Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Audiences Still Hungry For Meatballs

Surrogates and Fame round out the top three.

by | September 27, 2009 | Comments

Turning into the sleeper hit of the fall, Sony’s blockbuster 3D toon
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
easily ruled the North American box office posting the second smallest sophomore decline of any number one opener this year. Moviegoers were once again unimpressed with the new films that Hollywood studios tried to push on them with the Bruce Willis sci-fi pic Surrogates leading the pack with a sluggish debut in second place. The dance remake Fame bowed in third to mild numbers while the umpteenth horror film in recent weeks Pandorum failed to scare up much business.

Sliding by an incredibly low 19%,
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
showed remarkable strength in first place grossing an estimated $24.6M in its second weekend in theaters. Sensational word-of-mouth and a lack of competing family films or comedies helped the Sony release boost its ten-day tally to a solid $60M. The only number one opener in 2009 to enjoy a better second weekend hold was Liam Neeson’s Taken which slipped by a mere 17% in early February. The revenge thriller banked $53.6M in its first ten days before continuing its leggy run which extended to an astonishing $145M final.

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Cloudy also delivered the best sophomore weekend gross ever for any September release. The road ahead still looks bright and sunny for the animated food flick. Disney will provide some competition this Friday with its double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D, but it’s still unclear how big of a turnout should be expected. The next major film aimed at kids doesn’t open until October 16 when Warner Bros. unleashes Where the Wild Things Are. A domestic cume of $150M or more could be possible for Meatballs making it Sony’s top-grossing title of the year.

Bruce Willis saw mediocre results for his new $80M-budgeted action film Surrogates which debuted in second place with an estimated $15M. Averaging $5,083 from 2,951 locations, the PG-13 film about FBI agents in the future hunting down a new type of killer played to an older male audience. Studio data from Buena Vista showed that 58% of the crowd was male and 54% was over 25 — not surprising for a Willis actioner. The not-so-impressive domestic bow puts more pressure on the overseas starpower of Willis to kick in and generate cash in the weeks ahead.

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The dance remake Fame didn’t win over too many fans opening in third with an estimated $10M for a mild 3,241 average from 3,096 theaters. The PG-rated update on the 1980 classic hit played primarily to young women as studio research showed that a whopping 78% of the audience was female and 55% was under 25. Fame marked the first release from MGM all year. The troubled studio last hit the multiplexes in December with the Tom Cruise pic Valkyrie which performed better than expected with $83.1M. The marketplace had few choices for young women, but Fame failed to generate enough excitement to come close to recent teen-skewing dance hits like Step Up and Stomp the Yard which both opened to more than $20M. Luckily with its low $18M production cost, the pic should fare well after factoring in foreign sales and home video revenue.

Matt Damon’s The Informant! held up well in its second weekend dipping only 34% to an estimated $6.9M and raised its cume to $21M in ten days. Look for a $40M final for the Warner Bros. release. Lionsgate followed with I Can Do Bad All By Myself which dropped 52% to an estimated $4.8M and $44.5M total.

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Overture’s Pandorum was the latest horror flick to be rejected by moviegoers. The R-rated space thriller bowed to just $4.4M according to estimates and averaged a dismal $1,759 from 2,506 locations. Distributors chose to program six scary movies into a 30-day period and are now finding out the hard way that this was a bad idea. Over the previous two weekends, the films Sorority Row, Whiteout, and Jennifer’s Body opened to less than $7M each with pitiful averages below $2,600.

The Jennifer Aniston pic Love Happens dropped a moderate 46% to an estimated $4.3M in its second date putting Universal’s sum at $14.7M after ten days. A $25M final could result for the $18M production. Saturday Night Live host Megan Fox suffered a 49% fall for Jennifer’s Body which grossed an estimated $3.5M in its second weekend for a ten-day tally of only $12.3M. Look for the $16M-budgeted fright flick to end with $18-20M.

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The sci-fi toon 9 grossed an estimated $2.8M, down 49%, for a $27.1M cume. Rounding out the top ten was Inglourious Basterds which slipped only 29% to an estimated $2.7M giving The Weinstein Co. $114.5M to date.

Touring the talk show circuit certainly helped Michael Moore accumulate lots of wealth as his newest documentary Capitalism: A Love Story debuted in limited release in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles but grossed a sensational estimate of $240,000 for a stunning $60,000 average per location. With multiple prints, the film is showing on a total of 11 screens in the four locations. The five-day cume since the Wednesday bow is $307,000. Capitalism more than doubled the $26,144 opening weekend average of Moore’s Oscar-winning doc Bowling for Columbine which platformed in eight locations in NY and LA in October 2002.

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The polarizing filmmaker’s last pic Sicko debuted in just one Manhattan location with $68,969 in its first weekend so Love Story‘s wider launch and nearly equal average shows that audiences are still drawn to Moore’s unique brand of infotainment. Capitalism takes a look at the current economic crisis and earned mostly positive reviews. Overture will expand the R-rated film nationally on Friday into 1,000 playdates.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $79.1M which was down 4% from last year when Eagle Eye opened in the top spot with $29.2M; but up 9% from 2007 when The Game Plan debuted at number one with $23M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru