October 08, 2008

No One Is Going to Tell You This.

So I will: David Zucker's An American Carol made more moneyon opening weekend than Bill Maher's Religulous did.


And it did it without resorting to the all Maher's prevarication about religion—the type of falsehoods that made Moore such a fitting subject for satire in the first place. (No, I don't believe Moore actually eats pizza once the mice have gotten into the pizza box. Nor do I believe that he agreed to make a terrorist training video. Nor do I believe that Charlton Heston once made a pro- gun-rights speech in which his tie kept changing color mid-sentence, or that there are banks that will let you take a longarm out the door as a premium on the same day you open a bank account with them—unless you're a famous filmmaker who has somehow convinced them that this sort or "creative re-enactment" will make them look good.)

I'll tell you one more secret: one of the reasons a lot of the reviewers didn't get the humor in An American Carol is that it required a smattering of knowledge about not just American history, but . . . . gulp . . . military culture.

And here's something else: (1) Sarah Palin had a rally in the Golden State on Saturday [tallish place on the West Coast—known for liking movies], which drew thousands of people away from the theaters; before and afterward most of the right-leaning political junkies in the nation have been biting their nails for about ten days wondering if John McCain was going to defend himself on the subject of the economy, or simply let the opposition tie G.W. around his neck like a rather good-natured albatross.

Well, he did and he didn't, and there's tremendous relief out there. There is still nail-biting, because this campaign will be close—and we have another month to go . But now that McCain's exaggerated sense of honor seems to allow for self-defense against the attacks coming from the other side, I think a lot of people may be willing to take a few hours off from the campaign—or take a little time to make a pivotal decision that's now on the horizon.

The one thing every single centrist/center-right person I've talked to about An American Carol has told me is this: it's nice not to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's lovely to laugh without wondering when the country's going to be insulted, or the military. You laugh at some jokes, and you don't laugh at others (slapstick being a bit of a scattershot endeavor). But you aren't mentally crossing your arms, wondering when "it" is going to come: the suggestion that we couldn't ever have won Vietnam and shouldn't have tried, the implication that Ronald Reagan was a crazy man who brought us to the brink of nuclear war (while liberating millions of people), the imputation that the Civil War was only about economics, and not slavery. The idea that most military men and women are war criminals, or ready to be.

The obscene absurdity that it is never right to fight back, whatever the provocation.

I hope Religulous stays in the movie houses for a long time, as An American Carol reaches more and more people via word-of-mouth. Because beyond the glamour of opening weekend (and opening at a high-risk time, during a Presidential election), there is the fact that some people in Hollywood have decided that they would actually like to make money. And maybe even make it doing something other than features based on TV series from the 1960s.

Yeah, yeah: I hear you, Guys: "Maher's movie opened on fewer screens, so it made more money per screen." Well, that presupposes An American Carol was credited with every ticket sale it was entitled to, and that it was as easy to find a showtime or tickets for AAC as it was for the other movies that opened last weekend. And it was not.

No, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. But I'm skeptical enough that I'm not going to take the Maher people's numbers (or their reasoning) at face value.

Because there's one more little comparison to be made: Zucker is funny. And Maher, the psuedo-libertarian, really, really isn't. He's just smarmy and smug.

Posted by Attila Girl at October 8, 2008 12:50 AM | TrackBack

"So I will: David Zucker's An American Carol made more money on opening weekend than Bill Maher's Religulous did.

It did indeed -but it needed more than three times the number of screens to exceed Religulous' weekend income;

October 3–5, 2008

An American Carol;
Income: $3,656,000
Theatre Count; 1,639


Income: $3,409,643
Theatre Count; 502

p.s. thanks for the source you linked to. Now we know which move is also operating at a loss.

Posted by: MyPetGloat at October 8, 2008 09:22 AM

Oh, mercy! Several days after release and the production costs aren't yet recouped! How unusual! What a scandal!

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 8, 2008 12:04 PM

American Carol: $2325 per screen average

Religulous: $6972 per screen average

source: http://www.ew.com/ew/news/charts/movies/boxoffice/0,,,00.html

How is that more money than Religulous?

Posted by: ricktowers at October 9, 2008 02:24 PM

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