Did you go to the movies this weekend? Chances are excellent that you didn't ... and if you did, you probably didn't have to worry about getting good seats. The top movie this weekend barely made a blip: The Brave One scared up a paltry $14 million. I'm both appalled that that film -- an offensive argument in favor of vigilantism that's yet another brick in the wall of Jodie Foster's increasing irrelevance -- made even that much money, and yet glad that it didn't make any more, as Laremy thought it might.
In the No. 2 slot from Friday through Sunday was the revisionist Western 3:10 to Yuma, taking a respectable drop of less than 35 percent to earn another $9.15 million. The film is still far from recouping its reported (and modest) $55 million production budget, but I suspect it will still be playing moderately well at Thanksgiving; it's an excellent flick for both lovers of popcorn and fans of thoughtful drama, and the small drop says it's getting good word of mouth. This could be one of the slow-but-steady earners of the autumn.
Close behind Yuma at No. 3, earning $9.1 million, was the humiliation "comedy" Mr. Woodcock; much further behind, at No. 4, was the Korean monster movie Dragon Wars, with a teeny take of $5.4 million. Yikes. They'll be gone in a week, and on DVD in a month, and forgotten immediately afterward. Or would be, were there any justice.
As we'd expect from this season of platforming releases, though, some of the films on only a few screens did extraordinarily well. The best per-screen average of the weekend went to Eastern Promises, the fantastic second outing from director David Cronenberg and star Viggo Mortensen. It took in a little over half a million dollars at 15 venues across North America -- that's an astonishing $36,866 per screen. (The Brave One's was $5,087.) Across the Universe, the Beatles musical, made $29,782 on each of 23 screens. And the dark and somber In the Valley of Elah took in $16,666 at each of 9 venues.
This will be the shape of weekends to come throughout fall: crap playing everywhere will act as pure filler for audiences not in major markets while they wait to see the awards contenders, as those films expand slowly on word of mouth and glowing reviews.
It's a great season to be a movie fan ... as long as you're in no great hurry to see great films.
[Box office numbers via Box Office Mojo.]
MaryAnn Johanson (email me)
reviews, reviews, reviews! at FlickFilosopher.com