Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Vampire Flick Scares Up #1 Debut

30 Days of Night drains the competition.

by | October 21, 2007 | Comments

Bloodthirty vampires flew high, depressing dramas sank, and many holdovers
held up well at the North American box office. The new horror flick
30 Days of Night

easily ruled the charts while a handful of adult dramas were met with opening
weekend sales that ranged from mild to embarrassing. Oscar-winning actresses
Reese
Witherspoon
and
Halle Berry
both failed miserably with their new serious stories which were both shunned by
ticket buyers. With so many fall offerings eating into each others’ business,
the overall marketplace remained sluggish as for the fifth consecutive weekend
the top ten slumped below year-ago levels.

Sony commanded the top spot with its R-rated gorefest
30 Days of Night

which opened with an estimated $16M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Attacking
2,855 theaters, the vampires-in-Alaska pic averaged a solid $5,604 and tapped
into a pre-Halloween box office that offered no major scary movies. The lack of
competition helped the $30M
Josh Hartnett
starrer which brought out older teens, young adults, and genre fans. Days
was based on a popular graphic novel and earned mixed reviews which is above
average by horror picture standards.



Tyler Perry
followed up his muscular top spot debut for his latest comedy
Why
Did I Get Married?
with a strong second weekend hold dropping only
43% to an estimated $12.1M. After just ten days in theaters, the Lionsgate
release has already collected a sturdy $38.9M which is just ahead of the $38.1M
that Perry’s first film
Diary of a
Mad Black Woman
took in during its first ten days in 2005. Married
suffered a smaller drop than his other films witnessed indicating that the
filmmaker’s latest entry could be reaching beyond its core African American
audience. Diary fell 50% in its sophomore session while

Madea’s Family Reunion
and
Daddy’s Little
Girls
tumbled by about 57% each. Married looks on course to reach
a remarkable $65-70M which would be a new career high for Perry



Posting the smallest decline in the top ten once again was
The Rock‘s hit family
comedy The Game
Plan
which ranked third in its fourth weekend with an estimated
$8.1M. That represented a slim drop of only 26% and boosted Disney’s cume to
$69.2M. The durable sensation ranks as the actor’s second biggest hit in a lead
role after The Scorpion King which took in $90.5M in 2002.
Game Plan should
easily surpass that mark and has not yet seen a drop of more than 35%.


Also holding up very well was
George Clooney‘s legal thriller
Michael Clayton
which remained in fourth place with an estimated $7.1M. The Warner Bros. title
dropped by only 32% and boosted its total gross to $22M matching its production
budget. The marketplace was crowded with adult dramas targeting Clayton‘s
audience so the strong hold was an impressive performance. Powerful reviews and
good word-of-mouth contributed to the success. A final tally of $40-50M may
result.



Two new films fought fiercely over the number five spot. Miramax estimated that
its kidnapping thriller
Gone Baby Gone
would collect $6M over the weekend from
1,713 theaters for a mild $3,503 average. The directorial debut of
Ben Affleck
stars his brother

Casey Affleck
along with
Morgan Freeman and
Ed Harris and was
greeted with stellar reviews from film critics. Produced for $19M, Gone faced
tough competition from other adult dramas but could have legs in the weeks
ahead.



Aiming for teens and young adults with a dose of immature spoof comedy was
The
Comebacks
which grossed an estimated $5.9M for Fox. The PG-13 sports film
enjoyed a much wider release in 2,812 venues and generated a dull $2,080
average. The debut was nowhere near the numbers that the studio has seen in the
recent past with its other spoof comedies. Both
Epic Movie
from earlier this
year and Date Movie from 2006 debuted to about $19M. Comebacks will be lucky to
reach that amount overall.



Despite the weekend estimates reported by Miramax and Fox, three studios
estimated that Comebacks edged out Gone Baby Gone by a slim margin over the
weekend. Miramax’s estimate factored in a 26% Saturday-to-Sunday decline while
Fox’s figure includes a more reasonable 38% drop. All other films in the top ten
projected Sunday declines of 34% to 51%. Final box office grosses to be reported
on Monday will tell which film truly earns the fifth-place spot. The position is
valuable to studios for the publicity since many news outlets only report on the
top five films each weekend and ignore anything below them.



Falling hardest among holdover titles was the
Joaquin
Phoenix
/Mark
Wahlberg

crime thriller
We Own the Night

which dropped by 49% to an estimated $5.5M in its second weekend. The Sony
release has banked $19.8M in ten days and looks headed for a mediocre finish of
$30-33M.



Generating the hottest average in the top ten was the latest re-release of Tim
Burton’s creepy animated hit
The Nightmare Before Christmas
which debuted to an
estimated $5.1M from only 564 theaters for a potent $9,122 average. The special
3D version was given a wider launch by Disney compared to this weekend a year
ago when it opened in 168 theaters for a $3.3M weekend and sizzling $19,506
average. That re-release bagged $8.7M while its original 1993 run brought in
$50M. With no other good options for parents other than the studio’s own The
Game Plan
, Nightmare proved to be an exciting pre-Halloween option for families.
The PG-rated film will only play for a limited three-week engagement and goes
back into the Mouse House’s vault soon after the pumpkin holiday.



Moviegoers ignored the terrorism drama
Rendition
despite its acclaimed cast
allowing it to barely debut in the top ten. The New Line release opened to an
estimated $4.2M from 2,250 locations for a horrible $1,856 average. It was Reese
Witherspoon’s first film since winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for
2005’s Walk the Line, but fans were not biting. Jake Gyllenhaal,
Meryl Streep,
and Alan Arkin also starred in the R-rated story of a woman in search of her
Egyptian-born husband who is captured by the CIA after being suspected of being
a terrorist. Rendition was the third film in recent weeks dealing with Middle
East issues and entered a marketplace flooded with serious adult dramas. Plus
lukewarm reviews helped to make this a non-priority among ticket buyers this
weekend.



Rounding out the top ten was the
Ben Stiller comedy
The
Heartbreak Kid
with an
estimated $3.9M, off 46%, for a $32.1M cume for Paramount.



Halle Berry joined fellow Oscar-winning actress Reese in striking out with
audiences with her new adult drama. The former Storm headlined the Paramount
release
Things We Lost in the Fire
with
Benicio Del Toro and attracted a measly
$1.6M in business on opening weekend, according to estimates. Debuting in 1,142
locations, the R-rated film about a woman who befriends her dead husband’s
heroin-addicted pal averaged a pathetic $1,405. Reviews were generally favorable
and studio research indicated that two-thirds of the audience consisted of women
over 30. Fire cost a relatively low $16M to produce, but has a long road ahead
of it in order to reach profitability.



Two additional films risked going nationwide and met with embarrassing results.
The teen thriller
Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
bowed to an estimated
$560,000 from 1,115 theaters for a disastrous $502 average for Freestyle
Releasing. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain Pictures unleashed its animated pic
The Ten
Commandments
in 830 sites and was met with only $480,000, according to
estimates, for a horrible $578 average. Both films should find their primary
audiences on DVD.

Focus saw a soft bow for its downbeat drama
Reservation Road
which debuted in
just fourteen theaters for a weak estimate of $36,821 for a poor average of
$2,630. The arthouse crowd was just not in the mood for this depressing drama
about the death of a young boy which starred Joaquin Phoenix,
Mark Ruffalo,
Jennifer Connelly, and
Mira Sorvino. Also hurting
Road‘s performance were
reviews that were far from glowing.



With all the new content in the multiplexes, five films were tossed out of the
top ten over the weekend. The costume drama sequel
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

dropped 49% in its sophomore session to an estimated $3.1M giving Universal a
weak $11.2M in ten days. Look for the
Cate Blanchett pic to end its domestic run
with a dismal $16-18M. Overseas prospects do look brighter though.



Sony’s durable musical extravaganza
Across the
Universe
dipped by 29% to an
estimated $2.7M for a solid $16.8M total from less than 1,000 theaters. A
$25-30M final could result. The Saudi Arabia-set political thriller
The Kingdom
fell by 48% in its fourth outing to an estimated $2.4M. Universal has taken in
$44M thus far and should end up with just under $50M which means that the $70M
production will need to still work hard overseas and on video in order to break
even.



The Milla Jovovich threequel

Resident Evil: Extinction
tumbled 60% to an
estimated $1.1M and raised its sum to a cool $50M. Fox’s fantasy adventure
The
Seeker: The Dark is Rising
saw its weekend gross nosedive by an alarming 81% to
an estimated $425,000 lifting the dull total to $8.2M with little left to go.



The top ten films grossed an estimated $73.9M which was down 10% from last year
when The Prestige debuted in first place with $14.8M; but up 13% from 2005 when
Doom opened in the top spot with $15.5M. Author: Gitesh Pandaya, www.boxofficeguru.com

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