ROT­TEN POTA­TOES

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

Tara Brady on the idio­syn­cra­sies of the Ir­ish box of­fice

Oh how Rot­ten Pota­toes yearns to de­vote this col­umn to the pants-round-the-an­kles catas­tro­phe that is Run for Your Wife.

Ray Cooney’s adap­ta­tion of his own long-run­ning sex farce opened – with­out re­views for some rea­son – at the Ir­ish box-of­fice with a stun­ning to­tal of ¤37. That’s a screen av­er­age of, well, ¤37. Frankly, we’re sur­prised so many peo­ple turned up to watch Danny Dyer stand dan­ger­ously on the wrong end of a rake. (Mind you…)

No, given the week­end that’s in it, our time would be bet­ter spent ex­am­in­ing the re­turns for this year’s crop of Os­car nom­i­nees. Wreck-It Ralph’s two-week to­tal of ¤1.2 mil­lion is hugely im­pres­sive. How­ever, though it is favourite to take the best-an­i­mated fea­ture prize, you couldn’t really call it an Os­car movie.

Argo is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. Look­ing like a dead cert for the big prize, Ben Af­fleck’s his­tor­i­cal romp has also been de­clared a box-of­fice champ. Well, maybe. We’ve come to ex­pect that films di­rected by Af­fleck – who’s sort of Ir­ish, re­mem­ber – do pro­por­tion­ally bet­ter here than in the UK. Sure enough, grab­bing a hefty ¤1.2 mil­lion of its ¤7 mil­lion com­bined Bri­tish/Ir­ish tak­ings, we’ve again waved the Tri­colour in Ben’s di­rec­tion. But Argo is not quite the colos­sal smash some have claimed.

West­erns aren’t sup­posed to play overseas. But Django Un­chained has passed out Argo in a third as many weeks: in this part of the world Tarantino trumps na­tional fer­vour ev­ery time. Life of Pi, a film no­body felt par­tic­u­larly com­mer­cial, is still hang­ing in at the bot­tom reaches of the top 20 with a grand cu­mu­la­tive to­tal of ¤1.6 mil­lion.

We’ve al­ready mused on Les Misérables’ ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mance. Vic­tor Hugo can surely never have (sorry) dreamed a dream in times gone by that some weepy mu­si­cal of his fat­test novel would win over so many space-age Celts in a dis­tant cen­tury. It will surely reg­is­ter as the big­gest earner of the best pic­ture nom­i­nees.

Let’s pass over the dis­tinctly fringe tak­ings for Amour and Beasts of the South­ern Wild. The so-so re­turns for Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty (both still to reach ¤500,000) are also of only mod­er­ate in­ter­est.

What’s really strik­ing about the cur­rent run of best pic­ture nom­i­nees is the very healthy re­turn for Lin­coln. Hav­ing be­come a ma­jor hit in its home ter­ri­to­ries, ev­ery­one as­sumed this most Amer­i­can of sto­ries would play to three men and a horse in “rest of world”.

Well, many more than (sorry again) four score and seven Ir­ish pun­ters have turned out to watch Daniel Day-Lewis shep­herd the 13th amend­ment through congress. The pic­ture has al­ready taken twice as much as ei­ther the sup­pos­edly gung-ho Zero Dark Thirty or the sup­pos­edly date-friendly Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook. Once again, with ¤1.05 mil­lion in the bank, it is do­ing pro­por­tion­ately bet­ter here than in the UK.

Ah, the Ir­ish and his­tory.

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