Crowd Report: "Sky Captain"
Sky Captain poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published September 18, 2004
The attendance was right around Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Hellboy on their opening nights: a $8.5 - 9.5 million Friday gross would not surprise me.
When you haven?t been to an opening night flick in a month and a half, there seems to be subtext: movies suck. I was hoping that Friday night would change that and Sky Captain would deliver a fun, thrilling time, but the truth is, this movie didn?t really do much for me. I?m even a fan of Jude Law, as I loved Talented Mr. Ripley, Artificial Intelligence, and also liked Road to Perdition and Enemy at the Gates, even though I found Cold Mountain dreadfully boring.

Sky Captain starts off as a pretty good movie with promise, but then it starts to drift down to merely ?diverting? territory, and then gradually just becomes rather dull. I wasn?t as bored as I was at Cold Mountain (I almost walked out of that), but the fact that this movie is about forty minutes shorter than that might have been beneficial in that regard. That?s not to say that I?m recommending this movie (I give both a C+), but it borders the line of mediocre and passable.

The movie?s visuals are fairly cool, but where it limps is within the storytelling, and to really nit-pick, Gwyneth Paltrow?s acting. I understand that this film is an homage to some of the old campy flicks of this genre, but I guess campy just isn?t my thing. ?Campy? was one of my biggest complaints about the first Spider-Man, besides the fact that I felt Sam Raimi was the wrong director for it. He improved the second time around, but I still think the tone could?ve been stronger (Batman still rules in my book as the best comic book film).

I wasn?t a big fan of the dialogue and story in Sky Captain, and thought Paltrow gave a very plain performance. Jude Law saved the boat in that regard, but the pieces in general didn?t add up properly. You also have to love how Angelina Jolie is one of the main marketing devices for the movie and she has all of about ten minutes onscreen, if that. However, being that it?s not a Miramax film, she at least won?t have any chance to win anything for that appearance.

Anyway, to the crowd report. I?ll do this a little differently than usual.

Theater: Mann Village, Westwood (LA)
Seats: 1300
Time: 9:45 p.m.

Line Status: I got there at 9:30, so there wasn?t a ticket holders? line anymore (there was a line designated for it). There was a moderate-sized line at the ticket booth, but most people seemed to be inside.

Once inside, the middle section of the main floor (roughly 350 seats) was pretty packed, with some but not a lot of people in the side regions (there are 300 - 350 seats on each side region); the balcony (300 seats) was less than a third filled. Once the lights dimmed, there were probably 600-some people in the theater, which is about what it was like at Hellboy.

Demographics: dominantly male, mostly mid-20?s.


Raise Your Voice:
- The audience felt playful. A few cheers went up at Hilary Duff, even though a reaction like that for someone like her is usually mockery at this theater. When the trailer concluded, many people started clapping, but they were overruled by some very sincere boo?s (which got some laughs). It was a tame reaction when compared to Spider-Man 2 here when the crowd booed Catwoman hardcore (it was a massive response).

- A few cheers went up when it was obvious what this was. And there were actually a few claps at one point, and someone cheered loudly when the ad ended, but the response was nothing too special (there wasn?t an eruption of laughter as a result of the cheer, which can happen here). It was pretty clear that the enthusiasm was just for the hell of it.

A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Played silently. When I saw Prisoner of Azkaban here, Jim Carrey got more of a fascinated reaction from the audience, though still tame. This time the response was very humble.

The Aviator
- Very light, scattered claps afterwards, which faded quickly.

I was hoping for the new Team America trailer to show and get everyone crazy (which is inevitable at a theater like this), but R-rated movies can?t be promoted in front of PG flicks (which can suck on some occasions). I first saw the teaser for Team America at Collateral and couldn?t believe my eyes, and it got a similar ?Oh My God? reaction from that crowd (everyone was laughing and a few were faintly clapping afterwards). Its poster was the main highlighted ad outside the theater, which usually means the trailer will be shown?oh well.

The crowd seemed to like Sky Captain, which was evident with their occasional laughter, a moment of light, scattered applause, another moment of solid applause (when Law smacked Paltrow), and even more applause when it ended. The attendance was right around Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Hellboy on their opening nights, and neared that of Starsky & Hutch: a $8.5 - 9.5 million Friday gross would not surprise me.

Pictures of the Village: (as seen in Bowfinger)
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'Sky Captain' Articles
  • Greg's Sky Captain review B-
    September 19, 2004    Despite the fact that {Conran's} debut film is not great, it is still an enjoyable film, and I think we can expect good things from {him} in the future. -- Greg Ward
  • Craig's Sky Captain review C-
    September 18, 2004    The plotting never develops past the point of trying to find this mysterious Totenkopf and so it just feels bland and overly familiar. -- Craig Younkin
  • Gareth's Sky Captain review C
    September 18, 2004    The performances by Paltrow and Law are remarkably understated and the talented cast often comes across as bland. -- Gareth Von Kallenbach
  • Friday Box Office Analysis (9/17)
    September 18, 2004    {Sky Captain} opened in line with Thomas Jane?s comic book flick, The Punisher, which grossed $5.2 million on opening day for a $1,955 average in 2,649 theaters. -- Lee Tistaert