It is one of the
great hilarious reversals of life that, while I'm up at the Toronto
International Film Festival enjoying the best of the upcoming few months in
film, the theaters back in the real world spent this weekend jammed with junk.
No. 1 ... moreat the box office? Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All by Myself," which didn't even
screen for critics but earned $22 million. That makes it the third-biggest
opening ever for one of Perry's films, after the $41 million debut for "Madea
Goes to Jail" and the $30 million bow of his first film, "Madea's Family
Reunion." Perry is in many ways what the film industry dreams of: His films are
impossibly cheap, yet they make plenty of money. And while I can kind of, sort
of, recognize that Perry's feeding an audience hungry for Christian-themed moral
entertainment, I just wish he weren't serving them such bad, clumsy, banal
movies. The CG puppet-people of "9" earned only $10 million in second place,
which has to knock the stuffing out of that film's hopes; '9" may fall into that
weird gap where it's too dark and action-packed for kids and too goofy-looking
and seemingly teen-pitched for adults.
And yet, the biggest loser of the
week has to be Kate Beckinsale, whose "Very Special CSI Episode" thriller
"Whiteout" took an absolute beating at the box office, earning only $5.1 million
to come in seventh. That's behind "Sorority Row," which opened on 80 fewer
screens than "Whiteout"; that's behind even "All About Steve," the Sandra
Bullock-Bradley Cooper comedy that's been getting roughly the same word-of-mouth
as the Ebola virus. "The Final Destination" had its box office fall off 55
percent from last week, earning $5.5 million, and it still beat "Whiteout"
handily. Apparently, America only wants to see Beckinsale beat people up when
she's a vampire; "Underworld" opened to $21 million and "Underworld: Evolution"
to $26 million, both far outstripping the take of "Whiteout." Apparently,
Beckinsale's action-heroine career only has a pulse when the action heroine in
question doesn't. Next week, look for Megan Fox in "Jennifer's Body" to devour
the box office the same way her demonic cheerleader eats boys -- and know
that, somewhere, Sam Raimi and Alison Lohman will be very, very