The first weekend of 2009 provided Hollywood with a strong start for the year. Marley And Me, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, and Valkyrie remained the top four choices for moviegoers, and the top seven features each held their rank from last weekend. Though there was very little movement on the chart, solid holdovers and tiny drops led the Top 12 to earn $130 million in total box office, a 7% increase over the first weekend of 2008. It’s a happy new year, indeed.
Marley And Me again took the top spot, grossing $24 million, for an eye-popping $106 million total. The Fox production dropped 34% from last week and had a solid $6,682 per theater average, which guarantees that it will keep playing in theaters for a good while longer. Marley And Me has firmly re-established the box office vitality of both Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, and it really is a victory for all those involved. Between this and last year’s Alvin and the Chipmunks, Fox has demonstrated that they know how to open a movie in late December to great success, so if you’re wondering about the prospects of Fox’s next December title, James Cameron’s Avatar, which is being released on December 19th of this year, I’m making an early prediction that it’s going to be HUGE.
Disney’s Adam Sandler vehicle, Bedtime Stories, evaded any backlash from its horrendous reviews and managed to drop just 26% to $20 million. Proving that the holidays are kind to family films, Bedtime Stories earned a $5,507 venue average, as parents took advantage of the winter break and flocked to the theaters with their kids one last time, before they had to go back to school. The film has grossed a nice $85 million so far.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button fell 31% in its second weekend, raking in an estimated $18 million dollars. The Paramount picture had a good $6,158 per theater average. There’s something nice about seeing a true-blue, old-school Hollywood drama starring A-list leads like Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett do so well at the box office. It just makes me feel like there is normalcy in the world, which is comforting. After twelve days, the picture has amassed a very good $79 million.
United Artists’ Valkyrie continued its surprisingly strong run this weekend, adding $14 million to its box office total, with a $5,505 venue average. The WWII drama starring Tom Cruise has caught on quite well with male viewers, and with $60 million already in the bank, it could be headed to a $90 million total. So while Tom Cruise may not be all the way back to his Mission: Impossible/ Top Gun glory days, he’s well on his way to career redemption.
The next three spots are filled by three films that can’t seem to get enough of each other, for they have been stuck together on the chart since they debuted three weeks ago. In fifth place is the Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel comedy Yes Man, which earned $14 million. The Warner Brothers film has performed admirably after its lackluster start, and it now sits with $79 million total. In sixth is Seven Pounds, the Will Smith flick that just didn’t ever catch on. This weekend the Sony drama found $10 million, pushing its total to $60 million. And in seventh is Universal’s The Tale Of Despereaux, which grossed $7 million, for a modest $43 million total.
Doubt came in eighth place this weekend, as the effects of awards season begin to show their strength. The religious drama from Miramax fell only 6% to $5 million. It’s $3,909 venue average isn’t amazingly strong, but its enough to keep it around for a few weeks, and if it can pick up some awards, it will keep up its slow burn at the box office. Thus far, it has earned a pretty-good-considering-the-subject-matter $19 million. The Day The Earth Stood Still, a film that won’t be winning any awards, earned $4.8 million this weekend for an alright $74 million total.
And now for the film that I am unabashedly in love with: Slumdog Millionaire. I’m serious, it’s not like I just liked this movie a little bit- I LOVED it. I’m talking Wall-E levels of affection here! To my great pleasure, the Danny Boyle masterpiece did great at the box office this week, actually increasing 11% to $4.7 million, for a $29 million total. Even better, it’s $7,794 per theater average was the best in the Top 12! Fox Searchlight has mastered the art of rolling out lovable, artistic flicks like this one, and they’re doing a great job with Slumdog Millionaire. Seriously, go see it.
Filling up the last two spots are November stalwarts, Twilight and Bolt. The Summit vampire movie sucked another $4.5 million out of Americans’ pockets for a $176 million total. It will be interesting to see how the third Underworld movie, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, which debuts later this month, will perform in this newly-invigorated vampire genre. Finishing off the Top 12 is Disney’s Bolt, a film that has recovered nicely after a very slow start. This weekend, it grossed $3.2 million for a $110 total, which represents a great 4.23 multiplier. (For the uninitiated, a multiplier is calculated by dividing a movie’s total gross by its opening weekend.)
From here on out, look for things to cool down a bit now that the holidays have come to a close. The box office should return to its regular cycle of low weekday and high weekend numbers. Next weekend will see the debut of three new films: Bride Wars, The Unborn, and Not Easily Broken. Check back next Thursday for my Weekend Preview, throughout the week for new industry-related stories. For now though, here are this weekend’s results:
|#||Movie Title|| 3-Day Gross
|1||Marley And Me||$24,050,000||-34%||$6,862||$106,510,250|
|3||The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button||$18,400,000||-31%||$6,158||$79,011,000|
|7||The Tale Of Despereaux||$7,019,816||-21%||$2,271||$43,741,816|
|9||The Day The Earth Stood Still||$4,850,000||-37%||$2,075||$74,299,426|