Here's a number I really like: $42,928. That's how much the Coen Brothers' new crime thriller No Country for Old Men earned this past weekend on each of 28 screens. Obviously, eager Coen fanatics were ready for a new fix... and it's the best opening the brothers have had, on a per-screen basis, ever. You'd have to go back to 2000 to find their next closest opening-weekend success, when O Brother Where Art Thou? enjoyed an impressive per-screen of $39,020.
Here's another number I like: $35,000. That's how much the based-on-terrible-reality drama Holly earned on its one screen. I wrote last week about how Holly is not "just" a movie, how it demands more from viewers than that we merely shut off our brains and munch some popcorn. It's gratifying to see that a tough film isn't turning audiences off... even if this was "just" an art house audience. (See part of my interview with Holly's star, Ron Livingston, here.)
Oh, I suppose the big movie news of the weekend is always supposed to be which movie raked in the most money overall, but sometimes that's not the real story. The jockeying of the top movies this weekend looked like a rerun, in fact, with two movies leftover from last weekend merely swapping positions on the chart. Bee Movie, earning $26 million, jumped to No. 1 from No. 2, and American Gangster, earning $24.3 million, dropped to No. 2 from No. 1. Gangster had the better per-screen, though: $7,949 versus Bee's $6,592... neither of which, of course, has anything on the Coens or Holly.
The top new movie was at No. 3:
Fred Claus earned $19.2 million, which is probably better than it deserves. I kinda like it, despite its many flaws, but Film.com's Eric D. Snider hates it, as do most other critics. At No.4, Lions for Lambs -- another film I like very much, while most other critics don't -- took in a slender $6.7 million. At No. 5 in its third week, the charming Dan in Real Life dropped only 25 percent to earn another $5.9 million.
The big show comes in the stretch of holiday time, starting next weekend and reaching through Thanksgiving: with 10 movies opening or expanding wide over those two weekends, it should be an interesting horse race.
MaryAnn Johanson (email me)
reviews, reviews, reviews! at FlickFilosopher.com