grindhouse_bigfinalposter.jpgSUNDAY AM: Blades of Glory, a PG-13 co-production between DreamWorks and MTV Films and released by Paramount, finished Easter weekend No. 1 starting its second week out. The figure skating comedy made $23 mil on 3,410 for Friday-Saturday-Sunday, just a 30% drop from its opening weekend. Right now, its new cumulative box office is $68.3 mil. One fact not  being touted in this Will Ferrell/John Heder starring pic’s success is that it came from Red Hour Films, which is Ben Stiller’s production company. So chalk up another big win for the actor/director/producer who is rapidly becoming the king of Hollywood comedy. But today, major players in the movie capital were talking about the utter collapse at the box office of Grindhouse, that double-feature from celebrated directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. (I had wondered here if the movie could live up to the Weinsteins’ hype.) Despite decent reviews, the hard “R”-rated pic filled with blood and violence took in just $12 million this weekend — nowhere near even the lowest $20 mil opening predicted (or the $25 mil debut anticipated after midnight sneaks were arranged in major cities). blades1.jpgThe weekend take was far, far below the openings for, say, Rodriguez’s Sin City ($29.1 mil) or Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1 ($22 mil) and 2 ($25.1 mil). The Weinstein Co. has been plagued by bomb after bomb since its 2005 inception after Miramax founders Harvey and Bob couldn’t come to terms with Disney. The new company had a lot riding on this pic in terms of reputation. (Not to mention money: I hear the real budget for Grindhouse is $67.5 mil though Harvey and Bob were spinning it as low $50s.) But the take of only $5 mil Friday, $4 mil Saturday, and an estimated $2.9 mil Sunday from the 2,624 theaters where the Planet Terror and Death Proof combo (complete with its block of fake movie trailers) is playing, was only good enough for 4th place among the Top 10 movies. Worse, the the box office dropped an unusually large 19% from Friday to Saturday. And its per screen average was anemic, meaning that the pic was playing in near empty venues. This is a body blow to TWC, which had been touting its relationships with filmmakers like Tarantino and Rodriguez to attract investors. I reported Thursday that TWC’s Dimension label had been spooked by the only so-so tracking that Grindhouse has been receiving; arewedoneyet_posterbig.jpgthat’s why a bunch of last-minute midnight screenings were added to Friday’s official release date. I’d also heard there were some 11 pm screenings Thursday which technically shouldn’t be included in the movie’s final weekend take but probably will if TWC is desperate enough. (This is a favorite Hollywood trick.) Clearly, the Weinsteins’ legendary prowess for media exploitation, which had been working overtime on this exploitation movie, couldn’t hide the problems of a running time over 3 hours, a release date delayed by half a year, and the subject matter’s limited audience appeal. Plus, younger and hungrier directors in recent years have been pushing the envelope to create wilder and rawer horror pics, so it seems Tarantino and Rodriguez couldn’t compete on their more famous playing field. Instead, this weekend followed 2007’s trend of making family films and PG-13 comedies the favorites at the box office. (more…)