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Rediff.com  » Movies » Kill Bill slays The Punisher

Kill Bill slays The Punisher

April 19, 2004 14:59 IST

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Volume 1Effortlessly slaying its opponents, Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol 2 rose to the top of the box-office chart in North America with an estimated $25.6 million three-day gross.

Proving that there is still room for two vendetta movies at the top, The Punisher seized a decent $14 million at second place. Many in Hollywood believe that both films could have fared much better had they not been released the same week. Incidentally, the two films each cost about $30 million (with $50-70 million spent on marketing each).

The new week brought no cheer to Mel Gibson, whose The Passion Of The Christ haemorrhaged for the first time in its two-month run. After a 50 per cent surge during the Easter weekend, the highest grossing movie ever in North America ($360 million) tumbled by about 72 per cent.

The Gibson film shot to the very top position last weekend, but this week it fell down to the ninth. Though it was widely expected to cool down after the Easter weekend boom, some observers have been surprised by the volume of decline. Its steep fall raised doubts whether the film could reach the $400 million benchmark.

The latest Tarantino film garnered many excellent reviews, but there were some who found it as tasteless as the first one. A few who liked the first film complained that the second one was a bit too ponderous.

'For those seeking the vibrant innovation of Tarantino's first movies or the sheer rush of Kill Bill Vol 1, Vol 2 feels like a dulled blade,' wrote The Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro. But in the rival Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert hailed it as an 'exuberant celebration of moviemaking'. In Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt declared the film was 'worth the wait, this luminous exploration of action movie ethos expands terrifically on themes raised in Vol 1.'

Meanwhile, The Punisher received mostly negative reviews, yet had a decent opening. The story of a veteran FBI agent (Thomas Jane) who sets out to avenge the harm done to his family by a gangster family led by a businessman (John Travolta), it was released by Lions Gate, a smaller distributor. The film also starred the sexy Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who has been making more news because of her recent divorce from John Stamos than for her performance in the film.

Though a handful of critics gave the film, directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, thumbs up, most critics thought it was sheer hell to sit through it.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Meyer was one of the few critics to like the film: 'An entertaining, if silly, film adaptation of the Marvel comic.' USA Today's Mike Clark felt 'the film does have a comicbook spirit and one of the great final exits for a villain in years'.

In The New York Times, A O Scott called the film 'a grim, flat-footed and exceedingly violent action movie'. In Seattle Post-Intelligencer, William Arnold wrote: 'It's hard to imagine how anyone could sit through this thing except squirming critics and violence addicts in need of a particularly gruesome fix.'

Among the newcomers, Connie And Carla opened at No 13, making some wonder if its writer and star Nia Vardalos, who wrote and acted in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, is a one-film wonder. Greek Wedding, made at $5 million, grossed about $400 million worldwide.

In the new film, which cost $25 million and could end with less than $10 million in North America, Vardalos and Toni Collette play Connie and Carla, two struggling Chicago dinner theatre performers, who accidentally witness a mafia hit and assume new identities as drag queens to hide from the gangsters.

Like Greek Wedding, this film too was produced by actress Rita Wilson and her star husband Tom Hanks.

A still from My Big Fat Greek WeddingNewspapers like Boston Globe said the film had 'harmless, middle-of-the-road charm'. Hollywood Reporter gave it a guarded welcome: 'The two stars give sparkle to a likeable but woefully thin and guileless tale.'

But others might have easily agreed with Chicago Sun-Times's Roger Ebert, who complained: 'The plot is creaky, the jokes are laborious, and total implausibility is not considered the slightest problem.'

The low-budget comedy Johnson Family Vacation was at third position, followed by the imaginatively made horror film Hellboy and the Disney kid film House On The Range, which is headed for a so-so $60 million gross. The much derided war and siege historical drama The Alamo is headed for history books in the all-time worst flops chapter. The film, made for about $100 million, was at ninth place on the chart. It will be lucky to exit with a $25 million gross.

The box office this week:

Rank

Film

Weekend gross

Total
gross

Number
of weeks

1

Kill Bill Volume 2

$25.6 million

$25.6m

New

2

The Punisher

$14 million

$14m

New

3

Johnson Family Vacation

$6.4 million (less 30% from the previous weekend)

$21.4m

2

4

Hellboy

$5.7 million (less 47% from the previous weekend)

$50.3m

3

5

House on the Range

$5.2 million (less 33% from the previous weekend)  

$37m

3

6

Scooby Doo 2

$5 million (less 36% from the previous weekend)

$72m

4

7

Walking Tall

$4.6 million (less 45.6% from the previous weekend)

$46m

3

8

Ella Enchanted

$4.4 million (less 29% from the previous weekend)

$13.8m

2

9

The Passion of the Christ

$4.1 million (less 72% from the previous weekend)

$360m

8

10

The Alamo

$4 million (less 55% from the previous weekend)

$16.3m

2

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Arthur J Pais