Despite being weighed down by heaps of cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts (those are everyone's favorite Thanksgiving foods, right?), people managed to haul themselves out to the multiplexes to do their American duty this weekend. And they mostly wanted fantasy.
All of these grosses are for the five-day Wednesday-Sunday weekend.
1) Harry Potter's Last Tango in Diagon Alley, Chapter One — $$76M
So this one is a dark movie, definitely. Death and scariness abound. Tough, adultish moral quandaries are dealt with. Menacing sexuality rears its strange, ugly head. So yes, it's a YA tale that leans more on the "adult" than the "young" there. But! It's got nothing on The Hunger Games books. Lordy, have you read these things? They're not exactly artfully written, but they are grimly compelling. I was at the Penn Station Book Corner on Wednesday afternoon and was about to pay for the piece of Literature in my hand when I decided to take one last kamikaze pass of the Young Adult section and, of course, I saw The Hunger Games and, of course, put the Literature down and bought this book about teenagers killing each other in a dystopic futurescape instead. And, of course, I finished the thing that very same day and went to the book store and bought the other two books in the trilogy. (I haven't finished the third one yet, so if you spoil it in these here comments I will actually lean through your computer screen and scratch at your eyes.) While the books are sexually inert, they are vibrantly violent and I'm really curious about how old the youngest readers of this series are. The last two dark Harry Potter books at least take some moments to pause for lighthearted whimsy. Not so much with these books. There are a few jokes, but mostly it's about people dying or about to die. They're actually somewhat unsettling! Though, of course, not as unsettling as spending a weekend reading teen books and then talking about them at your grownup person job on Monday morning. Not much is as unsettling as that.
2) Tangled — $69M
Well this was a surprise! Disney's latest (computer, ugh) animated princess musical totally connected with audiences, getting an A+ in theater exit polls. Apparently this movie isn't the soulless gumbo of cynical sarcastic jokes and for-the-grownups asides it looks to be in the trailers. Or, it is, and the people who went to see it and enjoyed it are the hideous mutant people who have grown up fully under the scorched skies of the mass-market irony era and know nothing else. Maybe sincerity would be the truly novel trick these days. Maybe a movie where the male character wasn't named Flynn or Cole or Wyatt or Cooper. Maybe something like that could surprise in today's modern world. Who knows!
3) Megamind — $17.5M
See above, I guess? I dunno. This one doesn't bug me as much for some reason, maybe because parts of it actually look funny? I also just shouldn't be so hard on today's animated movies sight unseen anymore. I finally watched The Incredibles over the weekend because nothing else was on, and yes, OK, everyone from six years ago, you are right. It was a very well done little movie. So I don't know. If someone wants to give me money to go see Tangled and Megamind I will go and possibly, just possibly, enjoy myself. Now who wants to do that?
4) Burlesque — $17.1M
While all the little girls wanted to go see Tangled this weekend, some of the little boys really wanted to go see Burlesque, the gritty tale of an Iowan (Xtina Aguilera) moving to the big bad LA to make it as a go-go singer at Cher's highbrow seedy nightclub. Maybe those boys are just really big Stanley Tucci fans, or maybe they just like all the scantily clad women! That's probably it, actually. It's the same reason those same little boys want desperately to go to the Cody Simpson concert (look him up at your own peril). They just want to meet all the cute girls that will inevitably be there. Same goes for not wanting to go to baseball games. Not enough girls.
6) Love & Other Drugs — $14M
So, as it turns out, not that many people wanted to see a disease love story with lots of raunchy sex jokes and Mia Thermopolis naked. I mean, plenty of people did, lots of people did, but not that many. Do you think that maybe some people went to see this with their family after the holiday and were mortified? Or do you think, even worse, a couple went to this on their first date and had to sit squirmily through all the naughty bits, shifting uncomfortably and maybe half-laughing awkwardly to try to make a joke out of the unbearable tension? That would be the worst! "That Anne Hathaway, she's... she's something... just a great... actress." "Yeah. Same for Jake Gyllenhaal. Really good... actor." And then there's the stiff kiss on the cheek goodbye and the date is over and both parties speed all the way home to go shut their bedroom doors and deal with loneliness for yet another night.