Image from 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' movie 
The animated comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was unexpectedly successful last weekend as U.S. movie audiences continued to seek out more positive stories, S. T. Karnick writes.

Given the huge advertising and publicity push, plus the presence of star actor Matt Damon (Bourne spy film series) and star director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s series of heist films), I thought The Informant had a good chance to win the box office sweepstakes during its opening days this past weekend.

I considered that a potentially baleful eventuality, considering that the new comedy seemed likely to be very anti-business, given the scenes shown in the trailers and the presence of politically active Damon and Soderbergh (director of Che, which lionized the Cuban Marxist revolutionary). I haven’t seen it yet, and so will reserve judgment on that score, but perhaps it makes sense that although The Contender did better than expected, it was clobbered by the animated comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Meatballs brought in a very healthy $30.1 million in North American ticket sales in its first weekend during the past three days (50 percent more than industry analysts had expected), far outpacing The Contender‘s take of $10.5 million. The Damon-Soderbergh comedy finished just ahead of Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself, which brought in $10.1 million in its second weekend. Another comedy, Love Happens, finished fourth.

With three comedies leading the pack and two highly promoted horror-suspense films with attractive female stars in the lead roles tanking with unexpectedly low ticket sales (Jennifer’s Body, Whiteout), it’s apparent that U.S. audiences are tired of downbeat material and want a more positive, optimistic type of entertainment,

That’s especially important with the economy remaining in bad condition long after recovery typically begins (average of ten months after onset) and Congress and the President considering a multitude of expensive new initiatives guaranteed to make the situation even worse.

With so many comedies to choose from, the weekend’s total U.S. box office was up 14 percent over the same weekend of last year and 17 percent over the previous weekend. Clearly, the Hollywood studios would be smart to press their filmmakers to move toward a more optimistic, positive, pro-American, classical liberal approach to the stories they tell.

If not, they may find themselves in a recession of their own.

–S. T. Karnick