General Public

You wanna talk per-screen? Sicko, Michael Moore's latest diatribe against what ails America today, is already striking a nerve. In the one theater in New York City where the film debuted this weekend it earned $70,000. That would make its per-screen, wait, lemme do the math ... $70,000. Just for a fun comparison, the most impressive per-screen for a wide release so far this year was Spider-Man 3 back in the spring, which clocked in with half that, and that was still an extraordinary number. And according to Box Office Mojo's astonishingly geeky breakdowns, this puts Sicko on a par with the debut of An Inconvenient Truth, which opened to a similarly amazing per-screen last spring. And just wait until next weekend, when Sicko goes wide and everyone gets a look at Moore's devastating takedown of health care in the U.S. ...

And what was supposed to be the big movie this weekend? Oh yeah, Evan Almighty. Turns out it's desperately unfunny, and not very "inspirational" either, and so earned a pathetic $32 million. But wait, isn't that pretty good? That sounds like a lot of money. Apparently Universal was saying $40 million would be the absolute minimum the film could possibly earn (which makes Laremy's Friday prediction for the film -- $42 million -- sound even less generous that he was probably trying to be). Most of the mainstream press is playing nice, touting Evan as the weekend's big winner -- hoorah! -- and so it falls to the bloggers to point out that Evan's performance this weekend is, as Film School Rejects terms it, "ungodly [and] purgatory-worthy." Ouch.

So it's kinda funny -- you know, like how Evan is really not funny -- that the No. 2 movie this weekend is actually a much more noteworthy success. 1408, which is quite an enjoyable little psychological horror flick, took in just over $20 million. (The film has already almost earned back its production budget, which the $175 million Evan would never do if it played through all eternity.) Despite what our Cargill thought, plopping a dark, autumnal-ish grownup horror movie in the middle of the summer blockbuster season, which is supposedly the domain of the kids, was a smart move after all.

[Box office numbers via Box Office Mojo.]


MaryAnn Johanson (email me)

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