The summer movie season keeps starting earlier every year and with little consequence, as evidenced by X-Men: Wolverine, which opened on May 1st and brought in $180 million domestically—this despite generally sucking ass big time. But judging by the performance of Robert Zemeckis’ Disney’s Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, American consumers are not necessarily ready to start the Christmas season too early. As with those irritating radio stations that launch their carol rotation during Indian summer, many opted to tune out. Though A Christmas Carol easily won the weekend with $31 million in receipts, and could well settle into solid holiday business, the bean-counters were largely disappointed, especially given the steep uphill climb to recoup its $200 million budget. By contrast, The Men Who Stare At Goats and The Fourth Kind opened more modestly—with $13.3 million and $12.5 million, respectively, for third and fourth place—but have to considered successes in relation to cost (and in the face of middling reviews). Richard Kelly’s The Box was not so lucky, limping into sixth with a $7.9 million opening weekend, despite a catchy premise and a few “hey it’s not so bad” reviews.

Perhaps the biggest story of the box office weekend was Precious: Based On The Novel “Push” By Sapphire, which solidified its Oscar bonafides with an astonishing $100,000 per screen average on 18 screens. We didn’t realize such a figure was even possible, but after word leaked early Friday that all shows in New York City had already sold out, it was clear that a gaudy number was ahead. Building on good reviews and the high-profile backing of Oprah and Tyler Perry, it seems reasonable to believe the film will survive an ongoing backlash and viewer skepticism over its bleak subject matter. Could this be your Best Picture winner? Stay tuned…

Advertisement