Box Office Guru Wrapup: Moviegoers So Into You

Coraline does decent business.

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The new romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You featuring an all-star cast including Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck was the top choice with North American moviegoers. Last weekend's top entry, the kidnapping thriller Taken, showed incredible strength in its second frame taking second place thanks to a very low decline. The new 3D animated pic Coraline debuted with strength in third while The Pink Panther 2 followed in fourth with an uneventful bow. The actioner Push earned respectable numbers in its launch putting it in the number six slot. Overall, the box office was once again on fire as the Top 20 films grossed nearly $146M surging an amazing 41% above year-ago levels.

The New Line comedy He's Just Not That Into You scored big points with the date crowd grossing an estimated $27.5M in its opening weekend. Released by Warner Bros., the PG-13 film based on the popular self-help book averaged a stellar $8,650 from 3,175 locations. It was the third best wide opening of 2009 after Paul Blart: Mall Cop's $31.8M and Gran Torino's $29.5M. For New Line, You is yet another box office winner following its collapse into its parent company last year. Sex and the City, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Four Christmases all came from the former mini-major and each crossed $100M domestically. Warners made sure in its marketing reach to not just target women, but to promote to men and couples as well. The broad appeal helped to raise the grosses, as did the star power and with Valentine's Day still coming up the film should collect healthy business in the first two weeks.

Liam Neeson's kidnapping thriller Taken may have dropped to second place this weekend, but the Fox hit held up exceptionally well dipping only 18% to an estimated $20.3M. That was a remarkable performance for an action film and now gives the PG-13 pic a shot at reaching $100M. Taken has taken in $53.4M in its first ten days, but will face direct competition this Friday when Sony's bank thriller The International debuts.

The 3D stop-motion animated film Coraline opened impressively in third place with an estimated $16.3M. Focus averaged a solid $7,105 from 2,299 theaters and proved once again how moviegoers are rushing out to theaters and paying those higher ticket prices to see films in three dimensions. With helmer Henry Selick not being a household name, the PG-rated Coraline instead was promoted as being from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas which over the last decade and a half has become a modern classic spawning recent 3D re-releases around Halloween time. With the Presidents' Day holiday next weekend and many schools taking winter breaks in February, the Dakota Fanning-voiced pic should be able to enjoy a healthy run in the weeks ahead. This weekend, a whopping 60% of the total gross came from Real D's 3D screens.
Families weren't exactly cheering the arrival of a new Inspector Clouseau film. The Pink Panther 2 debuted in fourth place with an estimated $12M falling 41% short of the $20.2M first place bow of its 2006 predecessor which also launched in early February. Sony's comedy sequel stumbled into 3,243 locations and averaged a mild $3,700 per site. This new installment reunited Steve Martin, Jean Reno, and Emily Mortimer while adding new cast members Andy Garcia, John Cleese, Alfred Molina, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The previous Panther went on to gross an impressive $80.2M in North America and $159M worldwide prompting the development of a sequel. Reviews were harsh.

Kevin James enjoyed another great weekend as Paul Blart: Mall Cop grossed an estimated $11M in its fourth frame declining just 21%. That gives Sony a sensational $97M to date. The sci-fi thriller Push posted a moderate opening landing in sixth place with an estimated $10.2M. Summit's first release since the blockbuster Twilight averaged a decent $4,410 from 2,313 sites.
Slumdog Millionaire became the second biggest grosser in Fox Searchlight history this weekend thanks to its estimated $7.4M take. Down a scant 3%, the Oscar contender upped its cume to $77.4M surpassing the $71.5M of Sideways and now only trails Juno's $143.5M on the distributor's all-time list of hits. Clint Eastwood followed closely with Gran Torino which collected an estimated $7.2M, down 12%, for a stellar $120.3M cume to date.

Falling 38% in its sophomore frame, the teen fright flick The Uninvited grossed an estimated $6.4M giving Paramount $18.4M in ten days. A $30-35M final seems likely. The studio's kidpic Hotel for Dogs dropped 33% to an estimated $5.8M and followed in tenth. Total stands at $55.2M.
Four of the five Oscar nominees for Best Picture tried to reach film aficionados outside of the top ten, although their combined weekend grosses failed to match Slumdog's. Paramount's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took in an estimated $2.4M, off 32%, and lifted its tally to $120M. Dropping a mere 3% to an estimated $2.3M was Kate Winslet's The Reader which has banked $16.1M thus far for The Weinstein Co. Focus watched its pic Milk take in an estimated $1.1M, off 26%, for a $25.3M sum. Frost/Nixon fell 46% to an estimated $753,000 giving Universal $15.6M to date.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $124.2M which was up 49% from last year when Fool's Gold opened in the top spot with $21.6M; and up 43% from 2007 when Norbit debuted at number one with $34.2M.

Written by Gitesh Pandaya, Box Office Guru