This week's box office saw the further success of our old friend Liam Neeson, plus the emergence of a new sorta-successful action star from the British Isles.
1) Unknown — $21.7M
If only Liam Neeson had known earlier in his career that what we really want from him is single-word title, European, journeyman action thrillers. If only we'd known! Sure there were the other interesting moments in his career, the Darkmans and the Schindlers and even the Zeuses, but what everyone is really after when it comes to Liam Neeson, apparently, is some fisticuffs and blunt gunplay in a gray Continental setting. Worked in Taken and apparently worked again with Unknown. Neeson's got two movies coming up, one called The Grey ("In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.") and another called Last Stand ("A drug cartel leader busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexico border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff."), both of which sound promising. But! They both distinctly lack Europeanness and, obviously, both have one too many words in the title. Come on, Team Neeson. Let's get our boy back in Belgium filming Followed or Caught or Lurk or something. It's what the world wants.
2) I Am Number Four — $19.5M
By the long weekend's end (long weekend for some of you jerks, whatever, you stink), this might sink down to third place, but for now it's number two. (HAHAHA. NEVER GETS OLD.) Either way, the point is the film is not in first place, which is where this teen alien sex fantasia (or whatever it is) obviously hoped to be. The movie's budget wasn't too insane, between $50 and $60 million depending on who you ask, but still, it seems clear that an extraterrestrial Twilight meets a hardened Harry Potter was hoped for here. I doubt this says anything too ominous about Alex Pettyfer's further career, though. In case you were worried. He's got several other movies coming down the pipeline, including one called The Seventh Son, which is about: "The seventh son of a seventh son learns how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches, and bind boggarts in the 1700s." And as we all know, Alex Pettyfer could bind our boggarts all night and into the morning and we wouldn't mind. I also wouldn't mind watching Alex Pettyfer exercise a ghost, provided that ghost was James McAvoy. Just Alex Pettyfer exercising poor dead spirit James McAvoy. I Am Number Yes, coming to your BitTorrent in 2013.
3) Gnomeo & Juliet — $19.4M
By long weekend's end (again, I hate you), this movie is projected to swing all the way up to the top spot, given that the kiddies are out of school today and are most likely to see this movie out of all the movies. Well, OK, sure maybe some of them will opt for Another Year, feeling connected to a certain British kind of melancholy. And others might pick Rabbit Hole, wanting to see what the world would be like if they died. But most kids, being kids and all, will probably want to see the new gnome movie about jokes. That's just how kids work usually. We all wish they didn't, we'd rather they were going to revel in the blue Spanish mournfulness of Biutiful, but that's not for us to say. Gnomeo & Juliet it is. And next year, they'll be lining up for bumblebee comedy The Merry Hives of Windsor. Or the chicken romp Two Gentlehens of Verona. You know, something they like.
4) Just Go With It — $18.2M
This movie only dropped about 40%, which is apparently a low drop for an Adam Sandler movie. But! Y'know... Calling it just an Adam Sandler movie is being a bit unfair to someone, isn't? It's ignoring the poor, sad, often ignored person in the corner who also made this happen. The person who toils and toils and works their fingers to the bone and goes home after a long day of work only to spend all night guzzling white wine and crying and dialing his number again and again and again but never pushing 'Send' and then comes back to work in the morning, ready to go, as if nothing happened. We should not overlook this person, without whom none of this would be possible. I am, of course, talking about Brooklyn Decker. Yeah, she's calling Andy but decides she doesn't want to bother him. Who'd you think I was talking about? Is anyone else in this movie? Nope. Didn't think so.
5) Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son — $17M
Wong Kar-wai's second English-language feature marks his biggest American hit to date, a big breakthrough for someone considered to be one of world cinema's greatest directors. Here he tells us, in typical moody and lilting and lyrical fashion, the story of a father and a son repairing a damaged relationship while working together to solve a curious mystery. Based on the success of this picture, Wong Kar-wai is already at work on his next English film, The Nutty Professor III: KIump Up the Jams.
6) Justin Bieber: Never Say Never — $13.6M
Well, sometimes they say never. As expected, this film dropped a healthy 50-something percent from week one to week two, as the girlies only have so much money to spend on their fiery passion for Biebs. Plus, you know, exposing oneself to a controlled dose of Bieber can work to inoculate, like a vaccine might, against full-blown Bieber Fever. Of course sometimes it goes horribly awry and some dad who was dutifully taking his daughter to the movie ends up listening to "Baby" and weeping while he hugs a poster of the Canadian chanteur, but usually it guards against a full-on attack. In a few months cases of the Fever ought to have reached new lows, and by this time next year I won't believe I ever even wrote about Justin Bieber or used the term "Bieber Fever" or anything at all. By this time next year, we'll all be ghosts. And, if we're lucky, be exercised by Alex Pettyfer.