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Weekend Box-Office Punishes 'The Punisher'

Baxter
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Posted December 8, 2008 - By Joseph Baxter

This box-office weekend was one dominated by Christmas as Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon's Four Christmases topped the list with $18,180,000. However, for our purposes, the real story is the abysmal performance of Punisher: War Zone and its $4 million take. That is significantly lower than the $13,834,527 opening weekend of the 2004 version from which it was rebooted. It was the lowest opening for a Marvel Comics film EVER. And adding insult to injury, it even opened lower than 1986 box-office punch-line Howard the Duck. (Then again, Lea Thompson did have sex with a talking duck in that film, so I can see what gave it the edge.)

Considering how much of a stand-up guy Ray Stevenson seemed when he stopped by AOTS, it's got to be considered bad news. (If anything, for his sake.) Did the film look phenomenal? Not really. However, the Punisher is a problematic character for movie adaptations. You can't get too corny because it's not in character, however, you can't go too dark and sadistic, because then it turns off the traditional group of moviegoers that made the Spider-man and Batman franchises so successful. While The Dark Knight walked the line in terms of darkness, it also carried a kind of pathos with which audiences could identify. We're sympathetic towards 'ole Frank Castle for the death of his family, however, his downward spiral towards vengeance has yet to translate well on film.

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Tags: Comics, Movies
Weekend Box-Office Punishes 'The Punisher'
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