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Sunday, October 18, 2009

'Where the Wild Things Are' dazzles with $32.4m bow, Oct. 16-18, 2009

While Warner cruised easily to a No. 1 opening this weekend with their surprisingly dark kids film for adults Where the Wild Things Are, it was a 155% jump in ticket sales from the indie scare pic Paranormal Activity that might have raised even more eyebrows, as the film rocketed to $20.1 million in its sophomore frame thanks to the addition of 600 theaters. Overture Pictures' thriller Law Abiding Citizen finished strong in second with $21.2 million. Cumulatively, the top 20 releases combined for the biggest October weekend in history.

Thanks to an intriguing marketing campaign that seemed more intended for an adult audience, one of the most cherished children's books of all-time saw its film adaptation post the biggest October weekend in history with $32.4 million. Directed by Spike Jonze, the well-reviewed PG-rated pic took in an impressive $8,693 in 3,735 theaters, giving Warner the eighth biggest October bow ever.

Reviews, while mostly positive, all noted the dark nature of the film, and Friday to Saturday numbers show that the film might be having trouble attracting the family market. After a $12.1 million Friday bow, the film increased just 2% on Saturday, a shallow increase compared to other family-friendly fare. Budgeted at $75 million, Warner is hoping the film will be able to appeal to more than just the 20 to 30-something hipsters and into the broader market at large in the coming weeks.

Gerard Butler's revenge pic Law Abiding Citizen finished strong in second with $21.3 million, averaging a solid $7,353 in 2,890 theaters. The R-rated pic opened close to Liam Neeson's sleeper smash Taken, which debuted with $24.7 million on its way to $145 million total. Don't expect that kind of longevity from Citizen though, which was poorly received by critics and will have plenty of competition in the coming weeks.

Paramount expanded its sleeper horror hit Paranormal Activity by 600 theaters, and it helped push the film up 155% from its debut, finishing the weekend with $20.2 million. The R-rated scarefest averaged a whopping $26,530 per theater, showing signs that word of mouth has been extremely strong. Made on an incredible $11,000 budget, the films domestic cume now stands at $33.7 million, and still has the lucrative Halloween weekend ahead of it. Look for the film to flirt with $75 million domestic.

Last week's No. 1 fell three spots to No. 4, as Universal's poorly-reviewed comedy Couples Retreat slipped 48% to $17.9 million. In ten days the $70 million budgeted pic has grossed $63.3 million, and should barely surpass $100 million by the end of its run.

Sony Screen Gem's horror pic The Stepfather debuted with $12.3 million in fifth place, averaging $4,499 in 2,734 theaters. Budgeted at just $19 million, the PG-13 release should have no problem breaking even domestic.

Sony's animated comedy Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs finished just behind with $8.1 million, breaking the $100 million mark in its 28th day of release. The $100m budgeted film has now amassed $108.3 million, and could hit $135 million by the end of its run.

Sony also took the next spot with its horror-comedy Zombieland, which fell 47% to $7.8 million. The $24m budgeted pic has grossed $60.8 million to date.

Extended its limited run to a third week after a successful two-week stint, Disney-Pixar's 3D double feature Toy Story & Toy Story 2 took in another $3 million, bringing its 17 day cume to an amazing $28.6 million.

Thanks to solid holdovers and a strong opening from Where the Wild Things Are, the top ten films grossed an estimated $126.9 million, up an impressive 59% from last year's comparable frame when Max Payne topped with $17.6 million.

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