News

'Bee' Keeps Buzzing as 'Fred,' 'Lions' Don't Roar

by Brandon Gray
A scene from Bee Movie
November 13, 2007

Bee Movie and American Gangster dominated the weekend box office again as major new releases Fred Claus and Lions for Lambs lacked broad appeal. Overall, it was the least attended second weekend of November in a decade.

Though it was the first picture since Wedding Crashers to rise to No. 1, Bee Movie's ascent was not a sign of particular strength. Rank aside, its gross was business as usual for a family movie at this time of year. The computer-animated comedy gathered $25.6 million, down 33 percent for a $71.8 million ten-day tally. Its drop was even steeper than Chicken Little's on the same frame in November 2005.

American Gangster nabbed $24 million, bringing its ten-day haul to a crackling $80.4 million. Its 45 percent fall was to be expected after the initial rush last weekend and was slightly smaller than star Denzel Washington's last big opener, Inside Man.

Looking like a cross between Elf, The Santa Clause and Bad Santa, Fred Claus wasn't nearly as nice as those pictures commercially, bagging a relatively stingy $18.5 million on approximately 5,500 screens at 3,603 theaters. Presented as a Christmas comedy for families and for adults, the Warner Bros. picture's marketing offered an inert premise of Santa having a brother played by Vince Vaughn, followed by the sight of tall Vaughn playing with elves, like Will Ferrell in Elf, and little else. Vaughn was the distinguishing factor, but he's popular as an adult comedian (Wedding Crashers, Old School) and hadn't made a kids movie before.

Robert Redford in Lions for Lambs
Lions for Lambs drummed up $6.7 million at 2,215 sites, selling nearly as many tickets initially as The Contender from 2000. Lions was the latest drama themed around the war in Iraq and Afghanistan to be slaughtered at the box office and suffered from being lumped in with those previous failures, like Rendition and The Kingdom. The ad campaign explicitly addressed apathy as a key problem in our culture, including the tagline "If you don't stand for something, you might fall for anything," yet didn't inspire potential audiences with something to get behind, like a clear story. A tough sell, the United Artists picture was a muddle of talking heads in its trailer, despite the star wattage of Robert Redford and Tom Cruise.

P2 debuted to $2.1 million at 2,131 locations, setting the record for lowest grossing start for a picture playing at over 2,000 theaters. The horror thriller edged out Major League: Back to the Minors, which had held the ignominious title for over nine years.

Dan in Real Life had the best hold among wide releases, easing 24 percent to $6 million for $30.8 million in 17 days, while Saw IV plummeted 52 percent to $4.9 million and, in total, now trails its predecessor by more than $12 million through the same point.

In limited release, No Country for Old Men opened to a promising $1.2 million at 28 sites and will expand to around 130 venues this weekend. On the other hand, After Dark's Horrorfest 2 had a dreadful start, grossing $502,148 at 323 theaters or about a fifth of the first Horrorfest.

RELATED ARTICLES
• Review: 'Lions for Lambs'
• 11/13/06 -
'Borat' Shticks to the Top (Same Weekend, 2006)
• 11/14/05 - 'Chicken' Licks 50 Cent (Same Weekend, 2005)
• 11/15/04 - Superheroes Slay Santa (Same Weekend, 2004)

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• Christmas Movies



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