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“Witch” crushed by western, “Country Strong” is weak

Another slow weekend passed at the box office. But every dark cloud isn’t without its silver lining; True Grit overtook Little Fockers as the number one movie in the nation. Jeff Bridges one-eyed Marshall Cogburn struck up $15 million taking the Coen Brothers’ western past the $100-million milestone. Ben Stiller’s humorless sequel managed $13.7 million. New entries Season of the Witch and Country Strong sputtered in with rather underwhelming results.

The universally panned Nic Cage period action smorgasbord actually drummed up a third place finish and $10.7 million in sales. The audience was mixed with males and females, young and old proving Nicolas Cage victims come in all shapes and sizes. A cute little music drama didn’t fair much better. Gwyneth Paltrow and Garrett Hedlund strung a jingle to the tune of $7.3 million. That was enough for sixth place.

Both “The Chronicles of Narnia” and Gulliver’s Travels fell off the charts while indie pictures and Oscar hopefuls Black Swan, The Fighter, and The King’s Speech remained on the boards. Yogi Bear and Tangled sit in ninth and tenth position and will likely slide into oblivion with next week’s selections.

The Top Ten

1. True Grit - $15.0M (weekend)…$110.4M (gross)
2.  Little Fockers - $13.7M…$123.9M
3. Season of the Witch - $10.7M…$10.7M
4. Tron Legacy - $9.8M…$147.9M
5. Black Swan - $8.3M…$61.4M
6. Country Strong - $7.3M…$7.4M
7. The Fighter - $7.0M…$57.8M
8. The King’s Speech - $6.8M …$33.2M
9. Yogi Bear - $6.8M…$75.6M
10. Tangled - $5.2M …$175.8M

The Green Hornet (in 3-D) offers a potential mid-January bump in ticket sales. Seth Rogen and Jay Chou star in this made-for-teenage-boys concoction from the mind of the top-billed funnyman. This is a vigilante film based on a radio show. Many could not fathom the fuzzy haired man-child as their masked crusader but Rogen got fit and wrote himself into the titular part. Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz also star as the beautiful secretary and arch-nemesis respectively.

The previews promise slow motion action, explosions, and off-color gags. This is all being obnoxiously shown in three dimensions so slow down on the slurpee. Based on the performances of January releases, it won’t take much for The Green Hornet to impress. MLK Day weekend has brought us such cinematic gems as Cloverfield, The Book of Eli, and Paul Blart Mall Cop. Each of those pulled in $30-$40 million but such high numbers are far from the norm.

The Dilemma is offsetting Seth Rogan comedy with equally obnoxious and slightly grosser Vince Vaughn comedy. Kevin James accompanies as the fun fat friend who gets cheated on by his conniving wife (Winona Rider). It’s a bromance centered on a common topic, infidelity. Vaughn is a hit in theaters with the majority of his movies of the past few years topping $100 million including Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, and The Break-Up.

Both new entries are rated PG-13 so there will be plenty of competition for the young male market. The Dilemma debuts at 2,900 cinemas. The Green Hornet rivals with 3,500 locations (many in 3D). Pick your poison this Friday.


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