EInsiders.com : : : Reviews | DVD | Inside Scoop | Box Office | Interviews | Columns | Obits | Contests

Sunday, January 25, 2009

'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' holds off werewolves for No. 1 with $21.5m, Jan. 23-25, 2009

For the second straight weekend Kevin James's comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop topped the box office with an estimated $21.5 million, fending off a strong opening salvo from Screen Gem's sequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans with $20.7 million. Sony released both films.

Officially cementing itself as the first big hit of 2009, Paul Blart: Mall Cop slipped just 33% in its sophomore frame to $21.5 million, bringing its ten day cume to a hefty $64.8 million. Budgeted at just $26 million, the PG-comedy is on pace to become the first film released in 2009 to break $100 million. James' career best is last year's comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry co-starring Adam Sandler, which finished with $120 million domestic.

Despite missing the headlining actress that put the Underwold franchise on the map, Sony Screen Gem's Underworld: Rise of the Lycans still managed a strong No. 2 showing in its opening frame, pulling in $20.7 million over the weekend in 2,942 theaters for a strong $7,036 average. The opening of the prequel was slightly below the debuts of its two predecessors, both of which starred Beckinsale as the vampire werewolf-killer. 2003's Underworld debuted with $21.8 million, while its 2006 sequel Underworld: Evolution bowed with $26.9 million. Budgeted at a modest $35 million, the film should finish in the $50 million vicinity domestic.

The most impressive film during the awards season is surprisingly the one that got shut out of the Oscars. Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino shrugged off huge Oscar snubs for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor to finish with $16 million, down just 27% from last weekend. In just seven weeks of mostly limited release the $33 million Hmong drama has grossed $97.6 million, putting it on pace to break $100 million by Friday of next week. Who says an Oscar nomination is the only path to huge financial success for a small acclaimed film? 2004's Million Dollar Baby swept at the Oscars and wound up grossing $100.5 million domestic.

Rounding out the top five with a huge 80% jump in ticket sales was Fox Searchlight's Oscar-frontrunner Slumdog Millionaire, which expanded from 582 to 1,411 theaters and grossed $10.6 million over the weekend. In eleven weeks the Danny Boyle directed pic has amassed $55.9 million. Budgeted at just $14 million, a big night at the Academy Awards could mean a long and lucrative domestic run for the indie pic.

Perhaps suffering from being second out of the gate to Adam Sandler's similarly themed Bedtime Stories, Brendan Fraser's Inkheart debuted in seventh with just $7.7 million, averaging a weak $2,910 in 2,655 theaters. Produced by New Line and release by Warner, the poorly-reviewed release should see a quick exit from the top ten.

After hitting the jackpot for Oscar nominations (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress), Brad Pitt's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button climbed back into the top ten with $6 million, bringing its five week cume to $111 million. Desperately needing to give their $150 million budgeted epic a second wind, Paramount is hoping the increased exposure of a potentially huge Oscar night will get moviegoers excited to sit through the three-hour film again.

Thanks to more Oscar nominated films still playing in theaters this year, the top ten films grossed $117.6 million, up 8% from last year's comparable frame when Meet the Spartans topped with $18.5 million.

The numbers, January 23-25, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $21,500,000 3,144 $6,838 $64,800,000 -32.5 2 Sony
2 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans $20,700,000 2,942 $7,036 $20,700,000 -- 1 Sony
3 Gran Torino $15,980,000 3,045 $5,248 $97,556,000 -27.3 7 Warner Bros.
4 Hotel for Dogs $12,360,000 3,271 $3,779 $36,955,000 -27.3 2 Paramount
5 Slumdog Millionaire $10,550,000 1,411 $7,477 $55,916,000 80.4 11 Fox Searchlight
6 My Bloody Valentine 3D $10,050,000 2,534 $3,966 $37,725,000 -52.7 2 Lionsgate
7 Inkheart $7,725,000 2,655 $2,910 $7,725,000 -- 1 Warner Bros.
8 Bride Wars $7,000,000 2,621 $2,671 $48,702,000 -39.9 3 Fox
9 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $6,000,000 2,263 $2,651 $111,044,000 7.6 5 Paramount
10 Notorious $5,700,000 1,641 $3,473 $31,795,000 -72.2 2 Fox Searchlight

Spotlight: Twilight (2008)

When relatively unknown Summit Entertainment targeted the high profile weekend-before-Thanksgiving to release their modestly budgeted teen vampire romance, many people paid little attention, assuming Disney's computer-animated pic Bolt would rule the weekend.

Based on Stephanie Meyer's popular quadrilogy of books, people underestimated the cult following the books commanded, as Summit's $37 million investment stunned the industry raking in a whopping $70.6 million in its debut weekend, accounting for nearly half of all ticket sales in the marketplace. The film clobbered both the sophomore outing of Quantum of Solace as well as Disney's big-budget family comedy debut Bolt.

The $70.6 million debut was the fourth largest in November history, behind only the three Harry Potter films which opened in November: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's $102.7m, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's $90.2m, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets's $88.3m. With audiences largely consisting of teen girls, some of whom watched the film multiple times over its opening weekend, the studio quickly green-lit the production of two sequels.

Starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the vampire pic gained bad press when director Catherine Hardwicke was suddenly dismissed from directing the studio's planned two sequels. Rumors swirled of difficulties the studio had working with Harwicke, and Summit quickly named Chris Weitz (Golden Compass, About a Boy) as the new helm.

Twilight's phenomenal domestic run ended with $186 million in ticket sales, with another $139.7 million added overseas, making it the highest grossing vampire pic in history and giving the next two films astronomically high expectations. The studio has announced that the next two films are titled New Moon and Eclipse, just like their respective books. New Moon has a tentative release date of November 2009, with rumors that Dakota Fanning could potentially bare fangs in the sequel.

Budget: $37m
Opening weekend: $70.6m
Domestic Gross: $185.99m
International Gross: $139.68m
Worldwide Gross: $325.66m

source(s): eonline.com, einsiders.com

Monday, January 19, 2009

'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' paces record-shattering MLK Day, Jan. 16-19, 2009

With President-elect Barack Obama set to become our next President at Tuesday's widely anticipated inauguration ceremony, audiences were in a more festive mood to movie watch this MLK Jr. Holiday weekend thanks to five major new releases and an incredible sophomore frame by Clint Eastwood's acclaimed Gran Torino. With four of the top five films pulling in over $20 million each over the four-day holiday frame and the fifth place film pulling in over $17 million, the marketplace posted the biggest MLK Holiday weekend in history, surpassing last year's record mark by 3%. The three-day Friday to Sunday frame also became the biggest January weekend in history.

The record weekend haul was led by Kevin James' hit comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which easily surpassed industry expectations with an estimated $39 million over the four-day holiday frame and $31.8 million from Friday to Sunday. Averaging a whopping $10,115 in 3,144 theaters, the Sony release shrugged off poor reviews thanks to a hefty TV marketing blitz over the last couple of sports-heavy weekends. Budgeted at a modest $26 million, the mall cop comedy posted the third biggest January opening in history, behind only last year's Cloverfield ($40m) and 1997's Star Wars: Special Edition ($35.6m). Look or the film to surpass $85 million domestic for Sony and Adam Sandler's production company Happy Madison.

Clint Eastwood's acclaimed Gran Torino lost its top spot, but not before pulling in another impressive $26.2 million, bringing the Warner release's total to $77.2 million. Despite the heavy competition this weekend the $33 million budgeted drama has become the most popular Oscar front-runner still in theaters and could soar to as much as $150 million by the end of its domestic run.

In third was the 3D horror entry My Bloody Valentine 3D, which slashed its way to $24.2 million. Averaging $9,569 in 2,534 theaters, the Lionsgate pic became the widest debut ever for a movie using 3D technology (1,033). Critics were surprisingly positive towards the release, with 70% of critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com giving the film a recommendation rating.

Surprising every in fourth was Fox Searchlight's biopic Notorious, which took in $24 million in just 1,638 theaters, giving the film an incredible $14,652 average, by far the biggest this weekend. The R-rated pic about the slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. played well over the MLK weekend despite mixed reviews.

Rounding out the top five was the kid comedy Hotel for Dogs, which took in $17 million in its debut weekend and $22.5 million over the extended holiday frame.

Paramount Vantage's WWII drama Defiance finished in eighth with $10.7 million, averaging $5,981 in 1,789 theaters. Starring Bond man Daniel Craig, the $50 million budgeted Holocaust drama has now grossed $11 million since its limited release launch three weeks ago.

Breaking into the top ten was Golden Globe winner Slumdog Millionaire, which finished with $7.2 million in tenth place. The Fox Searchlight release has now grossed $44 million in ten weeks of mostly limited release. Budgeted at a mere $15 million, Searchlight plans on adding over 700 more theaters to its release slate this Friday, and the film should continue to see a box office bump thanks to its high profile Golden Globe win for Best Picture.

The numbers, January 16-19, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $39,000,000 3,144 $12,405 $39,000,000 -- 1 Sony
2 Gran Torino $26,210,000 2,972 $8,819 $77,207,000 -11.1 6 Warner Bros.
3 My Bloody Valentine 3D $24,248,000 2,534 $9,569 $24,248,000 -- 1 Lionsgate
4 Notorious $24,000,000 1,638 $14,652 $24,000,000 -- 1 Fox Searchlight
5 Hotel for Dogs $22,500,000 3,271 $6,879 $22,500,000 -- 1 Paramount
6 Bride Wars $14,025,000 3,228 $4,345 $39,852,000 -33.4 2 Fox
7 The Unborn $10,993,000 2,359 $4,660 $34,232,000 -44.5 2 Universal
8 Defiance $10,700,000 1,789 $5,981 $11,041,000 -- 3 Par. Vantage
9 Marley & Me $7,450,000 2,952 $2,524 $133,859,000 -34.6 4 Fox
10 Slumdog Millionaire $7,150,000 582 $12,285 $43,987,000 89.0 10 Fox Searchlight

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eastwood posts career best as 'Gran Torino' tops box office with $29m, Jan. 9-11, 2009

Clint Eastwood posted the biggest wide release opening of his storied career at the ripe old age of 78, as his critically-acclaimed Gran Torino took the top spot with $29 million. Averaging a powerful $10,337 in 2,808 theaters (its first weekend in wide release), the drama easily bested two other very strong debuts this weekend, Bride Wars with $21.5 million in second and the horror entry The Unborn with $21 million in third. Thanks to those three powerful debuts, the box office took in a whopping $143 million in ticket sales, beating last year's comparable frame by a hefty 15%.

Thanks to a boost of 2724 theaters to its limited release slate, Warner's Gran Torino surprisingly took the box office by storm this weekend, giving actor-director Clint Eastwood the best opening of his career. The $29 million debut easily surpassed 2000's Space Cowboys, which opened with $18.1 million. 1993's In the Line of Fire is a distant third with its $15.2 million bow. In five weeks of release (four of which were under very limited release) the $33 million budgeted drama has grossed $40 million, and the film should have no trouble breaking $100 million domestic now that Awards season is in full swing. Eastwood's all-time box office leader is also 1993's In the Line of Fire with $102.3 million.

Anne Hathaway's and Kate Hudson's bridal comedy Bride Wars finished in second with a strong $21.5 million debut, averaging $6,665 in 3,226 theaters. Released by Fox, the $30 million budgeted pic shrugged off poor reviews with a well timed counter-programming marketing campaign in the midst of the NFL playoffs.

In a close third was Universal's horror-thriller The Unborn, which took in $21.1 million in its debut. Averaging a whopping $8,950 in 2,357 theaters, the film was buoyed by a heavy and effective marketing blitz in the last few weeks, warming up audiences for the upcoming Bloody Valentine 3D next weekend.

Fox's well-timed holiday dramedy Marley & Me finally relinquished its top spot with a 53% drop to $11.4 million, bringing its four week cume to a very impressive $123.7 million. The film has now become the second biggest grosser of star Jennifer Aniston's career, just ahead of 2006's The Break-Up with $118.7m, and behind 2003's Bruce Almighty with $242.8m.

Rounding out the top five was Brad Pitt's acclaimed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which fell 49% to $9.5 million, bringing its cume to $94.3 million. Budgeted at $150 million, the Paramount release should finish with $120 million domestic.

Sony's drama Not Easily Broken performed well in limited release, breaking into the top ten with a $5.6 million debut. Averaging a strong $7,735 in just 724 theaters, the $5 million budgeted faith-based pic stars Morris Chestnut.

The numbers, January 9-11, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Gran Torino $29,025,000 2,808 $10,337 $40,065,000 888.4 5 Warner Bros.
2 Bride Wars $21,500,000 3,226 $6,665 $21,500,000 -- 1 Fox
3 The Unborn $21,095,000 2,357 $8,950 $21,095,000 -- 1 Universal
4 Marley & Me $11,350,000 3,478 $3,263 $123,710,000 -53.2 3 Fox
5 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $9,450,000 2,947 $3,207 $94,330,000 -49.4 3 Paramount
6 Bedtime Stories $8,550,000 3,511 $2,435 $97,180,000 -58.3 3 Buena Vista
7 Valkyrie $6,662,000 2,838 $2,347 $71,509,000 -52.7 3 MGM
8 Yes Man $6,155,000 2,955 $2,083 $89,411,000 -55.8 4 Warner Bros.
9 Not Easily Broken $5,600,000 724 $7,735 $5,600,000 -- 1 Sony
10 Seven Pounds $3,900,000 2,456 $1,588 $66,830,000 -61.3 4 Sony

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Audiences still crave 'Marley & Me' in the New Year, Jan. 2-4, 2009


With no new releases ushering in the new year, the top seven film remained identical to their finish last weekend, once again led by the hit Fox dramedy Marley & Me with $24.1 million, followed by Disney's Bedtime Stories with $20.3 million. The entire top ten showed healthy week-over-week strength, with all but one film falling by less than 34%. Thanks to the strong holds the first weekend of 2009 was 9% ahead of the first weekend of 2008, and 28% higher than the comparable weekend of 2007.

Leading the pack for the second straight weekend was Fox's feel-good dramedy Marley & Me, which slipped just 34% to $24.1 million. In just eleven days, the Jennifer Aniston-Owen Wilson starrer has grossed an impressive $106.5 million. At its current pace look for the tear-jerker to easily surpass $150 million domestic in becoming the studio's top grosser of 2008.

Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories showed excellent word of mouth in its sophomore frame, down just 26% to $20.3 million in second. Budgeted at $80 million, the PG-rated comedy adventure has amassed $85.4 million and should finish with $125 million domestic for the Mouse House.

Paramount's acclaimed drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button dropped just 32% to an estimated $18.4 million, bringing its total to $79 million. The $150 million budgeted film should see a boost in sales if it can nab some high profile film awards, but will most likely fall well short of its massive budget in North America.

Tom Cruise's WWII thriller Valkyrie slipped just 33%, taking in $14 million this weekend. The MGM/UA release has now grossed $60.7 million in 11 days. Budgeted at $75, the film will most likely fall just short of $100 million domestic.

Rounding out the top five thanks to a hefty marketing blitz was Warner's comedy Yes Man, which slipped just 17% to $13.9 million. The Jim Carrey starrer has grossed $79.4 million in three weeks. At its current pace, look for the $70 million budgeted release to break $100 million domestic.

Among limited release Oscar front-runners, Fox Searchlight's Slumdog Millionaire and Warner's Gran Torino showed the biggest jumps, spiking 11% and 21% respectively. Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire took in $4.8 million, bringing its total to a fantastic $28.8 million. Clint Eastwood's drama Gran Torino saw a 21% jump in sales in 84 theaters to $2.8 million (and a whopping $33,571 per theater average), bringing its four week cume to an impressive $9.7 million.

With virtually the entire top ten exhibiting strong legs, the weekend finished up 9% from last year's comparable frame when National Treasure: Book of Secrets held on to the top spot with $20.1 million. It was up an even more impressive 28% from 2006 when Night at the Museum took in $23.7 million in its third week.

The numbers, Jan. 2-4, 2000

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Marley & Me $24,050,000 3,505 $6,862 $106,510,000 -33.9 2 Fox
2 Bedtime Stories $20,317,000 3,684 $5,515 $85,351,000 -26.0 2 Buena Vista
3 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $18,400,000 2,988 $6,158 $79,011,000 -31.5 2 Paramount
4 Valkyrie $14,042,000 2,778 $5,055 $60,692,000 -33.2 2 MGM
5 Yes Man $13,850,000 3,434 $4,033 $79,413,000 -16.9 3 Warner Bros.
6 Seven Pounds $10,000,000 2,758 $3,626 $60,038,000 -24.3 3 Sony
7 The Tale of Despereaux $7,020,000 3,091 $2,271 $43,742,000 -21.4 3 Universal
8 Doubt $5,031,000 1,287 $3,909 $18,730,000 -5.8 4 Miramax
9 The Day the Earth Stood Still $4,850,000 2,337 $2,075 $74,299,000 -37.0 4 Fox
10 Slumdog Millionaire $4,770,000 612 $7,794 $28,779,000 10.9 8 Fox Searchlight