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Bruce Almighty races to the top
Arthur J Pais |
May 28, 2003 15:50 IST
If proof was needed once again of how much critics are out of tune with public taste, Bruce Almighty, the comedy that opened to divine numbers, amply provided it. Following the tradition of many recent critically panned comedy hits -- including Ashok Amritraj's Bringing Down The House -- the Jim Carrey comedy grossed an estimated $95 million in five days, $85 million of it coming from the four-day Memorial Day record-breaking weekend.
This is the highest opening of Carrey's career; his last film, The Majestic, a sentimental saga that opened over 18 months ago, was a major flop.
Many people in the movies business had wondered if audiences were ready to see Carrey play God for a day in a movie that mixed comedy with spirituality. Some critics asserted Carrey, who had made a hell of a choice, needed serious career counselling. The New York Times was among the handful of major publications that actually liked the film; its favourable review surprised many.
The audiences, who adored most Carrey films, found Bruce Almighty irresistible. Produced by Universal Pictures, it has an excellent shot at the $200 million benchmark, making it one of the most profitable comedies ever made. The movie, which cost about $80 million, could recoup its investment in less than three weeks.
With its powerful bow, Bruce Almighty easily pushed The Matrix: Reloaded to second place. Even though the sci-fi thriller lost its box office clout by about 55 per cent, it has earned a mighty $205 million in just 10 days in America. As several box office analysts pointed out, The Matrix: Reloaded, despite more spectacular action than the original, does not have the sentimentality and the sweetness of a film like Spider-Man that could have made it an awesome hit in the $400 million category.
Bruce Almighty's huge success is also a career boost for Morgan Freman. As God, who allows eternal complainer Carrey to take his place for a day, he has many great comic moments in the film; he even steals a few scenes from Carrey. Tom Shadyac has re-established himself as one of Hollywood's most reliable directors. Though his last film, Dragonslayer, starring Kevin Costner, was a disaster, he is now in the big league again. Apart from directing hit Carrey movies, including Liar Liar and Ace Ventura, he was responsible for the hit sentimental drama, Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams, and the Eddie Murphy laugh riot, Nutty Professor.
Exit polls for Bruce Almighty suggest the film has plenty of repeat value, giving it a long and healthy run despite competition from the soon-to-be-released, big budget summer attractions.
Daddy Day Care, the Eddie Murphy comedy that is a big draw with pre-teens, held rather well against the Bruce Almighty juggernaut. Dropping by mere four per cent from the previous weekend and earning $18 million over the last weekend, it has grossed a strong $71 million in less than three weeks. The comedy, which was also panned by most critics, has resurrected the Murphy's career. His last three films had flopped at the box office.
Another sci-fi favourite, X2: X-Men United, is showing stronger legs at the box office than The Matrix: Reloaded. It lost about 25 per cent of its box office clout and has grossed $192 million, but has plenty of fuel left.
It hasn't been a good weekend for The In-Laws, a remake of the 24-year-old comedy starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. The new movie, which stars Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks, got a mild reception, with a $9.1 million opening. But then, this is not one of those special effects-laden movies and couldn't have cost more than $40 million to make. If it does well on video and DVD, it could even make a decent profit.
Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham lost its place in the Top 10 chart after several weeks but still enjoyed a solid four-day weekend, grossing $2.1 million and reaching a $17.7 million gross.