What a difference a month makes.
Bangkok Dangerous and its mediocre haul of $7.8 million ruled the box office during the first weekend of September. After an extremely profitable summer, theatres that were booming just weeks before hit a dead end due to a lack of dynamic new content. The weekend ended up being the lowest grossing one since September 2003.
Now, one month later, movie theatres just faced a totally opposite problem. There was too much content.
The first weekend of October produced a rush of films, and only a handful made it out alive. The rest are already considered casualties.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist both were able to deliver extremely solid numbers. Meanwhile, Appaloosa expanded its theatre count and increased its gross by a staggering 3,346% from the weekend before. Also landing in the success column, Bill Maher's Religulous managed to bring in $3.4 million from only 502 locations.
Then there were the casualties. Conservatives failed to show up to support An American Carol in the same way that they've been supporting Fireproof and Carol landed in 8th place, just barely ahead of Religulous. Even worse off were three new wide releases that failed to crack the top 10. Flash of Genius finished in 11th place, Blindness finished in 12th and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People opened all the way down the list in 19th place.
Even some films in their second weekend of release felt the sting of an overcrowded market. Writer/director Clark Gregg's debut film, Choke, was certainly one of them. The adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's best-selling novel opened in limited release during the last weekend of September and this past weekend should have served as a launching point for an expansion. Still, even after a desperate attempt by Palahniuk to put the names of people who went to see the movie in his next book, the film only managed to land in 23rd place and it dropped an unhealthy 61% from its opening frame. As a result, Gregg may have trouble getting another directing gig and studios may be a little more reluctant to take a risk on more of Palahniuk's works.
The chances of these casualties gaining more of an audience this coming weekend are slim to none. Body of Lies, City of Ember, The Express and Quarantine all open wide on Friday and they each have the potential to post solid numbers among different demographics.
Still, for all the loses, the industry as a whole cannot complain. This past weekend brought in a total box office haul of $113.6 million, which absolutely destroyed the $84.6 million gross of the first weekend of October 2007 when Disney's
The Game Plan
repeated as the box office champ.