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Sunday, March 16, 2008

'Horton' stampedes to $45.1m debut

Horton Hears a Who stampeded to the top spot at the box office with an estimated $45.1 million, giving the sluggish start of 2008 a nice shot in the arm after posting the biggest debut of the year and fourth biggest March opening ever. While the Fox/Blue Sky Animation Studios' release failed to match the levels of their record-breaking Ice Age: The Meltdown back in March of 2006 ($68m), the Dr. Seuss animated pic did come close to matching the original Ice Age, which debuted with $46.3 million back in March of 2002. Those two films grossed $195.3m and $176.3m respectively.
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Starring Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, the well-reviewed computer-animated feature averaged a strong $11,406 in 3,954 theaters, posting the fourth biggest March opening ever. Only last year's monstrous 300 ($70.9m), 2006's Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68m) and 2002's Ice Age ($46.3m) have opened larger. It also ranks as the fifth largest opening ever for a G-rated release.

Directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, Horton is the first feature-length animated adaptation of a Dr. Seuss work (Chuck Jones's 1970 'Horton' adaptation was 26 minutes long, as was his 1966 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'). Two live-action adaptations of Dr. Seuss have been released, 2003's The Cat in the Hat which opened with $38.3m ($101.1m total), and 2000's How the Grinch Stole Christmas with $55 million ($260m total). Budgeted at a moderate $85 million, look for Horton to post numbers similar to the first Ice Age movie.

Falling 54% in its sophomore frame was last week's champ 10,000 B.C., which took in an estimated $16.4 million in second. In ten days the Roland Emmerich directed prehistoric adventure has grossed $61.2 million. Budgeted at $105 million, the poorly-reviewed Warner release should finish with $80-85 million domestically. Internationally, the film has amassed $73 million, pushing its worldwide take to $134 million.

The cage fight actioner Never Back Down opened in third with $8.6 million, averaging $3,155 in 2,729 theaters. Released by Summit Entertainment, the film carried a $20 million budget which will be hard to recoup theatrically.

Martin Lawrence's College Road Trip fell just 42% in its sophomore frame to $7.9 million, bringing its ten-day take to $24.3 million. Look for the Disney release to finish with $40 million domestically.

Sony's Vantage Point continued to demonstrate strong legs, falling just 27% to an estimated $5.4 million, bringing its cume to an impressive $59.2 million. The film should reach $75 million domestically.

Jason Statham's well-reviewed The Bank Job fell a top ten best (believe it or not) 17% to an estimated $4.9 million, bringing the Lionsgate release's total to $13.1 million in ten days.

Among other debuts, Universal's thriller Doomsday opened to just $4.7 million, averaging an awful $2,450 in 1,936 theaters.

Thanks to Horton, the top ten films virtually matched last year's comparable frame when 300 once again held the top spot with $32.9 million.

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