What a crazy world we live in! Even before we’ve gotten to the Monday of MLK weekend, the 3-day frame was one of the 10 biggest weekends in the history of the box office! The Top 12 films grossed a fantastic $170 million, increasing a whopping 29% over last year! This is shocking for January, but really cool! There’s so much to talk about! Here’s my rundown of each film:
Paul Blart: Mall Cop – Sony – $33.8 million – $10,751 per theater average
Fat Man #1. This opening is the second highest January opening of all time, behind 2008’s Cloverfield ($40 M). Maybe after Kevin James starred with Will Smith in 2005’s Hitch, and with Adam Sandler in 2007’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, he’s garnered some of their box office drawing power, because this debut is just huge, and it still has MLK day tomorrow to rake in the big bucks! Mark this off as a huge success for both James as a leading actor and Sandler as a producer. Paul Blart: Mall Cop was benefited by its strong advertising campaign, and the relatively low comedic expectations of moviegoers. (Though I will confess that I sounded a bit pretentious in my Weekend Preview.) In these recessionary times, it looks like no one wants to think too hard when they go to the movies. Welcome to The Era Of Easy Entertainment! (EEE)
Gran Torino – Warner Brothers – $22.2 million – $7,481 PTA
Clint Eastwood continues to draw in audiences, who have really found a strong connection to the film. Due to the holiday on Monday, the film saw a very soft 24% decline, and with a $73 million total and a great venue average after two weekends in wide release, Gran Torino is headed for at least $130 million. A much needed return to profitability for the director, after Flags Of Our Fathers ($33 M), Letters From Iwo Jima ($13 M), and Changeling ($35 M).
My Bloody Valentine: 3D – Lionsgate – $21.9 million – $8,642 PTA
Shame on you, Supernatural fans! According to my calculations, there are still about 1.5 million of you who did not go see your beloved Jensen Ackles this weekend on the big screen! I thought you were the most dedicated fans of any TV show, like, EVER. Still, enough of you came out for the 3D slasher flick to have a pretty solid opening of $21.9 million, further proving that horror is back on the map and in perfectly good shape. Come 2010, audiences will probably be tired of it again, so studios, cash in while you can! MBV:3D has already revealed some of its frontloadedness, since its Friday numbers were higher than Saturday’s, but I expect that this will have slightly better legs than most other horror films, due to its good reviews.
Notorious – Fox Searchlight – $21.5 million – $13,126 PTA
Fat Man #2. This is truly the surprise of the weekend! Admittedly, I’m a former prep school kid from southern Virginia, who grew up more in the time of Eminem than B.I.G., so maybe I’m a bit out of touch with the hip hop legend’s drawing power, but I think even Fox Searchlight has to be unbelievably surprised with how well Notorious performed. It’s sizzling venue average is nothing short of amazing, and although it only played in 1,638 theaters, audiences turned out in huge crowds to see the biopic. Like most other films marketed to urban audiences, though, this one will be a victim of frontloadedness. Even with the holiday weekend effect, Notorious still came up with an internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.55, which is pretty low, so I’m expecting this to fall pretty quickly. Not that that matters, though! Notorious has already made its mark, and I’m sure it’s already covered its production budget, so it’s all gravy at this point. I bet somewhere, a Tupac movie just got the greenlight…
Hotel For Dogs – Paramount – $17.7 million – $5,413 PTA
This is the fourth successful dog release in the last four months. In October there was Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($94 M). In November there was Bolt ($105 M). And in December there was Marley And Me ($132 M so far). Emma Roberts has redeemed herself after the lackluster performance of last year’s Nancy Drew ($22 M), and even with a lower venue average, Hotel For Dogs will probably go further than both Notorious and My Bloody Valentine: 3D, due to its family friendly nature. But let me talk for just a second about dogs. I’m going to be honest: I’m a little put off by the rise of dogs in society lately. I mean, they’re cute and fluffy, and I love them as pets as much as anyone else, but I think that people are starting to think that dogs are humans. Between the rising numbers of clothing stores for canines, the onslaught of ASPCA commercials, the intensity of the anti-fur movement, their sudden box office viability, and the constant talks of “animal rights,” and I just have to wonder whether people realize that we are, in fact, people, and dogs are, in fact, animals. Call me once every human in the world has rights. Then, I’ll start to worry about whether the dogs do. Rant over.
Bride Wars – Fox – $11.8 million – $3,640 PTA
I still don’t feel like talking about this film, but I’ve got it to give it credit for its good box office run thus far. It’s the girl version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and it’s probably headed for a $60-65 million finish. Like I said, welcome to EEE!
The Unborn – Universal – $9.8 million – $4,175
I know it was aided by the holiday weekend effect, but a 50% drop is pretty good for a horror film in its second weekend opening against another frightfest. With $33 million so far, this is a huge victory for Universal, who solidly advertised the film. You know, I’m seeing a trend here, Hollywood: If you believe in the films you put out and advertise them effectively, they do well at the box office! Weird, huh?
Defiance – Paramount Vantage – $9.2 million – $5,146
Okay, I’m saying it now. Outside of the Bond franchise, Daniel Craig is box office poison. The whole release kind of confuses me, actually. I heard almost nothing about this film, which cost a hefty $60 million, and after two weeks in very limited release, it failed to light up with moviegoers. Add in lackluster reviews, and you have a true misfire.
Slumdog Millionaire – Fox Searchlight – $5.9 million – $10,137 PTA
Seeing that my second-favorite film of 2008 just had an incredible 56% increase on the heels of its Golden Globes win erases any of the malice I was feeling towards Paul Blart and Bride Wars. There is hope for audiences yet! It really is quite amazing that in its tenth week of release, Slumdog Millionaire still has a per theater average of $10,137, the second highest in the Top 12. If this gets the Oscar for Best Picture (and it’s looking more and more like it will), we could be looking at a $100 million earner here!
The Rest Of ‘Em
You don’t really need to hear me talk about Marley And Me, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, and Bedtime Stories anymore, do you? It’s hard to believe that they came out just 25 days ago, because I feel like Ive been talking about them for forever! Suffice it to say, they were all solid performers of the Christmas season that kicked off what could be a historic winter at the box office. The full 3-day weekend numbers are below:
Top 12 For January 16-18
||Paul Blart: Mall Cop
||My Bloody Valentine 3D
||Hotel for Dogs
||Marley & Me
||The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
|All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.
For the record, at the end of the day, I’m okay with Paul Blart: Mall Cop
being on top of the charts. It isn’t going to kill me, and hey, I might even chuckle once or twice if I watched it. You know, my little sister, who’s six years old, loves
slapstick comedy. She’s as sweet as a peach, but if I stub my toe or poke my eye or trip and fall, the girl can not contain her laughter! So who am I to say that Blart
isn’t comedy?! It’s not comedy that I necessarily want to see, but I’m not about to totally discount the collective consciousness. Now let’s hear what you think about the weekend!