Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Spartans March Past Rambo to #1

America has chosen wisely.

by | January 27, 2008 | Comments

Moviegoers chose an army of spoof comedians over an aging one-man killing
machine as Meet the Spartans
outgunned Sylvester Stallone‘s Rambo
to claim the number one spot in a close race at the North American box office.
Both new releases walked away with solid performances and should become
moneymakers. Ticket buyers also flocked to see the Academy Award nominees for
Best Picture with four of the five contenders posting sales increases. Many box
office milestones were also reached as Juno
surpassed $100M, Alvin and the Chipmunks
and National Treasure: Book of Secrets
both cracked the $200M mark, and I Am Legend
vaulted past the $250M barrier. Overall, the box office remained healthy and
showed incredible depth as for the first time ever in the month of January,
seven different movies topped $10M in weekend grosses.

Teens and young adults wanted laughs and they got them from Fox’s latest spoof
comedy Meet the Spartans
which won a slim victory with an estimated $18.7M in its opening weekend. The
PG-13 pic averaged a muscular $7,188 from 2,605 sites and debuted on par with
the studio’s other early-year spoof hits Epic Movie
which bowed on top to $18.6M a year ago this week and Date Movie
which enjoyed a second-place launch in February 2006 with $19.1M. All three
films came from Hollywood’s current spoof kings
Aaron Seltzer.

Spartans used the same formula of sending up recent blockbuster hits and
pop culture favorites and young people showed up showing no signs of getting
sick of the genre. The $18M production featured no A-list stars and instead
relied on recognizable faces like muscle man
Kevin Sorbo,
hip hop star
Method Man,
spoof queen
Carmen Electra
, and Borat‘s
Ken Davitian.
Date and Epic reached $48.5M and $39.7M respectively so Fox looks
to have another profitable venture on its hands.


Sylvester Stallone
lost out on bragging rights at the box office this weekend, but his new action
flick Rambo
still performed well opening to an estimated $18.2M. Produced by Lionsgate and
The Weinstein Company, the R-rated shoot-em-up vehicle averaged an impressive
$6,598 per location. It was the first adventure for the character in nearly two
decades following long after 1988’s Rambo III. The first three films helped to
define the action genre in the 1980s grossing a combined $610M worldwide. As
expected, Rambo skewed heavily male with 67% of the audience being men,
according to studio research. The age breakdown was evenly split between those
over and under the age of 25. Although Rambo settled for the runnerup
spot domestically, it should become a much bigger hit overseas than Spartans.

Katherine Heigl‘s
romantic comedy 27 Dresses
held up well in its second weekend grossing an estimated $13.6M for a moderate
drop of 41%. Fox has collected an impressive $45.3M in the first ten days and
could be headed for a $80M finish. Dresses cost $30M to produce.


Not as lucky in its sophomore frame was last weekend’s top film Cloverfield
which tumbled 68% to an estimated $12.7M taking fourth place. The $25M
sci-fi actioner has grossed a solid $64.3M in ten days and should end its run
with roughly $85M for Paramount.

Diane Lane‘s
new crime thriller Untraceable
enjoyed a respectable opening in fifth place with an estimated $11.2M from 2,368
theaters for a solid $4,730 average. The R-rated pic about an internet killer
played to young adults with 59% of the audience falling within the 18-34 age
range, according to studio research. Sony’s latest release was budgeted in the
$30M range and played evenly to men and women with females making up 51%.


Fox Searchlight’s hit comedy Juno
became the company’s first ever $100M blockbuster over the weekend as its four
Academy Award nominations helped to keep the quirky film strong. The pregnancy
pic lost 108 theaters but saw its gross inch up 4% to an estimated $10.3M
boosting the cume to $100.2M. Oscar buzz has given this year’s top-grossing Best
Picture nominee renewed interest in the marketplace. Produced for less than
$10M, Juno should now find its way to more than $125M domestically.

The Jack Nicholson
and Morgan Freeman
flick The Bucket List
continued to show strong legs and slipped just 28% to an estimated $10.2M in its
third weekend of nationwide release. Cume is $57.7M.


Armed with eight Academy Award nominations, Paramount Vantage expanded its
oilman saga
There Will Be
by more than doubling its run and jumped up to the number
eight spot with an estimated $4.9M. The Daniel
starrer averaged a solid $5,522 from 885 locations after widening
from 389 sites last week. Cume is now $14.8M. The specialty distributor is using
a strategy similar to the one employed by Warner Bros. three years ago for
Million Dollar
by slowly building buzz in late December and January before expanding
nationally on the weekend after the Oscar nominations are announced. The wait
allows a hard-to-sell pic to gather enough kudos to validate it before making a
big push with the paying public. Blood will expand again on Friday
reaching 1,350 to 1,500 total sites and hopes to keep the black gold coming in
week after week.

Rounding out the top ten were National Treasure: Book of Secrets
with an estimated $4.7M, off 38%, and Mad Money
with an estimated $4.6M, down 40%. Disney’s adventure sequel lifted its total to
$205.4M while the heist comedy from Overture hit $15.3M after ten days. Money
should finish off with about $25M.

Debuting quietly outside of the top ten was the stepdancing drama How She Move
which bowed to an estimated $4.2M from 1,531 sites for a weak $2,716 average.
Paramount Vantage attracted an urban audience of young females for the PG-13
film which was acquired at last year’s Sundance Film Festival for $3M.


The concert film U23D,
which had its premiere at this year’s Sundance, rocked the box office opening in
only 61 theaters to the tune of $946,000, according to estimates, for a powerful
$15,508 average. Released by National Geographic, the G-rated Imax pic was shot
in Mexico City and Buenos Aires on the band’s lucrative Vertigo tour.

Four films including a pair of megablockbusters fell from the top ten this
weekend. Fox’s runaway smash Alvin and the Chipmunks
eased just 35% to an estimated $4.6M in its seventh frame and boosted its
amazing cume to $204.2M. The family comedy has performed well above expectations
over the holiday season and beyond and smashed through the $200M mark on Friday,
its 43rd day of release. Budgeted at under $70M, Alvin should conclude
its domestic run with $215-220M.


Fellow December 14th opener I Am Legend
hit a milestone of its own this weekend shattering the quarter-billion domestic
mark. Will Smith‘s
gargantuan hit grossed an estimated $2.2M, down 55%, for a total to date of
$251.7M. The sci-fi thriller surpassed 1997’s
Men in Black to
become the actor’s second highest grossing film ever trailing the $306.2M of
Independence Day
. MIB still sold more tickets since its $250.1M gross
a decade ago would amount to $370M+ at today’s prices. Look for Legend to
reach around $255M from North America and over $600M worldwide.

Another rapper-turned-actor, Ice Cube,
saw his latest entry First Sunday
tumble 58% to an estimated $3.3M in its third outing. The $20M Sony comedy has
made off with $34.5M in 17 days and should end up in the vicinity of $40M. Best
Picture nominee

added screens but slipped 14% to an estimated $4M for a $37.9M sum. It was the
only film up for Oscar’s top prize to see sales decline from last weekend. Focus
should, however, continue to see respectable numbers in the weeks ahead as the
title remains a contender.


Other Academy Award-nominated films in the Best Picture race expanded too and
captured a little more business. Miramax’s
No Country For
Old Men
, which won top honors on Saturday from the DGA for directors
Joel and
Ethan Coen,
grossed an estimated $2.5M from 1,107 locations for a $2,261 average in its 12th
frame. Warner Bros. put the George Clooney legal drama
Michael Clayton

back into wide release but collected just $2.1M, according to estimates, from
1,102 playdates for a mild $1,869 average in its 17th weekend. Totals now stand
at $52M and $41.5M, respectively. Major Oscar nods can lead to extra box office
revenue for films that did not reach their full potential the first time around,
however there are added marketing and distribution costs associated with these
expansions too.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $109M which was up a remarkable 33% from
last year when Epic Movie opened at number one with $18.6M; and up 17%
from 2006 when
Big Momma’s House 2
debuted in the top spot with $27.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

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