Everyone's been talking about the dismal box office returns of this season's crop of anti-war / anti-Iraq films. Hollywood claims the movies simply aren't "entertaining enough" but the cold hard fact is that Americans don't like being lectured or preached to through the silver screen. I did some quick and dirty analysis over at box office mojo, here's some numbers for you:
1. Lions for Lambs:
Debuted at no. 4 in it's opening weekend at $6.7 million (the movie at no. 3, Fred Claus, did $18.5 million the same weekend - that's roughly $12 million better). Dropped 56.8% its second weekend to no. 8 with $2.8 million, $11.6 total. This weekend's estimates are in and it's completely out of the top 10, estimated drop of 60.1% to $1.16 million, $13.8 total. Worldwide it's done better with $20 million total, but that's pennies compared to the standard Hollywood blockbuster. No idea on the budget, but with Redford, Cruise, and Streep, it's gotta be steep.
Received an "F" rating by 57.6% of BoxOfficeMojo users.
This one is laughable. Debuted last weekend in limited release (only 15 theaters, presumably NY and LA) to the tune of $25,628 dollars for no. 50 in the box office results. Yes, you read that correctly, only twenty five thousand six hundred and twenty eight dollars. That's a per theater average of only $1,708. To put this into context, Dan In Real Life, which had been out for 4 weeks already and was at no. 6 in the box office for the same weekend averaged $2,284 per theater. Internationally it's only done $71,968. Currently I don't believe it's box office results are even being tracked anymore.
Received an "F" rating by 84.5% of BoxOfficeMojo users.
Despite an all-star cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, and Peter Sarsgaard, this one tanked quickly, although it received more favorable ratings at BoxOfficeMojo than the previous 2 entries (41.6% rated it a D or an F while 49.2% rated it an A or B). Rendition debuted at no. 9 in the box office back on October 19 with a weekend gross of only $4 million. It quickly dropped to no. 11 the following weekend, then no. 20, then no. 33 before it stopped being tracked. Total domestic AND international gross? A whopping $14.9 million.
4. In The Valley of Elah
This one, at least by BoxOfficeMojo users, rated the best of these films, with only 26.2% of users rating it an "F" (still, that's roughly a quarter of the audience) while over 50% of users rated it an A or B. Unfortunately the combined star power of Tommy Lee Jones, Susan Sarandon, and Charlize Theron was unable to generate sufficient buzz or box office mojo, despite adding theaters to its initial limited release. It debuted strongly at no. 35 in a limited release of only 9 theaters with $133,557 total gross, that averages out to $14,839 per theater, which is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, it quickly tailed off and continued to lose ground, even as they added more theaters. It's second weekend the film was boosted to a total theater count of 317 which saw its weekend gross rise to $1.2 million, with a decent per theater average of $3,996. The third weekend saw its theater count rise to 762, more than double the previous weekend, but its weekend box office rose a paltry $300,000 to $1.5 million and its per theater average plummeted to $1,984. That was the last decent weekend for Elah, with its fourth weekend box office take down, despite a +200 theater count increase. Theaters quickly dumped the movie and it is no longer being tracked.
Total domestic + international gross? Merely $10.1 million.
I've read that there's a number of new movies along the same lines as these four clunkers. Perhaps after they've bled enough red ink Hollywood will finally learn that Americans like heroic stories where the bad guys are the Islamic terrorists / fascists and not the American Military, FBI, CIA, or the Defense Department.