Swing Low, Sweet ‘Hustle’

Below the noise generated by the box office win by THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (a film I entered with zero expectations and found to be delightfully amusing) over the sequel XXX: STATE OF THE UNION, you need to look to the #8 spot to find KUNG FU HUSTLE.

According to Movie City News, the per-theatre change slipped 55% to $1,240 for a total estimated gross for the weekend of $3.6 million and an accumulated total of $12.3 million. Box Office Mojo put the totals in a slightly better light, describing a 43.2% decline, a per-screen average of $1,572, and a cumulative total of $13.17 million.

Meanwhile, Box Office Guru had the decline at 44% for an estimated $3.8 million this weekend. They also estimate that distributor Sony Picture Classics will end up with $22-24 million. That would put it far beyond limited releases such as BRIDE AND PREJUDICE (at about $6 million) and ONG BAK (less than $5 million), but keep in mind Sony’s reported $12 million expenditure for prints and advertising.

Looking at things from a worldwide perspective, KUNG FU HUSTLE is the only non-Hollywood product in the top 25 this year (according to Box Office Guru), thanks to its $66.4 million in grosses in Asia.

3 Iron - Image courtesy of Sony Pictures ClassicsDebuting on seven screens, Kim Ki-Duk’s 3-IRON averaged $2,870 for a total of $20,100, according to Movie City News, while Box Office Mojo gave a per-screen average of $3,100 and a total of $21,700.

* Los Angeles reviewers weigh in on 3-IRON *

The headline for the review in the Los Angeles Times reads: “Director Kim Ki-duk shows the brutality in society but also tells a tender love story and offers a critique of modern life.” I missed picking up the print edition, and the Internet edition is still behind a paid-subscriber wall, but that wall is reportedly to come down on Tuesday. My guess is that Carina Chocano wrote the review.

Laughingly, Bob Strauss of the Daily News demonstrates his belief in a popular Asian movie myth * by stating: “Like most Korean films, ‘3-Iron’ wallows in some pretty vicious brutality, both emotional and physical.” Strauss does pay Kim a left-handed compliment: “The guy’s an artist who probably couldn’t compromise his vision even if he knew how to – a sterling example of why it’s good to avoid film school if you possibly can.”

( * For more on Asian Movie Myths, see Grady Hendrix’ excellent debunking at Kaiju Shakedown.)

Andy Klein of Los Angeles CityBeat finds comparisons to Chaplin apt, and concludes: “The whole evolves into something close to a fairy tale, without the pessimism or irony that pervades much of Kims other work.”

Scott Foundas of the LA Weekly described it as a “loopy romantic drama” that “is as repellent and repellently opportunistic a piece of work as the various shock-horror provocations (The Isle, The Coast Guard) that helped to launch this worrisome career.” I’m a bit more concerned about the repetition of “repellent” twice in the same sentence, but that’s me.

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