Geeks on a bad streak at box office

Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:10pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Geeks might be less dependable than gals but not necessarily less desirable.

That's the industry consensus after the simultaneous misfire of a fanboy movie and impressive launch of what only can be described as a chick flick last weekend.

"Eat Pray Love" enjoyed a box office feast served up by overwhelmingly older-female audiences during the weekend, and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" fought a losing battle to put geek butts in theater seats.

Lionsgate's older-males magnet "The Expendables" topped domestic rankings with a $34.8 million opening, but Sony's book-based "Love" debuted impressively in second place with $23.1 million. The big love for "Love" followed lucrative outings by 2008's "Sex and the City" and "Mamma Mia!" -- which fetched $153 million and $144 million in their respective campaigns -- and last year's "Julie & Julia," a $94 million domestic grosser.

The trifecta success of such female-targeting films makes it plain there is box office gold in the gender genre. (Opening audiences for "Love" were 72% female, with 60% of patrons 25 or older.)

So niche pics can be lucrative. But what's up with the penny-pinching geek squad?

Universal's "Pilgrim" traveled to just $10.6 million in a fifth-place launch. The studio puts the pic's negative cost at $60 million after accounting for $25 million in tax credits.

"If that film had been made for $15 milion-$20 million, nobody would be crying," an executive at a rival studio said Monday. "But you have an offbeat movie with an offbeat title starring somebody who is sort of a niche-targeted guy to begin with."   Continued...

<p>Cast member Michael Cera poses at the premiere of the movie "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California, July 27, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>