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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.


ecrunner said...

How is this movie, which is getting mainly bad other reviews, doing so well in the box office? Is it really that good? I hardly think so.

Stephen Wong said...

I know exactly how you feel. The movie was easily the worst reviewed of the weekend (not a big surprise), but there hasn't been a lot of true comedies in the marketplace right now, so the movie definitely fills a glut. Movies like this are critic-proof anyways.