchise will most likely wind up being a one-time affair instead. Rumor has it the Owl character in Winnie the Pooh comes from the same universe as the owls in Ga'Hoole, though.
Starring Kristen Bell, Odette Yustman, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis.
You Again teaches the important lesson that whatever happens to you in high school is super, super, super important and should dominate your thoughts for the rest of your life. "Moving on" and "getting over it" are crazy ideas for losers. The premise, as it was explained to me by the trailer, is that Kristen Bell and Odette Yustman were rivals in high school, and now Odette is going to marry Kristen's brother, and Odette's aunt is Sigourney Weaver, and she had a high school rivalry with Kristen's mom, Jamie Lee Curtis. Can't you people all just stop being terrible to each other? This looks like the kind of movie where everybody in it needs to be slapped a lot.
Oh, and Betty White was in it, because we were doing that thing where we put Betty White in everything. And everybody hated it!
Well, maybe not everybody. Your 15-year-old sister probably liked it. But only 18% of critics gave it a thumbs-up, and it opened in fifth place at the box office. It ultimately made $25 million, plus a few million more overseas, and Betty White was returned to her crypt.
Hey, look what else opened a year ago!
The Virginity Hit, an R-rated teen sex comedy, opened on 700 screens, then closed about five minutes later. The thing made $636,000 all told, despite the endorsement of producer Will Ferrell and the presence of well over a thousand obscene jokes.
Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds as a man trapped in a coffin, was a Sundance hit and seemed like it ought to have been a moneymaker. Which it kind of was: it earned just over $1 million in the U.S., but $18 million more overseas. Evidently foreign audiences enjoy seeing Ryan Reynolds buried alive more than we do. Maybe they should have kept the film's working title, D*** in a Box.
And what about FIVE years ago??
On Sept. 22, 2006, we were given four very, very manly films: Jackass: Number Two, which now makes us sad to think about, even sadder than it did at the time; Jet Li's Fearless, which is not to be confused with William Shakespeare's Fearless; Flyboys, which told the inspiring story about the boyfriends behind the dancers on In Living Color; and All the King's Men, which something something Humpty Dumpty joke.
(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)