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December 27, 2005
Did Munich Bomb At The Box Office?

Debbie Schlussel, whose opinion of Munich mirrors my own, announced on her blog today that the Spielberg film flopped on its first release weekend, coming in twelfth at the box office in limited release. Intrigued, I took a look at the numbers Debbie references -- but alas, Debbie is mistaken.

True, Munich wound up at #12, but the film only got shown on 532 screens. (I was actually lucky to catch it in my neighborhood with that kind of release.) Its per-screen average comes in around $3,000 for Christmas and the day after, which would make it more lucrative than King Kong and only second to Casanova for the week.

Does that mean that it's a blockbuster? Not hardly; we need to wait to see what happens when it goes into wide release to see if that average holds up, and for how long. The strategy behind the limited release allows Munich to build some word-of-mouth momentum, avoid a head-to-head clash with Kong and Narnia (for at least a week or two), and still qualify for the Oscar buzz. It can still fizzle out, like Syriana appears to have done since its opening.

I'm afraid that Debbie has indulged in a bit of wishful thinking. Hopefully we can rely on the wisdom of the American public to deliver that kind of judgment on Spielberg's paean to moral equivalency, but it hasn't yet been seen that we will. My guess: Americans embrace appeasement this winter, unfortunately.

UPDATE: Debbie and I disagree on the meaning of the numbers, but we agree that I screwed up the spelling of her name -- which seems a little silly, since it's in the title of her blog. Sorry!! Be sure to visit her site, which I've added to my blogroll.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 27, 2005 7:49 AM

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