Coens Shoot To The Top In The States

Burn After Reading is their first no. 1

Well, it’s taken them bloody long enough – but finally, after 24 years and thirteen movies, the Coen Brothers have bagged their first no. 1 at the US box office, with Burn After Reading.

The pitch-black comedy – boosted, of course, by the star pairing of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, not to mention the success of Joel and Ethan’s last movie, the Oscar-gobbling No Country For Old Men – narrowly beat Tyler Perry’s latest, The Family That Preys, into second place. Burn After Reading pulled in an estimated $19.2 million over the weekend, while Perry’s movie made $18 million.

It’s about damn time, too. It remains to be seen if the brilliant but less-than-breezy Burn will enjoy good word-of-mouth (the Coens, geniuses though they may be, don’t really make films that connect with the multiplex crowd), but there’s a good chance that this could be their highest-grossing movie to date, outdoing No Country. Fingers crossed, for financial success means that they can pretty much do whatever they want to do.

As for Perry, the man is a phenomenon. His movies are rarely embraced by critics, but they keep on making huge piles of dosh. This one even had Cole Hauser in it, and yet audiences still came. (Only kidding, Mr. Hauser - we love you, really.)

It was a crowded weekend for new releases, with four debutantes fighting it out for box office supremacy. A decade ago, a pairing of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino would have challenged Burn After Reading for the top spot. But there wasn’t a great deal of excitement or, if you will, heat surrounding Righteous Kill, the third movie to feature the pair (and the second to feature them in – gasp – the same shot!), and the rote cop thriller limped into third, with an estimated $16.2 million. Still, not bad for two old-timers.

In fourth place was the last in the quartet of newbies, the all-star comedy, The Women, starring Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and Debra Messing. It took in $10.8 million, and should fade very quickly.

Otherwise, it was a pretty standard week at the box office, with the biggest drop the whopping 70% suffered by last week’s number one, Nicolas Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous. Given that it hit the top spot last week with a paltry $7 million, the action thriller now has only $12.5 million in ten days. Gags about Cage's floppy 'kok will not be tolerated.

Oh, and congrats to The House Bunny, which posted the smallest drop from last weekend – a mere 25%, beating out even The Dark Knight. The House Bunny now has $42 million – not bad, considering. The Dark Knight, meanwhile, may have lost the battle, but with $517 million in the Bat-bank, it’s more than comfortably winning the war.

Next week sees the big-screen debut of Ricky Gervais as a leading man in the comedy, Ghost Town. But expect the weekend to be won by Samuel L. Jackson as an evil cop in the thriller, Lakeview Terrace, although the Dane Cook comedy, My Best Friend’s Girl, could give it an R-rated run for its money.