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"TMNT" Bests "300" at the weekend box office. Does it mean anything? NO!

Category: 300 News
Article Date: March 26, 2007 | Publication: Joel Siegel's Morning After | Author: Joel Siegel
Source: ABC

Posted by: maryp

"Turtles Make Soup of 300" is the way E! Online headlined its story, typical of the way the popular press handled the weekend box office results. More evidence to support my theory that the popular press shouldn't report on the weekend box office.

Is "TNMT" a better movie than "300"? A more popular movie than "300"? Will it do better at the box office than "300"? Will its success this past weekend have any effect on future Hollywood films? Four NOs.

The numbers: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" a flashy but funless CGI version of the 1990s phenomenon opened in 3,110 theaters and did a weekend gross of $25.6 million for an average of $8,220 per theater.

"300" played in 3,280 theaters, grossed $20.2 million for an average of $6,160 per theater, but this was in "300's" third week.

"300" has grossed $162.1 million in three weeks; "TMNT" will be lucky to hit half that in three months. "300" dropped 38 percent from the week before a drop of less than 50 percent is considered very good by Hollywood standards.

Media reporting on weekend box office grosses, focusing on the No. 1 film, has hurt filmgoers and quality filmmakers as Hollywood plays go-for-broke.

Advertising is expensive, and prints are expensive. If you open a two-hour movie in 3,000 theaters, you spend something like $9 million on film alone. And film is perishable. And if you're talking about an independent film that cost $10 million to produce, you're not going to spend $9 million on film, so no way you can compete with the studios. And reporting which film did the biggest gross without qualifications how many screens, how many weeks has it been open, how large was the drop from the week before is like giving half a sports score.

You turn on ESPN. "Here are the latest scores: Knicks 94, Yankees 7, Rangers 3." Who won? Who played? Are the games over? Sunday night and Monday morning movie grosses are reported the same unfortunate way.

Meanwhile Chris Rock's "I Think I Love My Wife" sunk like a stone in its second week, with a $1,500-per-screen average. Less than $1,000 means send flowers.

I gave some speeches about the movies in Cincinnati this past week. Folks there are concerned about the rating system, films rated R that, they feel, kids should not see. I agree. I took blogger hell for walking out on "Clerks II," and both "Jackass" movies deserved NC-17 ratings as well. Variety focused on the horror films that somehow had earned R ratings with graphic blood-sport beheadings.

One of the problems is the NC-17 rating itself. It's a euphemism for an X rating, co-opted by porn flicks. Most TV and newspapers won't accept advertising for NC-17 films, Blockbuster won't sell or rent their DVDs, many outlets won't review them. An NC-17 rating means no advertising, no reviews, no DVD sales.

One possible solution: a new rating. How about R-17, equivalent to the "hard R" reviewers (including this one) often talk about. No one under 17 at all. Period. Keep the NC-17 for sexually explicit and ultraviolent films. It's an idea I would welcome.

Question: Did an X-rated film ever win an Oscar? Yes. "Midnight Cowboy." Today I'm not sure "Midnight Cowboy" would rate an R.


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