Monsters vs. Aliens — $58.2 million
Basically Pixar or DreamWorks or whoever could basically computer-animate a dog blinking for ninety minutes and kids and their "will there be inside adult jokes for us??" parents will line up, slobbering. (Though, they couldn't just computer-animate an outerspace magic Freddie Prinze lizard blinking for ninety minutes and expect lots of money. That, apparently, doesn't work.) This huge debut beat Watchmen to become the biggest of the year. Another sad indignity waged upon the superhero movie by, no doubt, its giant squid enemy.
The Haunting in Connecticut — $23 million
Another big bow. The ghosties and ghouls feature, starring Virginia Madsen (the scariest/saddest thing of all), racked up a nice $8,422 per-screen average and would have handily won the weekend had there not been some damn animated thing raging through the cineplexes too. Cheapo horror still reliably turns a buck these days. Lionsgate or Dimension or Dark Castle or whoever ought to film a cat blinking for ninety minutes while some gurgling black J-Horror ghost lurches toward them. It'd be boffo!
I Love You, Man — $12.6 million
Hardly dropping at all (29%) in its second weekend, the Paul Rudd comedy ought to ride strong word-of-mouth to sleeper success. Which is good for all of us because Rudd and costar Jason Segel are very funny men and references to dogs named Anwar Sadat really should be encouraged. That Judd Apatow technically had nothing to do with this picture is heartening—it proves funneez can be made without the bearded svengali's involvement.
Duplicity — $7.6 million
Two weeks out, and only $25 million grossed. What exactly went wrong with this caper flick? Had Julia Roberts been out of the game too long? How much does America really want Clive Owen? Was that alienatingly smug trailer—"Admit it... you don't trust me either." Ugh—just too much? Whatever the reason, the movie's a stumble for all involved, including writer/director Tony Gilroy, who had a chance to prove some commercial appeal after his critically-acclaimed but too-somber-for-popcorn Michael Clayton. Ah well. Better luck next time, zillionaires.
Watchmen — $2.8 million
Four weeks out, and just over $100 million hauled in. The flick is playing decently overseas, but the whole muddle is still an unqualified disappointment. How much does America really want Malin Ackerman? Is it because of that moment in the trailer when the giant blue penis asks the owl sexmobile if it doesn't, in fact, trust it either? The world may never know. All it tells me, really, is that this might be a bad time for my dark, painstakingly-faithful adaption of Archie: Pals 'n' Gals #118, in which the gang is super into ventriloquism and Reggie and Archie compete to see who can throw their voice the best. Ackerman is already on board to play Betty, and Owen was set to be Reggie. Offer's still out to Obama for Chuck. So, we'll see.