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Sunday, September 28, 2008

'Eagle Eye' soars to huge $29.2m debut, Sept. 26-28, 2008

Thanks to a hefty marketing push and the surging star power of Shia LeBeouf, Paramount/DreamWorks' Eagle Eye dominated the box office with a $29.2 million debut, posting one of the largest September openings in history. Three other films made their wide release debuts this weekend, including Diane Lane and Richard Gere's Nights in Rodanthe, Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna and a surprisingly strong fourth place finish for Kirk Cameron's Fireproof.

Averaging a top ten best $8,319 in 3,510 theaters, the $80 million budgeted Eagle Eye posted the fourth biggest September weekend in history, behind only 2002's Sweet Home Alabama with $35.6m, 1998's Rush Hour with $33m, and 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose with $30m. Produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by D.J. Caruso (who teamed up with LeBeouf on last year's $80 million hit Disturbia), the film wasn't well received by critics. However, a 26% increase in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday ($9.8m to $12.3m) is an encouraging sign for the film's word of mouth going forward.

In second was the Warner romance Nights in Rodanthe, which debuted with $13.6 million. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the Diane Lane-Richard Gere starrer averaged a solid $5,018 in 2,704 theaters. The pair also teamed up in 2002's Unfaithful, which debuted with $14.1 million on its way to $52.7 million domestic. Reviews were just as unkind as Eagle Eye.

Last week's champ Lakeview Terrace fell 53% to $7 million, bringing its ten day cume to $25.7 million. The Sony release should reach $40 million by the end of its run.

The big surprise of the weekend came from Kirk Cameron's drama Fireproof, which defied most estimates with a strong $6.5 million opening. Launching in just 839 theaters, the $500,000 budgeted Christian-themed drama averaged an incredible $7,764 per theater. Promoted heavily in churches and with religious groups across the country, the film is the just latest in a new wave of low-budget theatrical releases tapping into the demographic. 2006's Facing the Giants, an independently produced $100,000 budgeted football drama released by IDP, made waves bowing with $1.3 million and finishing with a highly profitable $10.1 million. The films marketing campaign was almost exclusively based on word of mouth.

Rounding out the top five was the Coen brothers' dark comedy Burn After Reading, which took in another $6.2 million bringing its cume to $45.5 million. The Brad Pitt-George Clooney starrer has not surpassed The Ladykillers as the second highest grossing film of their careers, behind only last year's Best Film winner No Country for Old Men, which took home $74.3 million.

Spike Lee turned out a dud in his first foray into the war genre, as his film Miracle at St. Anna took in a disappointing $3.5 million in 1,185 theaters for a $2,954 average. Reviews were poor, with just 29% of critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com giving the film a recommendation.

Thanks to the powerhouse debut from Eagle Eye, the top ten films grossed $82.2 million, up 15% from last year's comparable frame when The Game Plan debuted at No. 1 with $23 million.

The numbers, Sept. 26-28, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Eagle Eye $29,200,000 3,510 $8.319 $29,200,000 -- 1 Paramount
2 Nights in Rodanthe $13,570,000 2,704 $5,018 $13,570,000 -- 1 Warner Bros.
3 Lakeview Terrace $7,000,000 2,467 $2,837 $25,700,000 -53.3 2 Sony
4 Fireproof $6,514,000 839 $7,764 $6,514,000 -- 1 Samuel Goldwyn
5 Burn After Reading $6,169,000 2,649 $2,329 $45,540,000 -44.1 3 Focus
6 Igor $5,500,000 2,341 $2,349 $14,339,000 -29.5 2 MGM
7 Righteous Kill $3,803,000 3,011 $1,263 $34,805,000 -48.8 3 Overture
8 My Best Friend's Girl $3,800,000 2,636 $1,442 $14,529,000 -54.0 2 Lionsgate
9 Miracle at St. Anna $3,501,000 1,185 $2,954 $3,501,000 -- 1 Buena Vista
10 The Family That Preys $3,160,000 1,604 $1,970 $32,796,000 -56.5 3 Lionsgate

Sunday, September 21, 2008

'Lakeview Terrace' scares off competition with $15.6m debut, Sept. 19-21, 2008

While Americans were digesting a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street this weekend, they opted to sulk their sorrows with Samuel L. Jackson's thriller Lakeview Terrace, which fended off three newcomers for the top spot.

Sony Screen Gems' Lakeview Terrace thrilled audiences with a $15.6 million debut, averaging an impressive $6,331 in 2,464 theaters. Budgeted at a modest $20 million, the PG-13 pic shrugged off poor reviews thanks to a big marketing push from Sony. Directed by Neil LaBute, critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a "rotten" 40% recommendation rating.

Last week's champ Burn After Reading slipped one notch to second, falling 41% to $11.3 million. In ten days the $37 million budgeted Coen Brothers release has grossed $36.4 million. At its current pace, look for the Focus Features release to finish with $60-65 million domestic.

Is the Dane Cook experiment finally finished? One hopes so, as his latest romantic comedy disaster My Best Friend's Girl disappointed with an estimated $8.3 million in third. Averaging a weak $3,187 in 2,604 theaters, the $20 million budgeted Lions Gate release opened far below his last film Good Luck Chuck, which opened to $13.7 million last year. The film was by far the most poorly-reviewed release this weekend, with just 6% of critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com giving the film a positive recommendation rating.

Debuting in fourth was MGM's computer-animated comedy Igor, which took in $8 million in 2,339 theaters for a not so great $3,425 average. Budgeted at $30 million the film was poorly received by critics.

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino's Righteous Kill fell 54% to $7.7 million in fifth, bringing its ten-day cume to $28.8 million. The $60 million budgeted Overture Films release should finish with $40 million domestic.

The best reviewed new release was also the weakest, as the Ricky Gervais comedy Ghost Town took in $5.2 million in eighth, averaging $3,436 in 1,505 theaters. Costarring Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni, the $20m Dreamworks release saw significantly less mainstream advertising than both Lakeview and My Best Friend's Girl. Paramount distributed the picture.

In limited release, Paramount Vantage's Keira Knightley starrer The Duchess grossed $203,000 in seven theaters, averaging an impressive $28,932.

With four new release, the top ten films grossed an estimated $74.6 million, down 1% from last year's comparable frame when Resident Evil: Extinction debuted at No. 1 with $23.7 million.

The numbers, Sept. 19-21, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Lakeview Terrace $15,600,000 2,464 $6,331 $15,600,000 -- 1 Sony
2 Burn After Reading $11,295,000 2,657 $4,251 $36,401,000 -41.0 2 Focus
3 My Best Friend's Girl $8,300,000 2,604 $3,187 $8,300,000 -- 1 Lionsgate
4 Igor $8,010,000 2,339 $3,425 $8,010,000 -- 1 MGM
5 Righteous Kill $7,700,000 3,152 $2,443 $28,810,000 -52.7 2 Overture
6 The Family That Preys $7,500,000 2,070 $3,623 $28,356,000 -56.8 2 Lionsgate
7 The Women $5,310,000 2,995 $1,773 $19,213,000 -47.5 2 Picturehouse
8 Ghost Town $5,171,000 1,505 $3,436 $5,171,000 -- 1 Paramount
9 The Dark Knight $2,950,000 1,905 $1,549 $521,925,000 -28.5 10 Warner Bros.
10 The House Bunny $2,800,000 2,675 $1,047 $45,724,000 -32.6 5 Sony

Monday, September 15, 2008

'Burn After Reading' debuts big with $19.4m, Sept. 14-16, 2008

Four strong debuts headlined a very powerful September weekend as the marketplace saw four films debuting with over $10 million each for the first time in history. The Coen brothers' Burn After Reading led all films, followed closely by Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys. Overall, the top ten films grossed 39% more than last year's comparable frame when Jodie Foster's The Brave One topped.

Hot off their Best Film and Best Director Oscars at this year's Academy Awards for No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers's comedy Burn After Reading led all films with an estimated $19.4 million debut. Averaging a strong $7,320 from 2,651 theaters, the Focus Features release was the biggest opening in the company's history, as well as the career best for both Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring an A-list ensemble cast including Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich and Tilda Swinton, the $37 million budgeted pic was boosted by a huge marketing campaign, a star-studded cast and generally positive reviews from critics (79% of critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a "fresh" recommendation).

The box office's closest thing to the Midas touch is Tyler Perry, and the writer/director/actor/hit-maker continued his incredible run with an $18 million opening from his low-budget comedy The Family That Preys. Averaging a top ten best $8,705 in 2,070 theaters, the Lionsgate release was Perry's third major hit of the past year, following last year's Meet the Browns ($20.1m debut) and Why Did I Get Married? ($21.4m debut). The biggest hit of Perry's brief but highly profitable career was 2006's $6 million budgeted Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, which debuted with $30 million and went on to gross $63.2 million domestic.

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino's action-thriller Righteous Kill opened in third with $16.5 million, averaging $5,235 in 3,152 theaters. With both actors having seen significant depreciation in box office prowess over the past few years, the debut was a nice change of pace. It was De Niro's best since 2005's Hide and Seek took in $22 million, and Pacino's best since 2002's Insomnia opened to $20.9 million. The actors previously teamed up in 1995's Heat, which debuted with $8.4 million on its way to $67.4 million domestic. Reviews were mostly negative for the $60 million budgeted Overtures production.

Meg Ryan's remake The Women debuted in fourth with $10.1 million, averaging a lackluster $3,406 in 2,962 theaters. The ensemble pic co-starring Anette Bening, Jada Pinkett, and Eva Mendes, the Picturehouse release was savaged by critics.

Rounding out the top five was Sony's comedy The House Bunny, which fell a top ten best 22% to $4.3 million, bringing its cume to $42.2 million. Tropic Thunder finally broke the $100 million after falling 42% to $4.2 million this weekend, pushing its cume to $103 million.

Thanks to four double-digit debuts the top ten films grossed an estimated $83.1 million, up 39% from last year's comparable frame when The Brave One opened in the top spot with $13.5 million. It was up 47% from 2006 when Gridiron Gang topped with $14.4 million.

The numbers, Sept. 12-14, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Burn After Reading $19,404,000 2,651 $7,320 $19,404,000 -- 1 Focus
2 The Family That Preys $18,020,000 2,070 $8,705 $18,020,000 -- 1 Lionsgate
3 Righteous Kill $16,500,000 3,152 $5,235 $16,500,000 -- 1 Overture
4 The Women $10,090,000 2,962 $3,406 $10,090,000 -- 1 Picturehouse
5 The House Bunny $4,300,000 2,763 $1,556 $42,154,000 -22.0 4 Sony
6 Tropic Thunder $4,180,000 2,927 $1,428 $102,971,000 -42.2 5 Paramount
7 The Dark Knight $4,010,000 2,191 $1,830 $517,675,000 -27.3 9 Warner Bros.
8 Bangkok Dangerous $2,400,000 2,650 $906 $12,531,000 -69.2 2 Lionsgate
9 Traitor $2,132,000 2,014 $1,059 $20,735,000 -50.1 3 Overture
10 Death Race $2,020,000 2,007 $1,006 $33,196,000 -45.6 4 Universal

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First place little consolation for 'Bangkok Dangerous', Sept. 5-7, 2008

Audiences apparently opted for other forms of entertainment in the first (and typically slowest) weekend of the Fall season, as a stale looking marketplace slumped to its lowest level in five years, thanks to an unimpressive No. 1 debut from Nicolas Cage's Bangkok Dangerous and a number of aging top ten releases.

Topping the box office with just $7.8 million was Nic Cage's action-remake Bangkok Dangerous, which posted one of the actor's worst ever career debuts for an action film. Averaging just $2,943 in 2,650 theaters, the Lions Gate release just barely beat out last year's Next ($7.1 million) as the lowest grossing action debut of Cage's career. A remake of the 1999 Thai film, the $45 million budgeted R-rated release was hurt by poor reviews, a bad hairdo for Cage, and an even worse marketing campaign from Lions Gate.

After its three week run at the top, DreamWorks/Paramount's war comedy Tropic Thunder slipped 35% to $7.5 million in second. In four weeks the $92 million budgeted Robert Downey Jr. starrer has grossed $96.8 million, and should cruise past $100 million by next weekend. At its current pace, look for the Ben Stiller directed pic to finish with a healthy $110-115 million domestic.

Climbing one notch to third was Sony's The House Bunny, which slipped just 29% to $5.9 million. In three weeks the $25m budgeted Anna Faris comedy has grossed $37 million.

Finishing in fourth was Warner's blockbuster superhero pic The Dark Knight with $5.7 million, bringing its domestic cume to an incredible $512.2 million. Internationally, the film added $11.8 million, pushing its overseas cume to $437.2 million. That puts its global cume at $949.4 million, within earshot of the global top five films in history (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is next up at No. 5 with $961 million).

Don Cheadle's Traitor dropped 41% to $4.7 million, pushing its 12-day haul to $17.7 million. Budgeted at $22 million, the Overture Films release should finish with $25-30 million domestic.

The biggest drop in the top ten went to the Vin Diesel actioner Babylon A.D., which dived 58% to $4 million, bringing its ten day take to a disappointing $17.2 million. Budgeted at a hefty $70 million, the Fox release should finish with a disastrous $25 million domestic.

Rounding out the top ten was Sony's stoner action pic Pineapple Express, which continued its impressive run at the box office. Budgeted at $27 million, the Seth Rogan-James Franco starrer has brought in $84.2 million in five weeks.

As noted earlier, the top ten films grossed an anemic $47.6 million, down a whopping 23% from last year's comparable frame when the Russell Crowe Western 3:10 to Yuma topped with $14 million.

The numbers, Sept. 5-7, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Bangkok Dangerous $7,800,000 2,650 $2,943 $7,800,000 -- 1 Lionsgate
2 Tropic Thunder $7,500,000 3,446 $2,176 $96,811,000 -34.9 4 Paramount
3 The House Bunny $5,900,000 2,736 $2,156 $36,999,000 -29.1 3 Sony
4 The Dark Knight $5,715,000 2,575 $2,219 $512,198,000 -33.7 8 Warner Bros.
5 Traitor $4,660,000 2,108 $2,211 $17,652,000 -40.8 2 Overture
6 Babylon A.D. $4,000,000 3,425 $1,168 $17,198,000 -57.8 2 Fox
7 Death Race $3,600,000 2,586 $1,392 $29,798,000 -42.9 3 Universal
8 Disaster Movie $3,300,000 2,642 $1,249 $10,871,000 -43.5 2 Lionsgate
9 Mamma Mia! $2,710,000 1,904 $1,423 $136,294,000 -35.7 8 Universal
10 Pineapple Express $2,400,000 1,802 $1,332 $84,158,000 -32.1 5 Sony

Monday, September 1, 2008

'Tropic Thunder' strikes again, while 'Dark Knight' topples $500m, August 29-Sept. 1, 2008

The marketplace ended a surprisingly strong summer off with a whimper this Labor Day weekend, as the top ten films managed a mere $86.4 million over the four-day holiday frame (down 24% from last year). Led by three week champ Tropic Thunder, moviegoers were largely unimpressed by any new offerings from the studios as Babylon A.D., Traitor, and Disaster Movie all disappointed in their opening frames. Meanwhile, the biggest news of the weekend had to be The Dark Knight becoming just the second (and fastest) film to ever break $500 million in the domestic box office, a truly amazing feat for the Caped Crusader.

With three debuts to contend with, Paramount/DreamWorks' war-comedy Tropic Thunder managed to hold onto the top spot for the third consecutive weekend, falling just 29% to $14.3 million. That brings the $90 million budgeted pic's total to an impressive $86.6 million in 18 days of release, essentially assuring the film will break $100 million in North America. Thanks to good word of mouth and a dire lack of competitors throughout August, the Ben Stiller-Robert Downey Jr. starrer should finish with $110-115 million by the end of its run. For Robert Downey Jr., this was one big summer. May's blockbuster Iron Man kicked off the summer season with a shocking $317.5 million, potentially giving the actor a combined $430 million in domestic sales in a matter of four and a half months.

Studios are usually relegated to dumping semi-sizeable summer release fodder over the Labor Day weekend and this year was no different with the opening of Fox's disastrously reviewed actioner Babylon A.D.. Budgeted at $70 million, the Vin Diesel starrer took in just $12 million over the four-day weekend, averaging a sorry $3,540 in 3,390 theaters. From Friday-Sunday, the R-rated sci-fi thriller managed just $9.6 million, averaging just $2,822.

It was just one in a long line of big budget bombs for Fox, as the studio failed to produce a $100 million summer hit for the first time since 1997. That's an incredible 10-year streak broken by a string of highly disappointing and poorly reviewed releases this summer ranging from What Happens in Vegas ($80m) and The Happening ($64m), to Meet Dave ($11.6m) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe ($20.7m), which also wins the award for worst movie title of 2008.

Falling just 18% to $8.6 million over the three-day weekend and $11 million over the four-day holiday frame, Warner's record-shattering blockbuster The Dark Knight surged past the $500 million barrier, becoming the fastest film in history to do so in just 45 days. It was also just the second film to ever break the mark, following 1997's Titanic with $600 million. At its current pace look for the film to rake in $525 million domestic, and another $500 million worldwide, putting the film over the $1 billion mark worldwide.

Sony's comedy The House Bunny finished in fourth with $10.2 million over the holiday weekend, bringing its 11 day total to $29.8 million. Budgeted at just $25 million, the Anna Faris starrer should finish with $45-50 million domestic.

In fifth was Don Cheadle's thriller Traitor, which rounded out the top five with $10 million, and $11.5 million over its six-day opening starting on Wednesday. Averaging a solid $4,869 in 2,054 theaters, the Overture Films production received largely mixed reviews from critics.

Lionsgate's spoof comedy Disaster Movie crapped out $6.9 million over its four day bow, averaging just $2,604 in 2,642 theaters. Budgeted at just $20 million, its three-day take was just $5.8 million, much lower than similar release debuts Meet the Spartans ($18.5m) and Epic Movie ($18.6m). LOook for a quick exit for the poorly-reviewed release.

Universal's Mamma Mia! continue its path as the Hairspray of 2008, experiencing a 1% uptick in sales to $5.8 million. The musical took in $6.9 million over the four-day frame, pushing its cume to an incredible $132.9 million. Budgeted at just $65 million, the Meryl Streep starrer should finish with $145 million domestic. Internationally the film has been even better, amassing $206.7 million, pushing its worldwide take to $339 million.

'The Dark Knight' breaks $500 million domestic

Sunday marked just the second time in history that a film has ever broken past the $500 million mark in North America, as Warner Brother's blockbuster The Dark Knight took in $8.7 million over the Friday to Sunday portion of Labor Day weekend, pushing its seven week cume to an unbelievable $502 million, the fastest any film has ever reached the mark. Budgeted at $185 million, the Christopher Nolan sequel has also amassed $416.7 million internationally, bringing its global take to $919.1 million. Only one other film has broken that mark domestic, 1997's Titanic with $600 million.

Debuting over the July 18th weekend with a record shattering $158.4 million, the Christian Bale starrer has shown remarkable legs in its march towards the quintuple century mark. Its global total now stands as the 10th highest in history. Look for the Caped Crusader to surge past the $1 billion mark worldwide by the end of its run.