Tuesday November 18, 2014
Weekend Box Office Numbers Recall Goebbels Quote
With a poster like this, how could moviegoers resist? Yet they did.
I think I’m the only one who thought about Josef Goebbels after seeing this weekend’s box office numbers. I hope so anyway.
It has a little something to do with this quote from Cinemas of the World by James Chapman:
Triumph des Willens represented the high point of Nazi propaganda: it enshrined the 'Hitler myth' so completely that no further films of the sort ever needed to be commissioned. Goebbels, for his part, was firmly of the opinion that feature films should provide escapist entertainment for the masses and that direct propaganda should be confined to the newsreels.
The reason this came to mind were the three movies battling it out for the top spot. No other movie came close to these three:
- “Dumb and Dumber To”: $36.1 million
- “Big Hero 6”: $34.6 million
- “Interstellar”: $28.3 million
Fourth place? “Beyond the Lights” with $6.2 million.
But so what, right? Escapist entertainment is almost always in the top slots. At least this weekend we went to see “Interstellar,” which, now and again, made you think about important matters such as global warming, textbook revisionism in Texas, and the downward trajectory of Anne Hathaway's career.
Except it’s really the two movies with the weakest per-theater-average for new movies that led me back to the Goebbels quote.
Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater” finally opened and ... didn’t do particularly well. At first I noticed its gross ($1.1 million), thought “Oops,” but then realized, “Well, it only played in 371 theaters.” But then I noticed its per-theater average: $3.1K. That’s not good for a new release. Not at all. (“Foxcatcher,” in comparison, opened in six theaters this weekend with a per-theater average of $45K.)
Anyway it made me wonder: This weekend, did any new release do worse, per theater, than Stewart’s film about a journalist held captive in Iran?
Yes. Kirk Cameron’s “Saving Christmas,” which opened in 410 theaters and grossed only $992K for a per-theater average of $2.2K.
I’m not calling either of these movies ‘propaganda,’ by the way. It’s just that Kirk Cameron is on one side of the cultural divide, Stewart’s on the other, and most moviegoers split the difference and went straight for the escapist entertainment. Because that’s who we is, Charlie.
Knowing little about “Saving Christmas,” I checked out its trailer (ick), then its IMDb page, where it’s currently enjoying a bottom-of-the-barrel 2.5 (out of 10) rating. Then I went a step further, to the Message Boards, where the nom-de-IMDb “comrade-newski” asks, “When can we get a good Christian Film?” and lambasts all the ones that have come out this year. One of the responses comes from someone named “johnsmithbattlenet,” who writes:
when jews evaporate from hollywood
So we begin with Goebbels and end with Goebbels. L’Chayim.