News

'Heartbreak Kid' Gets Hurt, 'Game Plan' Tops Again

by Brandon Gray
Ben Stiller in The Heartbreak Kid
October 8, 2007

Illustrating how indifference-inspiring the current crop of movies is, weekend attendance was the slowest early October has seen in more than a decade. Overall box office added up to $84.6 million, down 24 percent from the same period last year when The Departed debuted. While The Game Plan held well and remained in first place, the deficit was partly attributed to the disappointing start of The Heartbreak Kid.

The Game Plan eased 28 percent to $16.6 million for $43.2 million in ten days, and The Heartbreak Kid attracted a soft $14 million on approximately 4,200 screens at 3,229 theaters. A remake of the 1972 movie of the same name, DreamWorks' romantic gross-out comedy starring Ben Stiller had the same release slot that their Meet the Parents succeeded on in 2000 but saw less than half the business and fared about as well as Good Luck Chuck.

Stiller's previous teaming with directors the Farrelly brothers, There's Something About Mary, opened to $13.7 million in 1998 or the equivalent of about $20 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. Unlike Mary, The Heartbreak Kid's premise of a newlywed who tries to dump his wife after she becomes a nightmare was negative, even by the low standards of raunchy comedy. Posters read "love blows," "love stings" and "love hurts" expecting people to relate to Stiller's latest cringe inducements, but no positive pursuit was emphasized in ads to make the picture unique or dramatically interesting. Light on laughs, the marketing relied mostly on Stiller's name and the genre, which wasn't enough.

Conjuring a mere $3.7 million at 3,141 sites, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising had one of the poorest starts for a fantasy on record and the second worst for a 3,000-theater plus release behind Hoot. The picture was nondescript in its presentation, failing to stand out amidst similar recent fantasies like Harry Potter.

Also opening wide, music drama Feel the Noise served up a measly $3.2 million at 1,015 venues, though its distributor, Sony, claimed that was more than the production budget. Few joined The Jane Austen Book Club in its national expansion. Playing at 1,232 locations, the ensemble romance garnered an anemic $1.3 million.

The highest grossing movie of the fall so far at a moderate $48.7 million, 3:10 to Yuma, again had one of the smallest drops among wide releases, off 24 percent. On the other hand, The Kingdom did not hold well in its second weekend, down 43 percent to $9.7 million for $31.7 million in ten days.

While box office was slight at the top of the chart, a few limited releases generated a modicum of interest. Michael Clayton uncovered $719,910 at 15 sites before it goes wide next weekend, while Blade Runner: The Final Cut drew $89,150 at two venues. Across the Universe and Into the Wild remained steady but modest, and The Darjeeling Limited and Lust, Caution spread out a bit beyond last weekend's New York City exclusives to predictable results, though the verdict is still out.

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Review: 'Michael Clayton'
10/9/06 - 'Departed' Out-Muscles 'Massacre' (Same Weekend, 2006)
10/10/05 - 'Were-Rabbit,' 'Gospel' Hoppin' (Same Weekend, 2005)
10/4/04 - 'Shark Tale' Slays Box Office Blahs (Same Weekend, 2004)

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NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Oct. 7 and was revised on Monday, Oct. 8 with actual grosses.



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