Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Are We Ready for United 93? A second, more grounded look
The second-week numbers behind the 9/11 drama ‘United 93’ strips away the glow of non-stop, opening weekend publicity and sizable crowds.
$11.5 million in debut ticket sales at just 1,795 theaters was good enough to call director Paul Greengrass’ film about the doomed Sept. 11, 2001 airliner a hit and claim people ready to look back at 9/11 no matter how solemn a movie might be.
More grounded Hollywood hindsight comes with week two numbers and this time the ‘United 93’ tale is less celebratory.
Greengrass’ real-time drama played in 24 additional cinemas, a modest 1,819 total, but ticket sales plummeted 53%.
The best cinematic comparison is a horror movie like the recent ‘Silent Hill’. Scare-junkie teens may mob theaters on the opening weekend just to check things out. But if they declare the flick as lame, the theaters turn from packed to empty in a flash.
The same thing may happen to ‘United 93’ despite continuing commentary by political pundits like Frank Rich of The New York Times, who sees the film as anti-President Bush, and his conservative counterweights at Fox News who promote the film as a patriotic must-see.
Of course, it’s up to everyday people to make a movie a real-life phenomenon and not just topic number 1 with editorial writers.
If moviegoers continue to lose interest as more and more summer blockbusters pile up, at least Greengrass can claim the year’s best reviews for ‘United 93’. That should take the sting out of a movie that opened hot and then turned surprisingly cold.