The Dark Knight surprised no one by performing impressively at the box office. We all knew it would win the weekend. It had everything working toward that end: a talented star who died too soon in his final full performance; film number two in a hot franchise; and the adulation of pretty much every critic out there. There was no way this movie was going to open at anything but number one at the box office.
There are just a few days till the golden statuettes are handed out. You're running out of time to see all the nominees so you can sound like you know what you're talking about at your Oscar party. Don't panic! You have options. You could call in sick and go on a nonstop marathon of movie watching, get your guests liquored up on party night so they just think you know what you're talking about, or tell everyone you're taking a vow of silence until Capitol Hill sorts out this whole economic stimulus thing. All these carry with them a certain amount of risk, though, so I propose a fourth option: just watch Pixar's WALL-E instead. Seriously. Recently I was embarking on my own movie marathon to re-familiarize myself with the choices. I started with WALL-E, which is up for an award in the Animated Feature category, and it occurred to me how it shared many elements of other Oscar nominees. Really, if you've seen this endearing story, you've seen most of the others. Keep reading to find out how adorable robots can help you out come the night of the 81st Academy Awards.
I really should have looked into studying merchandising when I went to college. It seems to be one of those fields in which scores of people throw their ideas against a wall and every single thing sticks. And the company out there with the most crap stuck to their walls? Disney. I don't think they turn anyone's idea down. A plush chair in the shape of Ratatouille's Anton Ego? Sure, kids! Have a seat in the scary guy's lap. I think I even remember an Aladdin candy dispenser in the shape of a lamp that you had to actually rub in order to get the goods. Walking through the hallways of their merchandising/licensing department is probably like running the gauntlet through a cafeteria food fight, only instead of getting beaned by half-eaten tuna sandwiches and little cartons of milk, you're dodging stuffed Monsters Inc. plush dolls and 101 Dalmatians lunch boxes.
It seems that I owe MWoP blogger Odie Henderson a dollar. Odie swore to me that Pineapple Express would not beat The Dark Knight at the box office this weekend, that in fact Batman would stay perched on his high gargoyle until Tropic Thunder came along. While that latter part remains to be seen, it does seem like my estimation of Seth Rogen and James Franco as Bat-breakers on a par with any of Arkham Asylum's inmates was incorrect.
Both new movies in wide release debuted strong at the box office, a sign that the box office numbers aren't slowing this summer, despite our nation's economic crunch.
To no one's surprise, Pixar's latest, WALL-E debuted at No. 1 (don't Pixar's movies always? I can't find one that hasn't), taking in $62.5 million, which ties it with Monsters, Inc. for the third-highest Pixar opening weekend, after The Incredibles and Finding Nemo.
Hancock dominated the 4th of July weekend -- both the three-day and the five-day versions -- at the box office. The movie's $66 million weekend and its even more impressive $107 million five-day take prove one thing: Will Smith not only still owns Independence Day (he has since Independence Day, really), but he also showed that he really is the last movie star. (Take that, Time magazine and George Clooney!)
WALL-E has been out for six days, and already it is #6 on the imDB top 250 films of all time. This development, along with its 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes has people talking about a possible Best Picture nomination. Not too shabby for a movie that plays at times like a cartoon version of Mike Judge's great-in-theory, terrible-in-execution film Idiocracy. Considering the Best Animated Film Oscar category's existence, WALL-E's Best Picture chances are nonexistent. However, if there's a category anywhere in the awards world for Best Product Placement, WALL-E would win hands-down. Its Eve character looks like a cross between an iPod and a sex toy; if I could rechristen it, I'd call Eve the "iBrator."
Hellboy II: The Golden Army accomplished a couple of major box-office feats this weekend: It unseated Hancock in a superhero vs. superhero competition for the No. 1 spot (though not by much), and it managed to get halfway to the first Hellboy movie's domestic box office take in its opening weekend.