Wreck-It Ralph Wrecks Flight's Take-Off - Week 1 | Skyfall | The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey | The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

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Wreck-It Ralph Wrecks Flight's Take-Off - Week 1

Skyfall
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Wreck-It Ralph
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Flight
Jack Reacher
The Man with the Iron Fists
Pac Man Fever gripped the nation and even Blinky was on the run as the fictional retro-game Wreck-It Ralph dominated the arcades like it was Dragon's Lair on steroids! People were putting extra monitors on top of the Wreck-It Ralph units just so more people could gather around and see. They didn't care if it was Asteroids with the hyperspace or the shields, they only knew they had to watch... and watch they did!

Wreck-It Ralph gobbled-up $49.1 million in quarters as it became the biggest animated Disney non-Pixar opener ever. While it barely topped Tangled's $48.7 million in 2010, it was $15 million more than last year's Puss In Boots debut which went on to make almost $150 million. If Wreck-It Ralph can follow a similar trajectory, it should be a solid bet as a Top Five film this holiday season. That is, assuming of course, Ralph doesn't wreck-it.

This movie should really be seen as the Primary Colors of video game movies. Yeah yeah, John Travolta wasn't "really" Bill Clinton in that movie and, sure, Emma Thompson didn't base any of her performance on Hillary. I think we all know what Wreck-It Ralph is really about: Donkey Kong. In essence, Donkey Kong really is the Hulk of video game characters. He just wants to be left alone, but Mario plays the role of General Ross who just keeps pursuing DK to the ends of the earth... or at least the ends of a construction site that apparently has a fully functional pie factory. Eventually, Nintendo realized their error and rewarded the pixilated simian his own country. Unfortunately, if any Ralph is going to be granted a country, it's going to go to Happy Day's Ralph Malph first. He's probably had it harder than any of them.

Oscar-buzz and upside-down planes didn't seem to make much of a difference for Denzel Washington this weekend. Flight boarded $25 million, which was a slight seat upgrade over Unstoppable's $22.7 and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3's $23.4 million, but it was flying coach compared to his bigger debuts such as Safe House ($40.2 mill), The Book of Eli ($32.8 mill), and American Gangster ($43.6 mill). Out of all of those films, only Safe House and American Gangster were able to surpass the $100 million mark generally required to even be a contender in any Top Five. Unless there's enough word-of-mouth to keep this plane in the air, it looks like bumpy skies ahead.

Then again, let's look how Denzel's American Gangster co-star fared this weekend. Russell Crowe continued his "Why Do We Pay Him This Much Again?" campaign as The Man with the Iron Fists couldn't get the lead out and grabbed only $8.2 million. Granted, this film wasn't in the wheel house that would've interested Crowe's older fan base, yet it wasn't seemingly able to interest any fan bases whatsoever. Even the generically titled and no-named cast of Ninja Assassin performed stronger in November 2009 with a $13.3 million start. This flick rusted really fast.

The Top Five If Today Was Martin Luther King Jr. Observance:

#1. Wreck-It Ralph - $49.1 million
#2. Flight - $25 million
#3. The Man with the Iron Fists - $8.2 million
#4. n/a
#5. n/a

*****

Extra Bonus Section

Finally, as the resident expert who's lost his own pool almost 30 times in a row, it's time for me to display the brilliance that only I possess as I share with you the reasoning behind my own Top Five selections. You have nothing at all to fear... unless you realize you've picked the same exact five films. That means you've probably done something terribly wrong.

At the top, it was a struggle between The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Even with Breaking Dawn - Part 1's slightly diminished gross, the final Harry Potter and final Lord of the Rings film both way exceeded their previous film. I assume the same can happen here and pushing Breaking Dawn - Part 2 into the $320 million territory. With The Hobbit opening later, it might not cross that mark (if it does) until after the January 21 end date. Very tempting!

Instead, all those gabillions of Lord of the Rings DVDs sold over the past 10 years has to mean something. Those guys are going to come out and some have probably even sired children that they'll bring along with them this time. I know, it seems unlikely, but it's like women who move to Alaska because the odds are better. A single gal crashing a Tolkien convention is bound to get 50 numbers an hour. So, with The Hobbit in play and the ticket price increase over the last decade, I picked it to come in first with $343 million as my guestimate. This leaves Breaking Dawn - Part 2 as my #2.

Skyfall seemed an easy choice for #3. Feels like the time is right for it to do even better than the last two films and it might even become the first Bond film to reach $200 million. Not a bad way to celebrate 23 movies in 50 years!

Wreck-It Ralph felt like the consensus family choice of the season. Rise of the Guardians seems a little too serious. Ralph has the opening Holiday launch date, which's worked well for Puss in Boots and Mastermind, and should sail smoothly until at least Thanksgiving.

#5 proved to be my toughest selection. As I wrote, Rise of the Guardians seemed flat. Flight didn't look to have enough air. Lincoln feels more archaic than historic. Turning to December, the only films there that even have a chance are Jack Reacher, Django Unchained, and Les Miserables. Making Tom Cruise relevant was a Mission more Impossible than anything in Ghost Protocol, yet the film did just that. Still, it didn't feel like it would be enough to make this "should've been" Steven Seagal movie into another tour-de-force. Les Mis could make Mamma Mia money. That's some serious dough... or it might just make 24601. I couldn't take the chance so I turned to Django. It feels like the only hip and different movie out at the time. If it could make an Inglorious Basterds-esque $130 million, that should be plenty to secure the #5 slot... and help to seat me back on the throne I've been denied too long!




by Matt Neuenburg on 11/05/2012

Movies Mentioned in this Post: Django Unchained, Flight, Jack Reacher, Les Miserables, Skyfall, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Man with the Iron Fists, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Wreck-It Ralph
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