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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Warhorse. Tintin. We Bought a Zoo. Mission: Impossible 4. Sherlock Holmes 2. I don’t remember ever having this many adult options at the multiplexes in Christmas seasons past. Each movie has something to offer that is potentially interesting to me as a moviegoer. I could potentially pick two of these films to see at the theaters, perhaps three at the most. I would like to see M:I 4 on the Imax screen just for the pure spectacle of it all. I want to see Warhorse for the story and Tintin for the special effects and adventure. Tattoo seems intriguing for the mystery around its story and Zoo and Holmes are potentially good date movies (though I haven’t even seen the first Holmes movie yet).
According to the numbers at Box Office Guru (www.boxofficeguru.com), attendance is down for a second straight year in theaters. Of course it doesn’t help that Avatar, Holmes 1, and Chipmunks 2 grossed a collective nine billion dollars in 2009. But some of Hollywood’s release date choices have been downright baffling to me lately, and that includes Tattoo’s Christmas day release. Why release a staggeringly violent tale of incest and murder on the happiest, cheeriest, brightiest day in America? Tattoo opened in third with a soft twelve million over the weekend, suggesting it may have a tough road ahead to profitability. Also inexplicably opening on Christmas day, the not-screened-for-critics horror film Darkest Hour, which tanked at number nine with only three million in receipts.
Perhaps the most perplexing opening weekend conundrum, however, was the decision to pit Spielberg vs. Spielberg in releasing Tintin and Warhorse on the exact same weekend. And with each covering somewhat similar, non-American subject matter, receipts have been lukewarm for one (Warhorse) and downright stinky for the other (Tintin). Though released by different studios, surely Buena Vista (Disney) and Paramount had to know their audiences would cross and somewhat cancel each other out. Or maybe they just didn’t care? With Tintin grossing a reported 240 million dollars overseas already, and with Warhorse’s strong reviews and almost assured word-of-mouth, perhaps opening weekend success was not only not in the cards, but also somewhat unnecessary to begin with.
Back to my original point: it’s almost impossible for me to get to theaters to see each of these movies this holiday season. Hollywood should at this point realize that not every movie they put out is going to be a gangbuster success. It’s completely unrealistic. Staggered releases are easier on the average moviegoer like myself. Loading a holiday weekend with five new films is not only bad business, but contributes to a public perception of weakness of the films when reports are released noting significant downturns in audience attendance. I’ll go see M:I4 and Warhorse, but there’s no way I can get to the rest of them (at least until they’re in the RedBox).