This Weekend's Winners: Nobody slept on Fox’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Paramount Vantage's doc Waiting for Superman performed heroically on limited screens.
This Weekend's Losers: Warner’s costly 3-D owl-based dud, Legends of the Guardians, never took off. Disney's Kristen Bell—starring comedy You Again crumbled (along with any chance of a studio-backed Veronica Mars feature film).
How it all went down: It’s probably true that more Millenials have heard of the Geico Gecko than Gordon Gekko, and it’s equally true that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a bit of an emotional retread. (This go ‘round, instead of two fathers battling over the morality of a son, we get two Wall Streeters battling for the affections of a daughter.) But even if "Greed-is-freed" didn’t cause a stampede, its $19 million opening was still good enough for both the weekend's No. 1 spot and a best-ever first weekend for director Oliver Stone.
No doubt this came as happy news to 20th Century Fox’s own portfolio managers Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulous, who’d suffered through their worst summer — Marmaduke, The A-Team, Knight and Day — in a decade, but we digress: The headline here is that an Oliver Stone movie shot down a 3D, CGI blockbuster from freaking Zack Snyder, which itself only barely edged out another Serious Movie For Grown Ups, Ben Affleck’s heist drama, The Town, which took in $16 million in its second weekend.
(We also have to wonder how much better Wall Street might have done had it not opened in the same breath as The Town, which lost barely a third of its mostly adult-filled audience from last week.)
Of course, Snyder’s costly Legends of the Guardians is a kids film, but that might’ve been exactly the problem: The sort of Snyder fans who ran to see him douse zombies with gasoline knew there’d be no flesh flambés in Legends. And parents know him as the guy who filmed hundreds of Spartans being slaughtered in 300. The dark logline of Legends probably didn’t help matters: A young barn owl is kidnapped and sent to an orphanage, which is actually where owlets are brainwashed into becoming soldiers... (“Stop!” cried the minivan-driving mothers, “We’ve heard enough!”)
Elsewhere, remember UPN? Neither does anyone else, apparently: The Kristen Bell bully redux comedy You Again parted few people from their lunch money. True, it only cost $20 million, but then again it managed to only earn Disney $8.3 million on over 2,500 screens.
Finally, the smart-set reigned on the specialty circuit, too: Davis Guggenheim's documentary about troubled public schools, Waiting for Superman clearly benefited from $100 million in free marketing from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg: Although Superman was in just 4 theaters in L.A. and New York, it still grossed a whopping per-theater-average of $35,000, the fourth-best of any specialty film released this year. (It also blew the doors off of Woody Allen's latest, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, which opened on just six screens and grossed a little over $160,000 — on par with his last film, Whatever Works, which as you may recall, did not.