Weekend Box Office: The Grudge 2 Takes the Weekend... Grudgingly

It wasn't screened for critics before it opened on Friday, but the lack of reviews is hardly ever a drawback for horror films, and that was the case with The Grudge 2 this weekend, which hauled in $22 million between Friday and Sunday. Laremy called it on Friday ... or at least he called Grudge 2's win of the weekend. He was overly optimistic as to by how much it would win the weekend -- he estimated almost $35 million for the film. Maybe some folks waited to check the reviews when they started coming in late Friday and Saturday, once a few brave critics snuck into the first public screenings on Friday and had time to spew their disappointment out across the Intertubes. Rotten Tomatoes has the film at a pathetic 8 percent freshness at the moment, with a general consensus developing around the film's pointlessness and lack of coherence: it's a "totally redundant follow-up to a mediocre original," says Frank Swietek at One Guy's Opinion; it "doesn't even try to make sense," according to Willie Waffle at Wafflemovies.com; and it "confirms that the series (and, perhaps, the J-horror genre as a whole) has finally run its course," or so thinks Nick Schrager at Slant Magazine.

Me? I avoided this new film entirely -- I didn't see the necessity of the first Hollywood Grudge, never mind a sequel, not when you could rent the totally ooky and spooky Japanese original [my review] perfectly easily from Netflix. This whole sequel nonsense is almost enough to make me reconsider my worship of producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, who were jointly also behind such delights as Xena: Warrior Princess. Maybe I'll just pretend that Grudge 2 never happened.

In grownup movie news, The Departed [my review] clocks in at No. 2 this weekend, earning about $18.7 million, which everyone involved must be extremely happy with. Not only is Martin Scorsese making money, he's getting some of his best reviews in years; it's the Hollywood perfect storm, a film that audiences and critics adore. Way to go, Marty.

Barry Levinson can hit the showers, though. His atrocious and cowardly Man of the Year [my review] earned about $12.5 million, surely a huge letdown for a film that should have been able to plug right into the current dissatisfaction among the public with politics and politicians. If you can't make a killing with a movie condeming Washingtonian business as usual in the immediate aftermath of the Mark Foley debacle and the clusterfuck of Iraq, maybe it's time to hang up your satirist's hat. Barry Levinson, this means you.

But we still love monarchs. The Queen and The Last King of Scotland, both still in limited release but slowly adding theaters, were up 154 and 107 percent, respectively, this weekend. That's simply astonishing. For comparison's sake, be aware that The Departed will be considered a strong performer with a drop -- a drop, mind you -- of "only" 30 percent.

It delights me to see fantastic films like these two continue to confound industry norms -- which lately demand big opening weekends and then are happy with massive dropoffs in later weeks -- by adding audiences and slowly building by word of mouth and critical acclaim. Hollywood used to work like this, and the paradigm still works ... but only when the films involved are really, really good.

(Box office numbers via Box Office Mojo.)

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MaryAnn Johanson

author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride

minder of FlickFilosopher.com