On a slow weekend, a movie about a disease disaster started by Gwyneth Paltrow reigned supreme. Also this weekend, mixed martial arts made a wan debut, The Help continued to rage on, and a few people saw a strange movie.
1) Contagion — $23M
Despite yesterday's solemn anniversary, people still wanted to go to the movies this weekend to feel the tingle and dread of a global society unraveling into terror. We just like scaring the bejeebus out of ourselves, always have and always will. And this movie was pretty scary! In a realistic, sciencey, cold hand of bureaucracy kind of way. Plus it taught me an interesting lesson about how every public health official is a beautiful young woman, and that bloggers are always talking about how many unique visitors they have. And also that bloggers are all snaggle-toothed weirdos who don't much care for other people. These are important things to learn! Plus you get to see Gwyneth Paltrow like you've never seen her before! Very much so! Yikes. But yes, it is a good movie. Not something I would call fun by any measure, not even something I would really even call thrilling. It's more just grim and interesting, with plenty of scary images and sad images and Gwyneth Paltrow images that will be seared into your brain forever. Ew. Brain.
2) The Help — $8.6M
Over a month into its run and lots of people are still going to see this. There must be some repeat viewers at this point? Like, there must be some Helpanauts or Helpiacs by now, people who are writing fanfic and who are firmly Team Aibileen or Team Skeeter or Team Celia. (If anyone you know is Team Hilly, you should probably not be friends with that person anymore.) Just like Twilight's mushroom ravioli, these Helphards probably eat chocolate pie at their little gatherings. (Though hopefully only a few extreme, fringe Helpies make it using the movie's recipe.) It's just a whole crazy community of diehard fans who are super into The Help. It just had to have happened by now! Their daughters will roll their eyes at them because their moms are so lame, and then those daughters will stalk off to their rooms to continue work on their Taylor Lautner dolls, made from Teen Beat clippings and hair and other fibers they combed from the red carpet after the Eclipse premiere.
3) Warrior — $5.6M
Not a terribly auspicious debut for the mixed martial arts movie. If anyone was hoping a whole cottage movie industry about MMA would sprout up because of this movie, I think they were hoping in vain. I'd say that maybe the sport is just too brutal for most, but sadly the reality is probably that the movie doesn't seem brutal enough. Sure there's all the swollen, bloody eye sockets and other face kicking-related stuff, but there's also like feelings and family and Nick Nolte, and that junk is for wimps and simps and pussy boys. Perhaps if this movie was just two hours of people stomping and whomping on one another it would have done a tad better, at least better than The Help in its fifth weekend. But nope, they went and put emotion in and fellows who like kick fighting do not like emotion, that is just proven gender science. And as much as the ladies in their lives said they would go, drawn in as they were by the lumpy muscled appeal of Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, these kick-happy dudes just couldn't abide all the sappiness. Which does not bode well for my deeply touching gay krav maga movie, Krav Gaga. Oh well.
15) Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star — $1.45M
Though this film opened on a surprising number of screens, it certainly didn't attract many eyeballs. Probably, hopefully, because of its truly dreadful TV ads, which involved two random dudes screaming at the audience over clips of the film, which looks to be a cross between Kingpin, Boogie Nights, and Little Nicky. Nothing about that ad campaign was remotely appealing, apparently even to the Joe and Jane Thumbsuckers out there who will go to see just about anything. (See: the Resident Evil franchise's success.) Really just about nobody wanted to go see this movie. Which is too bad for Nick Swardson, because he's funny and likable, but really good for the advertising world, because we have learned that talking head scream-ads do not work. It was a bold experiment, but it was a bust, thank god. Much like Frankenstein, in fact. Perhaps some marketing person at Happy Madison will end up chasing these terrible ads to the ends of the Earth, only to be found much later by an expedition ship in the North Pole. They'll live long enough to tell the ship's captain their tale and then expire, done in by their own mad ambition.
26) Creature — $331K
Speaking of movies that inexplicably opened on a lot of screens, this Z-grade monster movie flickered on 1,500 screens this weekend. And each screen earned an average of $220 for the entire weekend. The box office nerds over at EW crunched those numbers and determined that each showing had an average of two people in attendance. Just two lonely souls. Were they together, I wonder? Or did they all come alone, monster movie fanatics who couldn't find anyone else to go with them? Who are these mysterious pairs of people who went to see this movie in random places across this country? That is, I think, this weekend's sad mystery. The mystery of who went to see Creature, odd little duos sitting in the dark, having an experience shared by only a few other weirdos. I wonder if they'll know each other somehow, feel some intrinsic pull toward one another when they pass at an airport or on a train. Will they somehow gravitate towards one another, against their knowing, and bump into each other's lives. Will they get married and have children and never know? Become lifelong friends? The curious magnetism of their closeness explained only years later, when this movie comes on Syfy and they both laugh and say at the same time "You know, I actually saw this in the theater on opening weekend." And they'll turn and stare at one another, feeling an odd revulsion but also a weary kind of love. "That was you," they'll say. "That was you that I felt that Saturday, long ago. That was you all along." And then they'll watch Creature again, and that will be that.