This week in humanity disappointing me, Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 held the top spot at the North American box office, while Killing Them Softly (my review) opened softer than a panda bear’s dong. Softly, which (luckily) cost just $15 million to make, was one of Brad Pitt’s worst openings ever, worse than Fight Club, Meet Joe Black, and The Devil’s Own, though still twice as much as The Assassination of Jesse James‘s entire run, which was Pitt and director Andrew Dominik’s last collaboration. Aw, poor Andrew Dominik. Aussie can’t catch a break.
To make matters worse, Killing Them Softly’s audiences gave it an “F” cinemascore, and keep in mind that these same audiences gave “A”s to Alex Cross (Laremy’s review) and Here Comes the Boom (my review). My simplistic response to this would be “this is why we can’t have nice things,” but I’d also point out that audiences for Alex Cross and Boom are going to be self-selecting groups (read: dipshits) for movies that give you exactly what you’d expect (i.e., crap). And as much as I enjoyed Killing Them Softly, it was basically one big, oppressively cynical F-you to America and everything you stand for. It’s a heavy-handed, angry, snot-nosed movie meant to piss people off – that’s what it did, and that’s a big part of why I enjoyed it. Argo (my review) was just as good, but it portrays America as we like to think of ourselves, and it got an A+ cinemascore. Which is to say, Joe Sixpack and Charla Cheesesnack aren’t hostile to quality, but they are a bit sensitive when it comes to criticism (you can have their EZ cheez when you pry it from their cold, partially-amputated diabetes fingers).
All told, with Twilight, Skyfall, and Lincoln (my review) still cleaning up, the overall box office was up 46% from last year. Long story short, people will continue to make movies, and studios will continue to be rightly scared of interesting ones.
[preliminary numbers via BoxOfficeMojo]