Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Nicholson and Freeman Team Up For #1 Hit

Dungeon Seige fever fails to sweep the nation.

by | January 13, 2008 | Comments

Senior citizen superstars grabbed control of the North American box office as
the end-of-life tale The Bucket List
starring Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman
opened nationally after a limited run and took over the number one spot. Ice Cube
delivered very solid results for his new comedy First Sunday
which debuted close behind in second place giving the marketplace some new blood
after a three-week stretch when mostly the same titles held the top positions on
the charts. Overall, moviegoers spent over $100M on the top ten films and kept
the box office going strong.

Director Rob Reiner
scored his first number one opener in over fifteen years with The Bucket List
which debuted to a healthy estimate of $19.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday period
to lead all films. The PG-13 pic expanded nationwide into 2,911 theaters after
two weeks of exclusive runs in only 16 sites and averaged a sturdy $6,712 per
location this weekend. The story of two dying men who set out to fulfill their
final wishes received mixed reviews from critics but was welcomed with open arms
by the paying public. It was the director’s first trip to the box office throne
since 1992’s A Few Good
Men
which also starred Nicholson.

The Bucket List was one of four films that Warner Bros. placed in the
top ten. The studio’s four-pack accounted for 38% of all tickets sold for the
top ten movies. Add in the cash from its limited run and Bucket has
collected $21M thus far. In today’s youth-skewing marketplace, it is rare to see
a film anchored by two 70-year-old men hit the top of the box office.

Ice Cube
proved once again how reliable of a draw he is with comedy with his latest
venture First Sunday
which opened a close second with an estimated $19M while playing in 700 fewer
theaters than Bucket. The PG-13 pic about a pair of petty criminals who plot to
rob a neighborhood church broke into 2,213 theaters and averaged a potent
$8,586. It was the best average of any film in wide release. If estimates hold,
Sunday will give Cube the third best opening weekend of his career after the
pair of Barbershop
hits which bowed to $20.6M for the first installment in 2002 and $24.2M for
the
2004 sequel
.

First Sunday looks to be another moneymaker for the rapper-turned-actor
as well as for Sony’s Screen Gems unit. The $20M production skewed to a 54%
female audience while 63% was between the ages of 18 and 39, according to studio
research. With late-night talk shows back in production, stars Cube and Tracy Morgan
were among the first actors to go back out and promote their films using those
valuable marketing vehicles.

Fox Searchlight expanded its hit comedy Juno
again adding 523 locations and slipped a spot to third place with an
estimated $14M. That represented a drop in gross of only 12% from last weekend
and a 31% decline in the per-theater average to $5,719. The cume to date has
reached $71.3M and on Monday the ensemble hit will surpass the $71.5M of
Sideways
to become
the top grossing film ever for Searchlight. Juno now looks on course to reach at
least $110M domestically making it a highly profitable picture considering its
production budget of less than $10M.

The holiday season’s awesome threesome followed. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
claimed the number four spot in its fourth weekend with an estimated $11.5M.
Down 43%, the Buena Vista adventure sequel boosted its cume to $187.3M and
stands as Nicolas Cage‘s
top-grossing movie ever.



Fox’s kidpic Alvin and the Chipmunks
collected an estimated $9.1M, off 42%, for a $187.7M tally to date. Close behind
was Will Smith
who saw his sci-fi smash I Am Legend
drop 48% to an estimated $8.1M for a stellar cume of $240.2M for Warner Bros.
Together, the trio has grossed a jaw-dropping $615M and counting just from North
America over the last month.

The supernatural thriller One Missed Call
dropped down to seventh losing 51% from last weekend for an estimated $6.1M in
ticket sales. Warner Bros. has scared up a respectable $20.6M in ten days and
should be headed for a finish of roughly $35M. The studio’s romantic drama
P.S. I Love You

continued to score with women not interested in the NFL playoffs and slipped
only 36% to an estimated $5M. Cume to date is a solid $47M.




Universal opened the new animated film The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything
to the tune of $4.4M, according to estimates. The G-rated adventure from The
VeggieTales
franchise averaged a decent $3,305 from 1,337 theaters. The
debut was weaker than the $6.2M and $6,597 average of Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
which bowed in October 2002. Rival kidpic Alvin and the Chipmunks grossed
twice as much as Pirates this weekend despite being in its fifth weekend
of release.

Two big awards contenders from the Universal family were in a dead heat for
tenth place with estimates that were virtually identical. The
Keira
Knightley
period romance
Atonement
took
in an estimated $4.3M, off 15%, for a $25.2M cume to date. Focus continued to
expand the film going from 583 to 950 playdates. Oscar winners Tom Hanks
and Julia
Roberts
saw their latest film
Charlie Wilson’s
War
 fall 47% to an estimated $4.27M pushing Universal’s total
to $59.5M. War is the second lowest grossing film for Hanks over the past
ten years ahead of only
The Ladykillers

which swiped $39.7M in 2004.


Opening poorly outside of the top ten was the adventure tale In the Name of the King
starring Jason Statham
which bowed to just $3.3M, according to estimates. Attacking 1,631 sites, the
videogame-inspired pic averaged a weak $2,002 and failed to attract sizable
interest from its young male target audience. Freestyle Releasing handled the
distribution for the PG-13 film.

Two films fell out of the top ten this weekend. The
Johnny Depp
musical revenge tale

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
dropped 39% to an
estimated $3.4M boosting its sum to $44.1M. The $50M DreamWorks/Warner Bros.
co-production should end its domestic run with $50-55M. Sony’s fantasy adventure The Water
Horse
fell 47% to an estimated $3.3M for a $35.2M total. Look for a
$40-45M finish.


The Daniel
Day-Lewis
oil baron saga
There Will Be
Blood
remained a muscular contender in limited release. The
Paramount Vantage/Miramax co-production grossed an estimated $1.9M from 129
sites for a powerful $15,039 average in its third weekend. The acclaimed drama
widened from 51 theaters and will roll out to 375-400 locations this Friday in
its first major test in wider national play. Total is $4.4M.



The top ten films grossed an estimated $101.1M which was up a sturdy 12% from
last year when
Stomp the Yard
opened at number one with $21.8M; and up 9% from 2006
when Glory Road
debuted in the top spot with $13.6M. Both of those years were helped by the
Martin Luther King holiday which this year falls a week later on the calendar.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com