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Monday, October 20, 2008

'Max Payne' leashes 'Chihuahua' with $18m debut, Oct. 17-19, 2008

It took four new releases to unseat Disney's Beverly Hills Chihuahua from the top spot at the box office, with the top honor going to Fox's high profile video game adaptation Max Payne, which topped with an impressive $18 million debut. Chihuahua edged out Fox Searchlight's The Secret Life of Bees for second, with Oliver Stone's W. finishing fourth. With the bevy of new releases, the top ten films once again outpaced last year's comparable frame.

Fox's dreadful 2008 was allayed somewhat by the strong opening of its stylish video game adaptation Max Payne, which took the top spot with $18 million. Budgeted at a modest $35 million, the Mark Wahlberg starrer averaged $5,332 in 3,376 theaters, giving the studio its first No. 1 debut in seven months. Adapted from the popular Rockstar Games series, the film received overall negative reviews from critics.

Eeking out a second place finish was Disney's hit comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which has been one of the biggest surprises of the Fall season. Falling just 36% to $11.2 million, the G-rated family comedy has now amassed $69.1 million in 17 days, maintaining its pace to hit $100 million domestic.

If estimates hold, Fox Searchlight's period drama The Secret Life of Bees finished a strong third with an $11.1 million debut. Averaging a top ten best $6,945 in 1,591 theaters, the adaptation from Sue Monk Kidd's popular novel stars Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning. The debut marked the third biggest opening ever for the studio, behind only The Hills Have Eyes ($15.7m) and Street Kings ($12.5m). Reviews for Bees were mixed.

Perhaps the most talked about film of the weekend, Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic W., opened solidly in fourth with $10.6 million, averaging a solid $5,199 in 2,030 theaters. Starring Josh Brolin as the one and only, the $30 million budgeted pic received mixed reviews from critics. The film attracted a largely older crowd, with nearly half its audience over 40 years of age. The debut was significantly lower than Stone's last film, 2006's World Trade Center, which bowed with $18.7 million.

Rounding out the top five was Paramount's action hit Eagle Eye, which slipped just 33% to $7.3 million. In four weeks, the Shia LaBeouf starrer has grossed $81.3 million. Budgeted at $80 million, the film should surpass $100 million domestic.

The weakest debut of the weekend was Summit Entertainment's teen comedy Sex Drive, which opened with just $3.6 million in 2,421 theaters. Averaging a pathetic $1,473, the $19 million budgeted R-rated pic will have to look for action on DVD to break even.

Thanks to four major debuts, the top ten films grossed an estimated $81.5 million, up 12% from last year's comparable frame when 30 Days of Night topped with $16 million.

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