This weekend Zac Efron scored his second number one opener in six months as his non-musical high school comedy 17 Again debuted powerfully in the top spot to lead the North American box office to another impressive year-over-year gain. Russell Crowe‘s murder thriller State of Play bowed in second place while Jason Statham‘s action sequel Crank High Voltage limped to a weak sixth place opening.
Efron proved that he could draw a sizable crowd of paying customers outside of his safe Disney zone with 17 Again which premiered with an estimated $24.1M winning this weekend’s box office race by a wide $10M margin. The PG-13 film about a thirtysomething dad who transforms back to a teenage kid averaged a very solid $7,393 from 3,255 locations. Teens and young adults turned out in strong numbers and the teen heartthrob’s large fan base certainly followed their superstar into new territory. Efron’s High School Musical 3 carried a G rating while the musical Hairspray in which he had a supporting role was rated PG. And with 17 Again not being based on a property with a built-in audience, it proved that Efron can certainly open a film on his own when starring in the right type of project. For Warner Bros., it was the studio’s industry-leading fifth number one opener of 2009. No other distributor has more than two this year.
Landing in second with a decent showing was the conspiracy thriller State of Play which took in an estimated $14.1M from 2,803 theaters. Averaging a commendable $5,030 per site, the PG-13 film stars Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, Robin Wright Penn, and Rachel McAdams. Reviews were solid for the Universal release which played to a mature crowd not being served by all the younger-skewing pics in the marketplace. According to studio research, State‘s audience was 55% female and 75% over 35.
Three hit holdovers followed with estimates between $12-13M. Final grosses to be reported on Monday could see chart positions change.
Paramount and DreamWorks claimed third place with the animated blockbuster Monsters vs. Aliens which became the top-grossing movie of 2009. The comic actioner grossed an estimated $12.9M falling 41% in its fourth frame to boost the cume to a stellar $162.7M. Monsters also surpassed the $154.5M of last spring’s Horton Hears a Who which was the top grosser during the first four months of 2008. Monsters vs. Aliens is now on course to become the third biggest non-Shrek toon in DreamWorks history after last summer’s Kung Fu Panda ($215.4M) and 2005’s Madagascar ($193.2M).
Disney’s Hannah Montana: The Movie was close behind with an estimated $12.7M representing a steep 61% crumble in the second weekend. A large fall was expected but the sophomore slide was a bit less than those for last year’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds and High School Musical 3 which were 67% and 64%, respectively. The new Hannah has banked an impressive $56.1M in ten days and could reach $80M by the end of its run.
Fast & Furious took in an estimated $12.3M, falling 55% in its third lap, and boosted its 17-day take to a strong $136.7M. Universal’s hit sequel ruled the international box office again grossing an estimated $36M this weekend from 59 territories including powerful top spot bows in Australia, Italy, and China. Total is now $145M offshore and $281.7M worldwide easily making it the highest-grossing installment of the series globally. The Furious franchise has now raced to a stunning $881M worldwide across four films.
Five Jason Statham action films in 15 months seemed to be too much for fans to handle as the actor’s latest effort Crank High Voltage stumbled with an estimated $6.5M debut putting it in sixth place. The R-rated Lionsgate sequel averaged a not-so-heartpumping $2,928 from 2,223 locations. The opening not only was weaker than the bow of 2006’s Crank ($10.5M, $4,158 average) but it also fell sharply from the debuts of Statham’s last two films Death Race ($12.6M, $4,985 average) and Transporter 3 ($12.1M, $4,594 average).
Suffering the worst drop of any film in the top ten was Seth Rogen’s latest comedy Observe and Report which tumbled 63% to an estimated $4.1M. Moviegoers could be getting too much of this star as well. The Warner Bros. release has collected $18.7M in ten days and should finish in the vicinity of $25M. The Nicolas Cage actioner Knowing followed with an estimated $3.5M, off 46%, pushing the total to $73.7M for Summit making it one of the top ten highest-grossing new releases of the year.
Two more hits rounded out the top ten. Paramount’s Paul Rudd comedy I Love You, Man dropped 46% to an estimated $3.4M putting the cume at $64.7M. The fright flick The Haunting in Connecticut grossed an estimated $3.2M, down 47%, and lifted its sum to $51.9M for Lionsgate.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $96.6M which was up 21% from last year when The Forbidden Kingdom opened in the top spot with $21.4M; and up 40% from 2007 when Disturbia stayed at number one with $13M.