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Sunday, December 14, 2008

'The Day the Earth Stood Still' obliterates competition with $31m debut, Dec. 12-14, 2008

Facing an aging lineup of Holiday offerings, most of which have now been out between 3-5 weeks, Fox's big budget sci-fi remake The Day the Earth Stood Still blew away the competition with a strong but not overly impressive $31 million bow, averaging a strong $8,708 in a 3,560 theaters. Reportedly budgeted at $80 million, the remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic finished well below industry expectations given the soft competition and historically lucrative release date (last year's I Am Legend topped with a record $77.2 million), giving Fox a disappointing finish to one of their most challenging years in recent memory.

Starring Keanu Reeves, who landed a career best opening for a film without The Matrix in its title, the poorly-reviewed pic ranks as the second biggest 2008 debut for Fox behind March's Horton Hears a Who with $45 million. Earth edged 2005's Constantine, which netted the star a $29.8 million bow. The debut was well short of another high profile 2008 disaster pic Cloverfield, which debuted in January with $40.1 million. Critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave Earth a "rotten" 22% recommendation rating, which may have kept audiences at home this weekend. With audience feedback looking somewhat lukewarm, look for steep drops in the coming weeks.

One of the biggest surprises this Holiday season has been the superb staying power of Warner's Four Christmases, which fell another slight 21% to $13.3 million in second, bringing its three week cume to $$88 million. Starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, the holiday comedy has shrugged off extremely poor reviews and is on pace to become just the fourth film released in the past two months to break $100 million. Budgeted at $80 million, the film looks on pace to break $135 million domestic.

Summit Entertainment's smash hit Twilight continued is tremendous run at the box office, finishing in third with $8 million, down just 39% from a week ago. The studio quickly tried to put to rest mounting tensions from their dismissal of director Catherine Hardwicke from the studio's planned two sequels, naming Chris Weitz (Golden Compass, About a Boy) as the new helm. In four weeks, the $37 million budgeted blockbuster has amassed $150.1 million, and could reach $175 million by the end of its domestic run.

Disney's decision to tack on a new Cars Toons 3D short from Pixar to the beginning of Bolt proved to be a nice boost to the film's bottom line, as the family comedy fell a slight 23% to $7.5 million in fourth. In four weeks, the computer-animated pic has grossed $88.9 million, and should surpass $100 million before the New Year.

Fox's big-budget bust Australia slipped 39% to $4.3 million, rounding out the top ten. In three weeks, the $130 million budgeted epic has grossed just $37.9 million.

The spy actioner Quantum of Solace fell 44% to an estimated $3.8 million, bringing its domestic cume to $157.7 million. The film now ranks third overall among Bond films, behind only Casino Royale's $167 million and Die Another Day's $160.9 million. Internationally, the $200 million budgeted pic has grossed $357.9 million, bringing its worldwide haul to an impressive $515.5 million.

The only other wide release debut in the top ten this weekend was the family reunion drama Nothing Like the Holidays, which debuted with just $3.5 million in seventh. Released by Overture Pictures, the Spanish language release averaged just $2,095 in 1,671 theaters.

There was another wide release debut of note (barely), finishing in 16th place. Freestyle Pictures's computer-animated Delgo, a film nearly ten years in the making, debuted just $916,000, despite opening in a wide 2,160 theaters. The extremely dated looking and poorly-reviewed pic sputtered with a pathetic $424 per theater this weekend, which meant there was plenty of leg room in theaters for attending audiences.

Oscar hopefuls performed very well this weekend, with Focus Features' Milk seeing a 43% spike (thanks to 229 additional theaters) to $2.6 million, bringing its cume to $7.6 million. Fox Searchlight's Slumdog Millionaire took in $2.2 million, bringing its cume to $8 million.

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