Monday, December 29, 2008

Box Office: Dog Bites Frank Miller

Top movies over the holiday weekend:


Via Rotten Tomatoes:
"Not all new releases clicked with moviegoers this holiday weekend. The one casualty was Lionsgate's stylish actioner The Spirit which bowed to an estimated $6.5M over three days and $10.3M across four days. Playing in 2,509 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a weak $2,593. Graphic novel king Frank Miller made his solo directing debut after co-helming the 2005 hit Sin City with Robert Rodriguez which opened much stronger with $29.1M over three days."

What insights can we glean from this startling turn of events, especially as it relates to how the Frank Miller film got its butt kicked by the heartwarming doggie flick Marley and Me?

1. Please do not overestimate the jadedness of the typical American film-goer. I'm speaking to you, oh great purveyors of dark superhero flicks. America is already depressed and angry enough without your help telling them what a shitty, amoral, and corrupt world it is.

2. Judging by the weak box-office results for The Spirit against that of the surprise success of The Valkyrie, maybe people prefer to see swastikas in a strictly historical context, and not as a heavy-handed campy fashion statement (even if it they are worn on a curvy Scarlett Johansson).

3. Speaking of camp, the ghost of William Dozier called, and is wondering why this Eisner chap keeps getting referenced as the main inspiration for The Spirit instead of himself, Lorenzo Semple Jr., and Stanley Ralph Ross.

4. Frank Miller as director of this film was, as Walter Sobchak might say, "out of his element."

Finally, one OS reader emailed me and asked, simply,

"When did Frank Miller become the Caligula of comics?"

A Spirit movie that would have at least broke even:


  1. Anonymous2:25 PM

    Saw it this past week. It certainly was the worst thing since Battlefield Earth. But, to be fair, it was better than Hitman and the two Bloodrayne movies combined.

  2. In addition to everything that made the movie suck, maybe people are burned out after a superhero-heavy summer. I know I was burned out by the time I saw Dark Knight.

  3. You know what made me giggle?

    It made less money on its opening weekend than Punisher: War Zone. XD

  4. In all fairness, producer Michael Uslan hired Frank Miller to make a certain type of movie. Specifically, a movie that looked like Sin City. I think Frank Miller is getting a lot of flack for making a movie that looks too much like Sin City, but that's what he was tasked with doing.

    And it still might break even. I haven't seen what the movie cost to make, but just because it had a terrible opening weekend doesn't mean that it wont eventually at least break even.

  5. No offense to all those ladies from the current movie, but Nana Visitor not only makes a better Ellen Dolan, but she's (still) got better legs.

    Again, I'm shallow. :)

  6. I know I'm not seeing it. I'll probably catch it on cable and watch it for five minutes like I did with Catwoman, just so when I say it sucks nobody can use the "you didn't even see it" defense.

    Where's that last pic from?

  7. But was it as good as Street Fighter the movie with Van Damme?

  8. "but Nana Visitor not only makes a better Ellen Dolan, but she's (still) got better legs."

    Nana Visitor?! Oh, yeah...
    I thought it was that woman from "Three's a Crowd" who married Jack Tripper...

  9. Honestly, my faith in humanity has been restored by the fact that this movie tanked so bad. I'm actually going to see that goddamn dog movie now.

  10. Occam's razor: maybe it just isn't an entertaining film, but Dark Knight and Iron Man were.

    Pundits will observe that this means the death of superhero movies at the box office because that's what they do to fill inches, but there are other comic-book-related things in the works already, and DK made serious chedder. What we have here, I think, is a christmas turkey, and other movies will be along shortly to wash away the taste.

  11. I must confess, the knowledge that the dog movie outperformed the Sin Spirit movie by so much almost makes me want to buy a ticket just to thank Owen and Jen.

    But then my irrational hatred of the brothers Wilson kicks in.

  12. All right, I am too lazy to do research. What is the pic you posted from?

  13. Apparently it wasn’t better to leave the mask on :op

  14. Anonymous5:46 PM

    From everything that I've seen and heard about The Spirit, they took the concept of Over The Top and used it like rapists use sex.

  15. I'm honestly glad it tanked, too. I'm tired of "darker and edgier". I'm tired of deconstruction. I want my heroes to stay my heroes, and I want the Golden Age as it was, not as Frank Miller would have liked it to be.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm going to see Watchmen. I loved The Dark Knight. But those films draw on material that was always dark, rather than dragging something bright into the darkness. I don't want to see Frank Miller's The Spirit any more than I'd want to see Frank Miller's Superman or Frank Miller's Spider-Man. Not everything has to turn dark and edgy.

  16. Anonymous10:44 PM


    Nothing is as good as the Van Damme Street Fighter movie. Not even the Dennis Hopper Super Mario movie, or anything with Billy Zane. (Phantom! Sniper! As himself in Zoolander!)

    The Spirit...of Christmas-Fail.

  17. Anonymous11:34 PM

    I was all excited about seeing the movie until I realized that it had A) Samuel L. Jackson in it and B) Scarlett Johansson.

    The first few trailers I saw never showed Samuel L. and I thought it looked pretty interesting. The ones I saw right before the movie opened, however, pushed his appearance in the film heavily. My interest considerably waned.

    In my opinion, he's a bad actor and brings down the quality of everything he's in. I'd just prefer not to see him in any movie, ever. When I saw him at the end of "Iron Man" people in the theater literally groaned.

  18. I haven't seen the movie, but I recommend to everyone thinking about it to go check out Peter Davids extremely fair, balanced and somewhat reluctant slaughtering of the film on is blog.

    (Thinking about it - recommending people who comment here to go read Peter Davids blog is probably a bit like advising devout catholics to check out this 'Pope' guy, as he's got some interesting ideas. Sorry if I've insulted anyones intelligence!)

  19. Maybe the reason is that The Spirit is a bad film. One of the worst I´ve ever seen (and I have seen thousands!)

  20. All right, I am too lazy to do research. What is the pic you posted from?

    the mid-80s Spirit TV movie starring Sam "Flash Gordon" Jones.

    who would've guessed that that version will now be considered the superior version of the Eisner character?

    i think most people just had no idea who or what The Spirit is, and the name Frank Miller means nothing to them. add to the fact it wasn't a movie you could take your kids to, and then the bad reviews, and you've got a stink bomb on your hands.

    why would anyone think Frank Miller could direct a movie? not to knock Frank, but what makes him qualified to direct a movie of this size his first time out (he didn't co-direct Sin City no matter what the credits may say)?

  21. Hey Bloodrayne wasn't that terrible except for Madsen's drunken stupour amd Kingsley's phoned in novocaine inspired performance.

    On the spirit, I am enjoying quite a mighty guffaw or six at its abysmal showing. Now Hollywood will know what we've already discovered. Frank Miller has died and been replace by some talentless hack that looks like Frank Miller.

    Maybe his evil twin Skippy...

  22. I thought it was pretty damn rad. Seriously.

  23. Lorenzo Semple, Jr.? Oh, that's low. In boxing, you'd have gotten a referee warning and lost points for that one. In professional wrestling?


  24. Horrible thought, though. Does this mean Frank Miller's going to keep his comics writing job?