Thursday, December 27, 2007

'The Great Debaters' takes $3.6M opening day; 'I Am Legend' audience off its rocker

Christmas gave "The Great Debaters" a so-so present. It earned respectful, if reserved, reviews from the national critics, and garnered a respectably modest $3.6 million on Christmas day. The tally was lower than one major Christmas day release: "AVP: Requiem" at $9.5 million. "The Water Horse" drowned with $2.4.

Since "Debaters" opened on just 1,164 screens, $3.6 million isn't too shabby for a period drama. ("Water Horse" opened on 2,772, by contrast.) We'll see if more people buy tickets during the coming week.

National box office was up 34 percent from last year, according to the Associated Press. You can read the whole chart here at Box Office Mojo.

My gut feeling is that "The Great Debaters" is going to need a bigger marketing push to get it seen by a larger audience. A Golden Globe nomination helps its cause, but as a mag editor told me a couple weeks ago, "It has an unfortunate title." "Debaters" doesn't exactly scream holiday movie-going escapism.

Did you see "The Great Debaters" this weekend, by the way? Speak.

P.S. Competition for "The Great Debaters" is fierce right now. "I Am Legend," "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "National Treasure" will continue to command the bulk of the business.

I went to a 6:20 screening of "I Am Legend" last night and it was about two-thirds full. It was one of the most bizarre audiences I've witnessed.

Protective Will Smith opens gun closet = kids cheering.

Lonely Will Smith talks to mannequins = kids texting to lonely virtual friends.

Resourceful Will Smith accidentally impales leg with pocket knife = adults laughing.

Audience puzzling Alex = Alex disliking movie.


Villager said...

I went to see the movie with my 70-year old mother, 14-year old daughter and 12-year old cousin. We all enjoyed the movie very much. I'm a grown-azzed man ... and the movie had me in tears on a number of occassions. It was a very powerful movie. I look forward to seeing it again!

I read your interviews with the three young actors. Well done.

As an aside, there is a Black male character in the movie named Wilson. He serves the three debaters their food while they are studying for that final Harvard debate. Later you see Wilson in the audience at the debate. I felt as if there was a back-story to the Wilson character. Do you know his story?

peace, Villager

Villager said...

forgot the follow-up comment feature...

Alexandyr Kent said...

I don't know the Wilson story, no. I do remember however thinking that his story had been mysteriously edited out of the final cut. An intriguing character, to be sure, and I'll see if I can learn more about it.

barrys said...

I forget the real name of the "Wilson" character in "The Great Debaters," but once saw him in a one-man play called "'Medal of Honor' Rag." Superb actor. I, too, am a grown-azzed man and the movie had me crying several times, as well.

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