Another week, another dumb action picture goes straight to number one at the UK box office. Last week it was daft archaeological fluff National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and now its air-headed sci-fi nonsense Jumper that’s topping the money table.
The film stars Hayden Christensen, a man famous both for playing Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels and for inspiring critics to think up wood-related puns to describe his performances. He plays a man who can teleport anywhere he wants, but soon gets into trouble with Samuel L. Jackson’s sinister government agency. But, hey, it’s high-concept, flashily expensive, and looks good in the trailer. The fact it only has a 14% on the Tomotemeter, and been critically savaged for having a silly plot and terrible acting, hasn’t stopped Joe Public shelling out his hard earned scratch to see the film.
Indeed the post-Christmas, pre-Spring period; traditionally home to a flurry of Oscar hopefuls and a succession of small and crappy films studios don’t know what to do with, has this year been a lucrative period for blockbusters, with Cloverfield – out on 1st February – still riding high at number 5 in the chart, having taken a healthy haul of £16m.
It’s heartening, though, to see the critical darlings also doing well against their pumped-up, meat-headed cinematic brethren. Preg-tastic teen drama Juno only slips one place to third in the table, with a £2.6m haul for the first three days of week. Meanwhile those distributing There Will Be Blood seem to have gone back to the old school; slowly releasing the film on more and more screens, letting word-of-mouth gradually get more bums on seats. This practice – commonplace ’til Jaws and Star Wars came along and showed how much money could be made by massive simultaneous launches nationwide – seems to be working well for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s film. It opened on a 100 more screens this week, rose to 7th place in the charts, and made more per theatre than any other film except Jumper and Bollywood effort Jodhaa Akbar.
That film, which carried on in the strong Bollywood tradition of doing well in specific geographically targeted theatres, was much more successful than the weeks remaining new release – The Bucket List – which is, by all accounts, is a bucket of (We get the point – Ed). Not even the combined and considerable star wattage of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson could give it a leg up on the charts, with the film coming in at a disappointing 6th place.