There's no point in sugar-coating it, so we'll just come out and say it: The box office numbers don't love you anymore.
1./2. Snakes on a Plane—$13.85 million/$15.250 million (incl. Thursday night screenings)*
1./2. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby—$14.1 million
Late last night, our cellphone rang, and we listened somberly as the weary, disappointed pre-recorded voice of Samuel L. Jackson arrived to deliver another promotional greeting: "Hello, BLOGGER. Pardon me if my memory is bad, but didn't I remind you last week to put down the BLOGGING MACHINE, step away from your BLOG, and make some time to go see my new movie, Snakes on a Plane? Where the fuck were you? Do you have any idea how motherfucking silly it feels sitting in this recording booth, reading from a list of hundreds of names and occupations just so you can feel like this message was meant just for you? And then you don't even go see my new movie, Snakes on a Plane? Fifteen motherfucking million? Fuck you, motherfuckers. I'm done with you. See you in motherfucking hell."
Now that the value of a year of obsessive, overwhelmingly favorable internet
hype buzz has been measured at a disappointing $15.25 million, or roughly the rate of return New Line could have expected if it had placed cartoon images of Samuel L. Jackson hugging pink pythons on the side of a Happy Meal box, the studios will spend this morning dismantling their Why Can't We Come Up With Our Own Funny Titles Around Which Bloggers Will Construct Loving YouTube Parodies? think-tanks and redistributing the personnel to their Dreaming Up Projects In Which Will Ferrell Can Run Around In Circles, Causing His Swollen, Pale Belly To Jiggle departments.
*If you're confused by the above weekend box office rankings, it's because there's some dispute about New Line's semi-face-saving inclusion of $1.4 million from Thursday night screenings in the three-day take, an amount which pushes it just ahead of Talladega Nights and affords SoaP the moral victory of finishing the weekend in first place. Yup, here it comes: Snakes on a Box Office Estimates Reporting Scandal.
3. World Trade Center—$10.8 million
Paramount's marketing department breathed a sigh of relief after seeing the smaller than expected SoaP results, proud that they abandoned at the last moment a viral, teen-targeted campaign in which all of WTC's MySpace friends would receive cryptic e-mail messages suggesting that the 9/11 hijackers were actually snakes.
4. Accepted—$10.112 million
Maybe we don't know anything about casting, but if you're going to get someone from an annoying series of computer commercials to star in your college comedy, don't you do whatever you can to sign the "Dude, you're getting a Dell!" guy?
5. Step Up—$9.867 million
Because Disney will be unwilling to meet the salary demands of rising dance movie superstar Channing Tatum, his part will be recast with Patrick Swayze in Step Up 2: Still Steppin' Up.