It’s Good To Be 17 AGAIN

     April 19, 2009

Written by Nicole Pedersen



Total Gross


17 Again




State of Play




Monsters vs. Aliens




Hannah Montana




Fast & Furious




Crank: High Voltage




Observe & Report








I Love You, Man




The Haunting in Connecticut



So far the April box office has belonged to the kiddies. We had DreamWorks’ triumphant 3D “Monsters” which, after a brief “Fast & Furious” detour, led to Miley Cyrus and her uber-innocent “Hannah Montana the Movie”. Now Miley’s fellow Disney alum Zac Efron has re-entered the youth market with “17 Again”. Efron dropped his song and dance routine and was rewarded with a number one debut for his WB/New Line comedy. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that “17” knocked “Hannah Montana” off her throne – after all, the studio had Efron out there pushing this movie like it was bubblegum-flavored crack. The surprise is that – with the winsome Efron out in front, a resurgent box-office and an extra-wide opening in 3,255 theatres – the film didn’t do a wee bit better than $7,393 per screen.

Now, do not get me wrong – a $24 million opening for a comedy that probably cost about that to make is nothing to sneeze at. But it just isn’t on par with the $34 million Disney saw for “Hannah Montana” one week ago. Luckily I have a theory that should put this disparity into perspective:

I happen to know a 13 year old girl. She gets good grades, is unfailingly polite and she loves her some Zac Efron. When I asked her a few days ago if she and her friends were planning on seeing “17 Again” she told me: “I want to, but my mom won’t let me because it’s PG-13”. In other words, this mom believed that a PG-13 movie was too adult for her 13 year old!! “Hannah Montana the Movie”, on the other hand, went out rated G – draw your own conclusions.

As for the fate of America’s G-rated princess, Miley had a tough week. She had to fend off an attack upon her out-sized gums from comedian Jamie Foxx all while watching her movie fall over 61% in its second week. Last year’s “Best of Both Worlds” concert film also had a big drop in its second week, but – as neither film cost more than 17 million to make – Disney is still a big fan of enormous gums.

With the kids sated by either the attack of the Disney stars or by the still-potent “Monsters vs. Aliens” (which is rockin’ a sizable $251.5 million total worldwide), grownups also had a nice choice of counter-programming alternatives at the multiplex.

The number two spot this weekend went to just such a film – Universal’s “State of Play” starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck. The last time Crowe was in theatres it was with the disappointing “Body of Lies” last October. “Body” was a critical wash and brought in only $39 million domestically by the end of its run. So far “State of Play” is off to a better start. It’s at 80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and that $14 million opening could indicate that the film possesses long-term potential a la “Knowing”. “State of Play” is never going to be an old-school Russell Crowe blockbuster, of course – those days seem to be gone for good – but at least it has a chance of earning back its reported $60 million budget.

Grownups were also courted by the sequel to the 2006 cult classic “Crank”. The Jason Stathan original cost only $12 million to make and has brought in over $70 million to date – paving the way for this week’s sequel. “Crank” and its writing/directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have a legion of devoted fans out there – the greater part of which was mysteriously absent at the theatre this weekend. “Crank 2” came in much lower than the $10 million that Lakeshore anticipated (based largely on the $10.5 million the original opened with three years ago). Number 6 with $6.5 million was the best “High Voltage” could manage, which added up to a low-watt screen average of only $2,928.

Overall the weekend past was another strong one – although the total for the top ten films was a bit more modest than over the past two weeks. With only one weekend left before “Wolverine” tears it up, there appears to be no clear-cut favorite among the clearance-house releases due out next Friday. These include “The Soloist” with Robert Downey Jr., “Obsessed” with Beyonce and “Fighting” with that guy from the “Step Up” movies. Oh yeah! And Disney is releasing their “Earth” documentary as too! Miley better watch her back.

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