Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” had a big night last night — $4.1 million for its second Friday. It finished fourth on Friday night, ahead of Cameron Diaz in “The Box.” Not bad. For the weekend, “This Is It” should wind up with $7.2 million U.S. That will bring it to a total — with worldwide counted in– between $126 million and $130 million. Jackson moon walks away with easily the highest-grossing documentary and/or concert film in history. A total of $250 million through Thanksgiving weekend isn’t an unreasonable expectation now. That’s exactly what Sony and AEG hoped for. It was just the miscalculations of some blogs that got the message mixed up.
But what about that Cameron Diaz movie? “The Box” is a bust. Of course, she’s now filming “Knight and Day” with Tom Cruise, but it just sounds awful. And Cruise is a boxoffice question mark after all his negative Scientology publicity, today’s news about his odd parenting, and the performances of his last two movies, “Valkyrie” and “Lions for Lambs.” Diaz is not exactly in a sure-thing situation. She’s a lot of fun, and has made some kooky movies, but she could be headed into Meg Ryan territory of uncertainty. What Diaz needs is a hit show on HBO or Showtime, a comedy series that goes to her strong suit.
Meantime, as far as documentaries go, Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” is just about dead with less than $14 million in ticket sales. It’s too bad — this was an excellent film, maybe Moore’s best and most mature work. It’s a huge money loser for which Overture — sources say — paid about $30 million. Overture is doing much better with “Law Abiding Citizen,” a straight ahead genre flick with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler, a movie most of us won’t see til it hits cable or airplanes. But “LAC” is making money, and that’s what counts.
Still, the most puzzling of this fall’s releases is Focus Feature’s Coen Brothers film “A Serious Man.” Just about dead 35 days in at $5 million. This is a film I have a great affection for. There are terrific performances by Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, and Fred Melamed. But just as I predicted, something got lost in translation here. Like other recent Focus releases, “A Serious Man” has a serious marketing problem. The result is that Focus, as usual, punts. They make good movies but can’t find a breakout hit. They’ve got not one $100 million movie in a group composed of “Brokeback Mountain,” “Atonement,” “Burn After Reading,” and even “Coraline.” “A Serious Man” should have been the hot indie go-to movie of the fall of 2009.