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Box office 2011 welcomes Westerns, shuns sequels

It was a lackluster weekend for what should be a blockbuster time period for the movie industry. With no major tentpoles premiering, holdovers trudged into their usually spots on the charts. Lamentable comedy Little Fockers held on to the number one position with $26.3 million in sales. True Grit was a close second with $24.5 million. Tron Legacy is still kicking after a lukewarm start. It crossed $100 million over the holiday week. Paired with international sales the cyber-adventure has nearly made back its $200 million production budget.

Little Fockers pales in comparison to its predecessors and proves comedy “threequels” are unnecessary and unwanted. Though it did stumble across the $100 million milestone it failed to garner much in actual attendance -- inflated ticket prices cover this dirty secret. True Grit is making a name for Westerns. The revenge flick directed by the Coen brothers has had the most popular appeal for the genre since Tombstone in 1993. It also eclipsed 3:10 to Yuma which made $53 million domestic in 2007.

Yogi Bear is hanging in there along with other family films “The Chronicles of Narnia” and Tangled. Yogi and Boo Boo outdid Gulliver and his yawn-inducing travels. The art house stayed in the mix. Black Swan rang in the New Year with $8.4 million while The King’s Speech claimed $7.6 million. The Fighter knocked them all down a peg with $10 million. The boxing movie and Darren Arnofsky’s thriller are neck and neck in their total hauls of approximately $46 million.

The Top Ten

1. Little Fockers - $26.3M (weekend)…$103.1M (gross)
2. True Grit - $24.5M…$86.7M
3. Tron Legacy - $18.3M…$130.8M
4. Yogi Bear - $13.0M…$66.1M
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader - $10.5M…$87.1M
6. Tangled - $10.0M…$168.0M
7. The Fighter - $10.0M…$46.3M
8. Gulliver’s Travels - $9.1M …$27.2M
9. Black Swan - $8.4M…$47.3M
10. The King’s Speech - $7.6M …$22.8M

Season of the Witch was pushed back into January, a dumping ground for movies studios want you to forget. Nevertheless, this period action film starring a wigged out Nicolas Cage premieres at 2,500 theaters. Cage has trouble at the box office, among other problems lately. The film was rebranded from the scary teaser released last year to more recent trailers showing a jumble of epic battles and sorcery. In the midst is Cage dealing with the dilemma of saving or condemning some dirt-smudged woman.

Country Strong launches from limited release to a semi-wide audience at 1,500 cinemas. Supposedly the chick version of Crazy Heart, this music drama stars Gwyneth Paltrow in the leading role as a troubled singer on the road to recovery and comeback. Rotten Tomatoes critics have judged it harshly as cliché and cluttered. It stands at a 20% tomatometer thus far with eight rotten reviews and only two fresh. Music dramas are like sports dramas in their box office performance: unpredictable. It is plain to me that Country Strong will not have the reception of Ray or Walk the Line.    


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