Rotten potatoes

Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 01:00

TARA BRADYon the idiosyncrasies of the Irish box office

HIT THE ROAD, On the Road. Has the world turned its back on beatnik literature? Ulster has. Jack Kerouac’s book has obsessed film-makers since it first appeared in 1957. Today’s audiences, however, are proving less keen on watching a bunch of romanticised hobos groping their way across America.

Walter Salles’ high-profile adaptation opened to less than €270,000 from 100 sites in the UK last weekend. Of that tally, €7,951 came from eight sites in the ROI and a solitary NI print took €170. Really? €170? Did they know K-Stew was in it?

Perhaps the province was too busy queuing up for Ballymena legend Liam Neeson. They’re not alone. Taken 2 has provided a greatly needed shot in the arm at the global ticket booth. Worldwide, it’s a returning box-office champ with $224,449,223 (about €171 million) in the kitty. The Irish figures are disproportionately gargantuan. Put it this way: the people behind Sinister, released the same weekend, are sure to be thrilled with their healthy €1,933 screen average and €268,941 haul.

Over the same two-week period, Taken 2 has taken €1,660,277 in the Republic, with a whopping €5,645 screen average. The figures are exceptional, but with the dregs of the late summer slate behind us, almost everyone’s a winner.

We are, once again, a nation under Sandler. Hot on the heels of the underperforming That’s My Boy, Hotel Transylvania, the new Sandler-voiced animation, scared up €208,531 from 64 Irish sites last weekend. For reasons far too macabre to contemplate, the flimsy monstrous resort has attracted far more business than the superior ParaNorman in the US and elsewhere.

On these shores ParaNorman has generated a brisk trade, racking up €518,856 in receipts. It’s enough to bring the film’s worldwide take to $91,244,867, but it’s way off Transylvania’s $153,113,620 and counting.

We’re hoping Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie – released here on Wednesday – can keep up. Two weeks ago, the film bombed in the US with a a disappointing $11.4 million opening, though subsequently held strong with a mere 36.3 per cent dip in ticket sales between weekends.

Will the Burton brand abide on this side of the pond? Even with school holidays looming, matinee land is a tough, crowded marketplace. The Halloween family season is upon us, while hangover/child-friendly summer fare lingers on. And how. Despite its princessy edges, this week Brave holds steady at No 11 and edges closer to the €2 million mark with a running total of €1,787,765.

We will always have children’s movies, at least while 21 per cent of the population is under 15. Thanks to these loyal patrons, Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists (a chart re-entry at

No 28 after 29 weeks on release), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and The Lorax have all sailed past the million mark this quarter. Ice Age: Continental Drift tops the all-ages release chart with €2,690,674-plus.

Far away from the seven-figure hitters, we find a small, yet significant number. After two weeks, Irish contender What Richard Did is heading for the €180,000 mark, with a ruddy €2,334 screen average.

It’s a healthy enough take, though not as impressive as the tiny 6 per cent drop in ticket sales between weeks on release. Now that, according to our logarithm tables, works out as some seriously strong word-of-mouth.