Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: American Gangster Crushes Competition at #1

Denzel, Crowe, and Scott take over the multiplexes.

by | November 4, 2007 | Comments

The North American box office exploded thanks to the scorching debuts of the
Denzel
Washington
Russell
Crowe
crime drama
American Gangster

and Jerry
Seinfeld
‘s animated comedy
Bee Movie
which
combined for over $85M in ticket sales. Following weeks of sluggish business
where the marketplace failed to match 2006 levels, this weekend’s box office
enjoyed a healthy bounce over last year and kicked off the holiday movie season
with a bang.

Washington and Crowe both scored new career highs with the estimated $46.3M
opening weekend for the crime saga
American Gangster

which dominated the multiplexes. Universal opened the R-rated tale in 3,054
theaters and generated a scorching $15,175 average per location. Directed by
Ridley Scott,
Gangster tells the true story of a drug kingpin who built up a heroin empire in
Harlem in the early 1970s. The opening easily beat out the former all-time
biggest debuts for the Oscar-winning actors: Washington’s
Inside Man
with
$29M and Crowe’s Gladiator with $34.8M.


American Gangster enjoyed the second highest launch of the year for an
R-rated film trailing only 300‘s
$70.9M. Much of the success came from strong sales from young males and the
urban audience which saw it as a
Scarface
for
today’s generation. The same audience also helped to power
Eminem‘s R-rated
hip hop drama 8 Mile
to a surprising number one opening of $51.2M in November of 2002. Brian Grazer
produced both Mile and Gangster. Reviews were mostly favorable and
early Academy Award buzz could help the film in the weeks ahead. Despite the
long running time of nearly two hours and forty minutes, moviegoers lined up and
found their showtimes.


Paramount and DreamWorks settled for a second place debut for their latest
animated film Bee
Movie
which grossed an estimated $39.1M in its opening weekend. The
PG-rated toon averaged a sturdy $9,954 from 3,928 locations and performed just a
bit below the levels of recent November animated titles. Last year, the penguin
pic Happy Feet
bowed to $41.5M while the previous year’s
Chicken Little

launched with $40M. The two went on to gross $198M and $135.4M, respectively,
from the North American market. Co-written by and starring Jerry Seinfeld, Bee
Movie enjoyed virtually no competition in the current marketplace for family
audiences. Critics were not too kind, but ticket buyers showed interest on the
opening weekend. For 2007, the toon posted the fourth biggest debut for an
animated film after
Shrek the Third

($121.6M), The
Simpsons Movie
($74M) and
Ratatouille

($47M).


Suffering the largest sophomore drop in franchise history,
Saw IV
tumbled 65%
from its top spot bow and grossed an estimated $11M. The Lionsgate title has
still banked an impressive $51.1M in ten days and should finish with nearly
$70M.


Buena Vista’s
Dan in Real Life

fared much better in its second weekend dropping a slim 31% to an estimated
$8.1M. With $23M in ten days, the romantic comedy might find its way to around
$50M despite playing in less than 2,000 theaters.


Sony’s vampire thriller

30 Days of Night

declined by 42% and took in an estimated $4M lifting the total to $34.2M. Buena
Vista’s
The Game Plan

followed in sixth with an estimated $3.9M, off only 37%, for a cume to date of
$82M.


Neglected and landing in seventh place was the new
John Cusack
drama Martian
Child
which opened with an estimated $3.7M. Playing in 2,020
locations, the PG-rated story of a man that adopts a boy who says he’s from Mars
averaged a pitiful $1,807 for New Line. Child was the seventh wide release in
the past six weeks to debut with an average of less than $2,000.


Three adult-skewing fall pics followed.
George Clooney‘s
legal thriller
Michael Clayton
collected an estimated $2.9M, down 41%, for a sum of
$33.2M for Warner Bros. Lionsgate’s
Why
Did I Get Married?
got hit hard by Denzel’s arrival tumbling 52 to
an estimated $2.7M. Cume is $51.2M. The Miramax mystery Gone
Baby Gone
captured an estimated $2.4M, off 37%, for a $14.9M total.


Warner Independent saw a solid platform bow for its documentary
Darfur Now

which saw an estimated $24,000 in ticket sales from only three theaters.
Averaging $8,000 per venue, the Don Cheadle-narrated film will expand on Friday
to more cities.



Three October titles fell sharply and left the top ten this weekend. Disney’s
latest re-release of

Thee

Nightmare Before Christmas
saw its post-Halloween sales slump 55% to
an estimated $1.5M for a cume of $12.8M. A $15M final seems likely. The
Joaquin
Phoenix
/Mark
Wahlberg
drama
We Own the Night

fell 59% to an estimated $1.4M. The Sony release has taken in $27.7M and could
make it to $30M. The spoof comedy
The Comebacks

grossed an estimated $1.5M, down 56%, and has collected a disappointing $11.9M
for Fox. Look for a $13M final.


The top ten films grossed an estimated $124.1M which was up 14% from last
year when Borat debuted
in first place with $26.5M; and up 8% from 2005 when Chicken Little
opened in the top spot with $40M.

Author: Gitesh Pandaya,
www.boxofficeguru.com