It just goes to show you that no matter how terrible a sequel you come up with, people will still go see it if it involves athletic women in tight leather costumes kicking the snot out of mutant smurfs. I'm not sure what that says about us as a society, but Americans turned out to give Underworld: Evolution the highest opening weekend of 2006 so far. Nevermind that critics and fans alike have been giving it mediocre reviews at best, it was the widest opening show this weekend and took the vampire's share of the loot.
The other new arrival in the top ten was based-on-a-true-story End of the Spear. Despite a low key, grass roots sort of marketing campaign the movie made the number eight slot but was fourth in per theater earnings among the top ten list. Not bad for a movie on a shoe-string budget of $10 million dollars. On the bright side, half the profits from the film will go to charity and the movie is nearly half way there to turning some proceeds. Having seen it I can understand critics who feel its production values are a bit rough (it has the feel of something filmed back in the 80s, and at times the pacing falters) but the low blows over its spiritual content seem a bit ridiculous. It would appear that some critics feel it's bad form to tell a present-day story about overcoming violence if religion is somehow involved. I don't care for movies that bash their audience over the head with out of place religious messages and was glad the story managed to remain true to the real life ideals and beliefs of the characters without getting preachy.
Brokeback Mountain forges forward with its upward climb as the studio continues to slowly widens its release. Now showing in nearly 1200 theaters it jumped from number nine to fifth place this week. At this point there are no plans for the release to widen any further. This has marked one of the slowest expansions of a dramatic films availability, a wise move on the part of a shrewd studio that understands the economics of supply and demand, especially where a movie with huge controversy potential is concerned. It will be interesting next week to see if the movie has reached the peak or if there's a further summit up ahead.
Colin Farell's new Pocahontas pic The New World opened wider this week to very little fan fare. After a month in limited showing it expanded to 800 theaters but didn't do half as well as Brokeback Mountain did at about the same size release. No word on when or if The New World will broaden its horizons but such a move seems inevitable. With only $4.5 million in the bank it has a ways yet to go to recover its $30 million budget (not to mention all those marketing costs).
King Kong finally slipped out of the top ten, conceding overall victory to Aslan and the gang in Narnia. It's not surprising though. Without a major fan base to back it up (like the Lord of the Rings had) Kong has faced a hard time sustaining repeat viewings given its 3+ hour running time. Maybe if they brought back the intermission?
Next week Big Momma plays Mrs. Doubtfire, Mr. Franco goes to Annapolis and Nanny McPhee gets busy racing the rescue of mistreated kids. Will Emma Thompson in creepy make up or Martin Lawrence in a creepy fat suit reign supreme? My money's on the nanny. I'm not telling which one.