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Sunday, March 29, 2009

'Monsters vs. Aliens' topples box office with $58.2m, March 27-29, 2009

Thanks to a hefty marketing campaign and a little help from Uncle Sam, DreamWorks Animation's 3D animated pic Monsters vs. Aliens topped the box office with the biggest opening of 2009, pulling in $58.2 million over the weekend. Lionsgate's The Haunting in Connecticut debuted solidly in second with $23 million, helping the top ten films gross $135 million, up a whopping 58% from last year's comparable frame.

Nabbing the lucrative March release period usually reserved for Fox's animation studio Bluesky Studios (who instead moved their Ice Age 3 to the July 4th weekend), DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs. Aliens delighted audiences to the tune of $58.2 million in its debut, averaging a stout $14,181 in 4,104 theaters. Helping those gaudy per theater numbers were 1,550 3D equipped theaters charging an extra few dollars per ticket.

Budgeted at a hefty $165 million, the film featured a massive marketing campaign that tipped off with this year's Superbowl ad in 3D. Solid reviews and heavy rotation television ads ensured a strong $16.8 million Friday bow, but strong word of mouth and a lack of family competitors saw ticket sales surge 45% on Saturday to $24.4 million. The debut bested Warner's Watchmen, which opened at the beginning of March with $55.2 million. For a studio heavily dependent on sequel revenue, the computer-animated release was the second largest opening ever for a non-sequel pic, behind only Kung Fu Panda's $60.2 million bow last June. The debut was also the third biggest ever in March, behind only 2007's 300 ($70.9m) and 2006's Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68m).

Lionsgate's horror/thriller The Haunting in Connecticut surpassed industry estimates with a strong $23 million bow, averaging an impressive $8,422 from 2,732 theaters. It was the studio's biggest horror debut outside of the Saw franchise. Reviews for the PG-13 release were universally poor.

Last week's champ Knowing slipped just 40% in its sophomore frame to $14.7 million, bringing the Nic Cage pic's ten-day cume to $46.2 million. At its current pace the film should hit $75 million by the end of its run.

Paramount's comedy I Love You, Man slipped only 29% to $12.6 million, bringing its ten-day total to $37 million.

Universal's romantic comedy Duplicity fell 46% to $7.6 million, bringing its cume to $25.6 million. Starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, the film will have trouble reaching $50 million domestic.

Thanks to the monster debut of Monsters vs. Aliens, Disney's reboot Race to Witch Mountain took a 56% hit in sales to $5.6 million. In 17 days the Dwayne Johnson starrer has grossed $53.3 million.

Debuting in seventh was the weekend's only other wide release debut, the Fox actioner 12 Rounds. Starring wrestler John Cena, the PG-13 release earned just $5.3 million this weekend, below his own debut film The Marine with $7.1 million.

Thanks to Monsters' huge debut, the top ten films grossed an estimated $135.1 million, up a staggering 58% from last year's comparable frame.

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