Doom fails to lift gloom at US multiplexes

Box-office blahs continue in the States

The mediocre turnout at American multiplexes continued over the weekend, as Doom opened in the top spot with a sub-par $15.4 million tally. The expectations for Andrzej Bartkowiak’s video game adap, which stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as part of a crack marine unit sent to a mysterious space station to battle some nasty aliens, were much higher, triggering Universal’s head of distribution Nikki Rocco to declare: “I'm very concerned about the marketplace. There are so many movies out, so much to choose from, yet the marketplace continues to fall, and not just by little amounts.”

Cantering into second spot with a total of $9.3 million was Dreamer, the Kurt Russell-Dakota Fanning starrer about a father/daughter combo nursing a sick horse back to health with an eye to racing her in the Breeder’s Cup. Spots three and four were taken up by previous releases, with Aardman Animations’ Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit continuing to do respectable business, building up to $44.1 million since release. Also hanging in the top five was The Fog, bringing in $7.3 million from its second weekend on the screens.

But it was a disappointing result for Charlize Theron’s new film, North Country, which sputtered to $6.5 million on its opening weekend. Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider), the drama, which premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival to strong reviews, tells the true story of a woman who leads a sexual discrimination lawsuit against a mining company. Theron’s first starring role since winning the Oscar for Monster, North Country had been expected to do good business, with Warner Bros’ president of domestic distribution, Dan Fellman, announcing his hopes that word-of-mouth will keep the film in cinemas: “While our opening did fall short of my expectations, the reviews and exit polls are excellent. Female movies tend to perform better during the week, and we hope to follow that pattern.”