Box Office Guru Wrapup: Ninja Turtles Unseat Spartans For #1 Spot

by | March 26, 2007 | Comments

A crowded box office saw six new films shove their way into the multiplexes this weekend, but it was the Warner Bros. animated film "TMNT" that led the way knocking the studio’s own historical battle film "300" from the number one spot.

Mark Wahlberg‘s new sniper pic "Shooter" enjoyed a decent opening in third place while the rest of the debuting films saw more modest results. Overall, the box office was vibrant with seven different pictures hitting double digit millions.

Turtle power conquered North America as "TMNT" ruled the weekend with an opening of $25.5M, according to estimates. The PG-rated toon averaged a powerful $8,183 from 3,110 theaters and collected an amount that was almost identical to the record $25.4M debut of the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from March 1990. However, ticket prices were much lower 17 years ago and films played in fewer theaters so that hit’s $12,661 average from 2,006 locations was more impressive. With few new choices for kids in recent weeks, "TMNT" was able to corner the market for young ones. However, long term success could be challenging as Disney will unleash its rival animated entry "Meet the Robinsons" this Friday.

After two weeks on top of the charts, the Spartan war epic "300" dropped to second place but still held up well despite the onslaught of new films. The Warner Bros. blockbuster fell by only 38% to an estimated $20.5M and lifted its cume to a staggering $162.4M after 17 days. The R-rated smash now looks likely to reach the $200M mark domestically — a level no March film has ever reached before.

Overseas, "300" dominated the marketplace with its invasion of the U.K. and several key European countries with a colossal $48M from 33 markets with 5,000 prints. That pushed the international total to $79M and the global gross to $241M. 300 should dominate the spring box office worldwide and could go on to surpass $500M.

Mark Wahlberg‘s new action thriller "Shooter" opened in third place with an estimated $14.5M from 2,806 locations. The Paramount release averaged a good $5,168 per theater and played to an adult aduience. Studio research showed that two-thirds of the crowd for the R-rated film was age 25 or older. "Shooter" finds the recent Oscar nominee playing a former marine wrongly accused of trying to kill the U.S. President. The budget was just over $60M.

With no new comedies opening among the half-dozen new releases, Buena Vista’s motorcycle laugher "Wild Hogs" held strong once again and slipped only 25% to an estimated $14.4M. The Tim AllenJohn Travolta pic has upped its cume to $123.8M to date making it 2007’s second biggest blockbuster trailing only the Spartan tale. "Hogs" is also the top-grossing release for Disney since Johnny Depp‘s pirate smash from last summer.

Three films claimed estimates near the $10M mark and could see their rankings get shuffled when final numbers are reported on Monday. New Line opened its kids adventure "The Last Mimzy" with an estimated $10.2M from 3,017 theaters for a mild $3,381 average. The sci-fi tale earned mixed reviews and faced stiff competition for children from "TMNT."

After enjoying a career-high opening, Sandra Bullock saw her critically-panned suspense thriller "Premonition" fall by a reasonable 43% in its second weekend to an estimated $10.1M. Sony has scared up a solid $32.2M in ten days for the $20M production and should conclude with $55-60M.

Fox Atomic, the studio’s division that targets teens and young adults, bowed its horror sequel "The Hills Have Eyes II" to the tune of $10M, according to estimates. Averaging a mediocre $4,087 from 2,447 locations, the R-rated zombie flick opened 54 weeks after its predecessor which itself was a remake. The first "Hills" performed better and opened to $15.7M and a $5,996 average last March on its way to $41.8M. Eyes 2 cost $15M to produce and played mostly to an under-25 audience. Males and females were almost equally represented.

The Adam Sandler drama "Reign Over Me" debuted in eighth place with an estimated $8M from 1,671 sites for a commendable $4,788 average per theater. The R-rated film about a man who loses his way in life after his family is killed on September 11 earned good marks from critics. Given the difference in subject matter, "Reign" played primarily to adult women and not to the young male crowd that the funnyman usually attracts with his comedies. Studio research showed that 59% of the audience was female and 60% was 25 or older. The $20M production co-stars Don Cheadle and Jada Pinkett Smith and opened a bit below Sandler’s mature pic "Spanglish" which bowed to only $8.8M in 2004.

Lionsgate’s swim team drama "Pride" tanked in its opening weekend diving into just $4M, according to estimates. Starring Cheadle’s "Crash" co-star Terrence Howard, the PG-rated film averaged a weak $2,655 from 1,518 locations and earned mixed reviews from critics. Rounding out the top ten was the killer doll flick "Dead Silence" with an estimated $3.5M in its second weekend. Off a steep 55%, the Universal release has grossed $13.3M in ten days and should finish with just under $20M.

With all the new faces, six films tumbled out of the top ten over the weekend with declines of more than 50% each. Chris Rock‘s latest film "I Think I Love My Wife" fell 51% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.8M for a ten-day cume of only $10M. A final gross of about $15M seems likely. Disney’s fantasy drama "Bridge to Terabithia" dropped 55% to an estimated $2.3M in its sixth frame. With a strong $78.9M in the bank, Bridge looks to end its run with $82-84M.

Sony’s "Ghost Rider" took in an estimated $1.7M, down 59%, for a $113.2M cume. The Nicolas Cage actioner should finish with roughly $116M. Paramount’s serial killer drama "Zodiac" has been one of the year’s big underperformers and crumbled 63% to an estimated $1.2M. The $65M film has collected only $31.7M thus far and looks to end with a disappointing $34M.

The Eddie Murphy hit "Norbit" has performed much better for Paramount and grossed an estimated $1M this weekend, off 63%, pushing the total to $94.1M. A $96M final is likely. Hugh Grant‘s latest comedy has made half as much. "Music and Lyrics," co-starring Drew Barrymore, fell 60% to an estimated $920,000 pushing the total to $49.2M. Look for a $51M final.

Fox Searchlight once again generated the best per-theater average in the Top 20 with Mira Nair‘s "The Namesake" which expanded from 41 to 117 theaters and grossed an estimated $1.4M. Averaging a sturdy $11,581 per site, the PG-13 pic upped its total to $2.7M and will add another 125 theaters this Friday.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $120.6M which was up 27% from last year when "Inside Man" opened at number one with $29M; and up 39% from 2005 when "Guess Who" debuted on top with $20.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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