Gross’s passion no Porky’s
Actor-director Paul Gross’s First World War epic Passchendaele failed to notch a breakout hit for Canadian film at the box office this weekend. The movie was the second highest-grossing film in Canada on the weekend, earning an estimated $940,000 from its debut on 202 Canadian screens, according to its distributor Alliance Films. The movie had a budget of approximately $20-million as well as at least a $2-million marketing budget.
Howard Lichtman, the veteran Toronto-based box-office analyst, said Passchendaele’s performance wasn’t “an unmitigated success … but in perspective it did just fine,” since it’s aimed at an older audience and is being released in the fall, traditionally a time for either “art films” or “adult-oriented fare.”
“Is it a commercial blockbuster like a Quantum ofSolace [the new James Bond film opening Nov. 14]? It’s not – but I don’t think it was intended to be,” Lichtman noted. “If you take the just-under million dollars it generated and divide that by the average ticket price, there’s still an awful lot of people that went to see a Canadian piece of history. Which isn’t too bad.”
“We’re thrilled with the box-office,” said Carrie Wolfe, Alliance vice-president of marketing, publicity and promotion, yesterday in Toronto. “Canadians across the country have embraced the film,” which opened this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Passchendaele was bested for top spot by Max Payne, a new Mark Wahlberg action vehicle shot mostly in Toronto earlier this year. No specific Canadian weekend gross was available yesterday for Payne but Box Office Mojo estimated its North American receipts were $18-million (U.S.) from a total of 3,376 screens. Using what Lichtman calls “the 10-times factor” – that is, movies in the U.S. tend to have, on average, 10 times the box-office of Canadian releases – then it’s likely Max Payne opened on 250-300 screens in Canada and earned $1.5-$1.8-million here.
It appears Passchendaele isn’t en route to surpass Porky’s (1982) or 2006’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop as a Canadian box-office champion. (Porky’s earned more than $11-million in theatrical receipts, while Bon Cop’s take was more than $11.5-million.)
Nor is it likely to best Men with Brooms which Gross also directed, co-wrote and starred in. That comedy, budgeted at $7.5-million, played on 207 screens on its opening weekend in the winter of 2002 and earned $1.125-million. Its eventual total take from its theatrical release was $3.9-million.
Lichtman, however, said a film’s performance needs to be evaluated in terms of its release date and its competition. He suggested the more apt comparison for Passchendaele should be with W., Oliver Stone’s biopic of the current U.S. president. W grossed $10.6-million on slightly more than 2,000 screens. “It’s right in the range [of the 10-times factor],” said Lichtman, meaning W.’s weekend box-office in Canada probably totalled about $1-million from approximately 210 screens – very close to that of Passchendaele.
Gross’s passion no Porky’s