Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Marley Still #1 and Races Past $100M

Top 10 stays virtually the same for second week.

by | January 4, 2009 | Comments

Moviegoers caught up on those holiday films they didn’t see over Christmas
weekend as the top seven films finished in the exact same slots as last weekend
with the dog drama Marley & Me
leading the pack once again and smashing through the $100M mark too. Most
holdovers in the top ten saw drops of 20-35% as Friday’s semi-holiday gave
ticket buyers some extra time off. Plus with no new films entering wide release
attention remained on the assortment of star-driven films already in the
multiplexes. Despite 2008 seeing a 4% decline in admissions, 2009 got off to a
solid start at the North American box office with the gross for the Top 20
climbing 8% above last year’s tally which more than makes up for higher ticket
prices.

Audiences lined up for Fox’s hit family drama Marley & Me
spending an estimated $24.1M on the world’s worst dog in its second weekend of
release. Down 34%, the Owen Wilson-Jennifer Aniston pic boosted its 11-day total
to a robust $106.5M and is now on course to become the twelfth release of 2008
to surpass the $150M mark. 2007 had 13 films break that barrier. At its current
pace, Marley may finish its run with about $160M which would allow it to surpass
the $154.5M of Horton Hears a Who to rank as Fox’s number one film released last
year.

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Adam Sandler positioned himself in second place again with his family comedy Bedtime Stories
which grossed an estimated $20.3M. Down 26% from its opening, the PG-rated film
has collected a sturdy $85.4M in 11 days and looks headed for the neighborhood
of $130M for Disney.

Paramount’s Brad Pitt saga The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
held steady in third place dropping 32% to an estimated $18.4M in its second
weekend. The decline was more like what a regular commercial film should see
during this type of frame and not what a buzzworthy awards contender should
post. Still, the not-so-easy-to-sell drama has banked an impressive $79M in only
11 days and should have no problem hitting the $130M mark. If it can score a
Best Picture nomination for the Oscars, then the cume will soar much higher and
allow Pitt to challenge ex-wife Aniston for bragging rights to the Christmas
season’s top-grossing hit.

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Tom Cruise’s war thriller Valkyrie
held up reasonably well in its second attack grossing an estimated $14M, down
33%. The MGM release has now taken in $60.7M in its first 11 days which is more
than what most in the industry thought a month ago it would gross in its entire
run. The assassination flick could reach $90M by the time it leaves domestic
theaters.

Jim Carrey’s popular comedy Yes Man
dipped only 17% to an estimated $13.9M giving Warner Bros. $79.4M to date. Look
for a $100-110M final. Fellow superstar Will Smith followed with Seven Pounds
which grabbed an estimated $10M, off 24%, bringing the cume to $60M. Sony should
end its run in the vicinity of $80M.

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The Tale of Despereaux,
the top ten’s only animated film, dropped 21% to an estimated $7M for Universal
which should find its way to $55-60M. Easing only 6% was the Meryl Streep pic Doubt
with an estimated $5M boosting the total to $18.7M still early in its run for
Miramax.

Suffering the largest drop in the top ten was Fox’s sci-fi remake The Day the Earth Stood Still
with an estimated $4.9M, down 37%, for a $74.3M sum. The Keanu Reeves flick may
finish off with $80M. Fox Searchlight’s award-winning Slumdog Millionaire
jumped back into the top ten with an estimated $4.8M which lifted the total to
$28.8M. Among films in the top ten, the Danny Boyle film posted the strongest
average with $7,794 from 612 sites and was the only title to not suffer a sales
drop. It climbed 11% from last weekend despite no increase in theaters.

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Two November hits catering to younger audiences hovered just outside the top ten
with scant declines this weekend. The high school vampire drama Twilight
dipped only 5% to an estimated $4.5M to boost Summit’s cume to a remarkable
$176.8M. On Monday, the teen love story will surpass the $176.9M of
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
to become the seventh biggest blockbuster of
2008 and it will become the highest-grossing hit since
The Dark Knight
.
Disney’s 3D toon Bolt slipped just 3% to an estimated $3.3M and raised its tally
to $109.9M.

Four notable films in limited release generated averages of more than $20,000
each showing great strength in a crowded market. Paramount Vantage launched its
World War II pic
Defiance
in
just two theaters on Wednesday and grossed an estimated $121,000 over three days
for a scorching $60,500 average. The five-day sum is $198,000 and the
distributor will expand the Daniel Craig pic nationally on January 16.

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Clint Eastwood continued to pull in packed crowds for Gran Torino
which did amazingly well in its fourth weekend grossing an estimated $2.8M from
just 84 locations for a potent $33,571 average. Warner Bros. has been rolling
the film out in a pattern similar to that of the 78-year-old star’s Million
Dollar Baby
from four years ago. In its fourth weekend, that film grossed
$1.9M from 109 theaters for a powerful $17,619 average during the January 7-9
frame. The studio waited until the final weekend of January to go nationwide so
it could follow the announcement of Oscar nominations. Baby ended up
beating early frontrunner The Aviator at the Academy Awards for Best
Picture and Best Director. Torino will go wide earlier, though, and will
expand to over 2,600 theaters this Friday, January 9.

Aviator star Leonardo DiCaprio enjoyed a solid expansion for his latest,
Revolutionary Road

co-starring Kate Winslet. The Sam Mendes-directed film went from three to 38
sites and grossed an estimated $979,000 for a $25,763 average for Vantage.
Averaging a similar $24,000 was Searchlight’s The Wrestler
with an estimated $432,000 from only 18 houses. Totals stand at $1.4M and $1.8M
with much more to come for each.

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The top ten films grossed an estimated $122.3M which was up 9% from last year
when

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
stayed in the top spot for a third
time with $20.1M; and up a remarkable 28% from 2006 when
Night at the
Museum
remained at number one for a third weekend with $23.7M.