Martin Scorsese garnered the biggest opening weekend of his career as The Departed earned $27 million to finish at No. 1, according to Sunday?s estimates. That figure nearly tripled the filmmaker?s previous-best premiere, Cape Fear?s $10.3 mil bow 15 years ago, and it was buoyed by wicked-strong reviews (the Boston-set crime thriller scored a sky-high 88 out of 100 on Metacritic.com) and wicked-good word of mouth (it drew an A- CinemaScore from audiences) — all of which portends some staying power in the weeks to come.
But the travails of Leo and Matt and Jack aren?t all that people are talking about in movie-money land. That?s because, once again, EW.com?s box office savant accurately predicted just about all the big openings. And he, of course, is me. And me is very pleased with meself. I said that The Departed would make $28 mil, and it almost did. I said that Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning would earn $20 mil at No. 2, and it came in second with $19.2 mil. (That?s down from the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake?s $28.1 mil bow, sure, but still quite good considering that this movie?s main draw was the dude who lectured us on the subtle differences between his ”rifle” and his ”gun” and the proper etiquette for ”fighting” and ”fun” in Full Metal Jacket.) I said that Open Season would experience a modest drop at No. 3 with $14 mil, and it experienced a modest drop at No. 3 with a slightly stronger $16 mil. Okay, so I slightly underestimated Employee of the Month?s solid premiere at No. 4: It brought in $11.8 mil.
But the point is ? well, there?s a few points, actually. One, I?m great. Two, I have to get a haircut so that I look good in my EW.com Employee of the Month picture. Three, my main man Jason now owes me some Barry Manilow tickets (cough ?em up, baby!). And four, like the undefeated, fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines, I?m totally dominating the line of scrimmage and also deserve to be bumped past West Virginia in the rankings.
While we wait for my ego to deflate, I want to talk about something that always perplexes me in the CinemaScore reports I receive every week. Along with the average grades that I usually mention, like The Departed?s A- mark printed above, CinemaScore also breaks down each film?s audience by demographics based on age, sex, and things like whether people went to a movie because of its subject matter, stars, or director. All very valuable info. In the case of TCM:TB, for example, 50 percent of the audience was male, 3 percent was eligible for AARP membership, 73 percent was just horror-movie fans, and 40 percent bought a ticket because they dug the ”subject matter” — sickos. All of this was according to CinemaScore. Anyway, then there was this little stat that caught my eye: 4 percent say they went because of TCM:TB?s director, an apparently 30-year-old South African named Jonathan Liebesman whose only other major credit was the 2003 spooker Darkness Falls. I mean, really? I?m sure Liebesman is a nice guy and good filmmaker, but if my calculations are correct, that means there are over 100,000 Jonathan Liebesman partisans in the U.S. and Canada. Which is awfully surprising — and not just because it dwarfs the number of members in the Paul At Exhibitor Relations Fan Club. I dunno, just a thought, I guess. CinemaScore reports statistics like this a lot and I find them hard to believe.
Back to the bucks, The Guardian stayed steady at No. 5 in its second week with $9.4 mil, a moderate 46 percent drop. And in limited release, ThinkFilm?s sex-filled Shortbus and New Line?s sex-filled-but-less-graphic Little Children each averaged over $20,000 on 6 and 5 screens, respectively. Meanwhile, Paul at Exhibitor Relations took a break from autographing a stack of head shots to report that the overall box office this weekend was up a huge 11 percent over the same period last year. So Barry Manilow tickets all around!