Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Zac Beats Zack for #1 Spot

Amateur musical theater performers defeat amateur pornographers.

by | November 2, 2008 | Comments

Despite being clobbered by Halloween on Friday, Disney’s smash hit kidpic High School Musical 3 once again led the North American box office in its second weekend winning the frame by a comfortable margin. The squeaky clean teens were followed by a trio of R-rated films that fought fiercely over the runnerup spot. Final grosses to be reported on Monday could lead to a change in the standings, but based on official studio estimates Kevin Smith’s raunchy new comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno debuted in second, the horror sequel Saw V slipped a notch to third, and Clint Eastwood’s missing child drama Changeling starring Angelina Jolie expanded nationally and placed fourth with the best average in the top ten. With the Pumpkin holiday keeping folks away from multiplexes on Friday and the lack of any breakout new releases, overall ticket sales took a nosedive with the top ten pulling in just over $70M falling 39% from last weekend and dropping 41% from a year ago.

Moviegoers couldn’t stay away from the singing and dancing students of High School Musical 3 making the franchise flick the top movie in the land with an estimated $15M over the weekend. Down a steep 64%, the Zac Efron pic pushed its stellar ten-day total to $61.8M. Disney has now ruled the box office over four of the last five weekends thanks to its one-two punch of G-rated family films HSM3 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua which still remained in the top ten this weekend.

Theatrical business was on a rollercoaster ride this weekend thanks to Halloween falling on a Friday this year. Since Musical‘s audience of young children and parents are the ones most affected by trick-or-treating, the film got hammered on Friday tumbling an eye-popping 90% from its opening day to just $1.7M. With those holiday activities out of the way, sales surged over 380% on Saturday to $8.2M and the studio is projecting Sunday to fall by 37% to an estimated $5.1M. Compared to last weekend, the Saturday and Sunday takes depreciated by roughly 46% each, a reasonably good performance for a frontloaded sequel in its sophomore session.

With Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa launching on Friday, competition for kids will get tough. Still, HSM3 may find its way to $90-100M domestically. Overseas, the Wildcats pulled in another $25.9M boosting the international tally to $85M and the worldwide cume to a stunning $146.8M. With a production budget of just $13M, it’s only a matter of time before the Mouse House puts a fourth installment into production, regardless of cast or story.

Three distributors battled over second place this weekend and the final results may come down to how accurate their projected Saturday-to-Sunday declines end up being. Based on official estimates released by the companies, those drops for the moment stand at 25% for Zack and Miri Make a Porno from The Weinstein Co., 34% for Lionsgate’s Saw V, and a more understandable 40% for Universal’s Changeling.

Kevin Smith’s Zack opened with an estimated $10.7M from 2,735 theaters for a decent $3,906 average. The Seth Rogen-Elizabeth Banks comedy about best friends that make a dirty movie together to earn some quick cash ended up performing much like Smith’s other R-rated comedies released wide. Clerks II bowed to $10.1M and a $4,680 average in 2006 while 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back debuted to $11M and a $3,985 average. The casting of Rogen failed to pump the numbers up to those seen by the actor’s many films for Judd Apatow which often flirt with the $30M mark. Reviews for Zack were generally positive.

The torture extravaganza Saw V got hacked by 66% in its second weekend and grossed an estimated $10.1M. The Lionsgate release has now banked a solid $45.8M in ten days. The weekend drop was skewed by the Halloween effect on Friday as Saturday declined by 58% from the previous weekend while Sunday is estimated to fall by 54%. The aging franchise is still showing signs of erosion as the cume is the lowest ten-day start for the series since the first Saw did $35.4M in 2004. Ten-day cumes for the other chapters include $60.1M for Saw II, $59.4M for Saw III, and $50.4M for Saw IV. Halloween fell within that period for all five films. Look for Saw V to finish in the neighborhood of $55M which should still make it a profitable piece of intellectual property.

Universal expanded its Angelina Jolie vehicle Changeling from 15 to 1,850 theaters and grossed an estimated $9.4M. That amounted to a solid $5,085 average, the best among all wide releases. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the true story of a woman in search of her missing boy in the 1920s attracted mixed reviews which may have dampened sales with the target audience of older adults. Total including last week’s limited run is now $10.1M. The performance was somewhat similar to the expansion for the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s Mystic River from October 2003 which also went national in its second weekend with $10.4M from 1,467 sites. That film earned better reviews and a stronger $7,120 average which at today’s ticket prices would amount to roughly $8,300. Changeling‘s numbers also resembled those of Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers which debuted to $10.2M and a $5,461 average just two years ago in October 2006. Though not generating huge numbers, the former Dirty Harry is dependable when he hits the multiplexes with a new drama. He next pops up on screen this December in Gran Torino which he also directed.

Freestyle Releasing was the most aggressive distributor with Saturday-to-Sunday declines this weekend projecting a slim 13% dip for its horror title The Haunting of Molly Hartley resulting in a reported three-day estimate of $6M. The PG-13 fright flick about a teenage girl hunted by the devil opened with a mild $2,262 average from 2,652 locations. Final grosses to be reported on Monday should see a smaller gross, however its fifth place standing is secure.

The fall season’s second biggest hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua followed in sixth with an estimated $4.7M, off only 31%, for a cume of $84.1M for Disney. Collecting an estimated $4M, down just 34% in its third session, was The Secret Life of Bees which has upped its sum to $25.3M for Fox Searchlight.

Fox’s action drama Max Payne fell 53% to an estimated $3.7M pushing the total to $35.6M. Paramount and DreamWorks held up well once again with Eagle Eye, the fall’s top-grossing flick, with an estimated $3.4M, down 33%, for a $92.5M cume. The $100M mark is well within reach for Mr. LaBeouf. The Edward Norton-Colin Farrell cop saga Pride and Glory dropped 48% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $3.3M. After ten days, the total for the Warner Bros.-New Line Cinema pic is a disappointing $11.6M.

Guy Ritchie’s crime thriller RocknRolla failed to draw much of a crowd in its first weekend of wide release. Expanding from 19 to 826 playdates, the R-rated pic grossed an estimated $1.8M for a weak $2,119 average. Cume is a mere $2.4M for the Gerard Butler starrer.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $70.3M which was down 41% from last year when American Gangster opened in the top spot with $43.6M; and off 35% from 2006 when Borat debuted at number one with $26.5M.

While the North American box office took a big hit this weekend, overseas action was ignited by what could be the top-grossing global blockbuster for the rest of 2008 – the new James Bond adventure Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig’s second turn as 007 opened to a colossal $24.8M in the United Kingdom breaking the record for that market’s largest three-day opening weekend edging out Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Quantum‘s launch was 35% bigger than Casino Royale‘s from two years ago indicating how firmly engaged audiences are now to Craig in the iconic role in this post-Pierce era. France opened to a stellar $10.5M while Sweden bowed to $2.3M, both bigger than the last Bond.

Quantum of Solace makes its big global premiere this coming weekend when it invades 57 additional markets for what undoubtedly will be a massive worldwide assault. North America was originally scheduled to be part of that debut. But when Warner Bros. moved Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from November to next July, Sony pushed the domestic launch of Bond back by a week to November 14 to move it closer to the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday. All 007 installments since the 1990s were released a week before the Turkey holiday with one exception – Tomorrow Never Dies which opened day and date against Titanic on December 19, 1997.