This weekend what looked to be a close race between two major horror films ended up being no contest at all as moviegoers demanding a scare on the final full weekend before Halloween rallied behind the indie sensation Paranormal Activity which rose to number one in its fifth frame brutally punishing the opening for Saw VI which suffered the worst debut ever in the profitable franchise's history. Three other new releases ended up with small chunks of change outside of the top five while the overall marketplace slumped below last year's performance.
Three new releases hit the multiplexes while one indie sensation expands nationally hoping to strike gold and shake up the establishment. Leading the charge is the family film Where the Wild Things Are which gets the widest release by far and stands the best chance of capturing the number one spot. Also debuting is the horror film The Stepfather and the action drama Law Abiding Citizen. Meanwhile, the micro-budgeted thriller Paranormal Activity will capitalize on its enormous buzz by widening into all major markets on Friday making a serious play for the number two spot this weekend. Moviegoers poured into multiplexes to see a wide range of appealing films powering the box office to the biggest October weekend in history. Leading the way was the new adventure pic Where the Wild Things Are which bowed at number one followed by an exceptionally strong debut for the action entry Law Abiding Citizen in second. The most impressive performance came in third with the national expansion of the indie thriller Paranormal Activity which delivered the best average of any film. The four new wide releases kicked in a stunning $86M powering the Top 20 to $135M, a new record high for the month.
Couples ruled the box office as Universal's Couples Retreat took top honors at the box office this weekend. But the real story was the low-budget horror entry from Paramount, Paranormal Activity, which crashed the top five from only 159 theaters. Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell and the rest of the ensemble cast of Couples Retreat landed, as expected, in the number one spot at the North American box office this weekend. The tale of four couples going through intense comical therapy grossed an estimated $35.3M this weekend from 3,000 theaters for a per screen average of $11,780. If that number holds, it would be the sixth highest opening weekend for the month of October, just ahead of a quadrilogy of Saw films. Poor reviews didn't hurt the film as its well-known cast certainly provided enough star power to make it the top choice for audiences.
This weekend Sony ruled the North American box office with an unlikely pair of hit comedies that led the way over a crowded frame that saw five films, each offering its share of laughs, shove their way into wide release. The violent horror-comedy Zombieland enjoyed a strong debut in first place bumping the studio's animated 3D pic Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs into second after two weeks on top. But some other studios collected a bit of cash too. Disney's double feature Toy Story & Toy Story 2 (3D) drew impressive numbers in third while Warner Bros. saw lackluster results for its Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying in fourth.
Turning into the sleeper hit of the fall, Sony's blockbuster 3D toon Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs easily ruled the North American box office posting the second smallest sophomore decline of any number one opener this year. Moviegoers were once again unimpressed with the new films that Hollywood studios tried to push on them with the Bruce Willis sci-fi pic Surrogates leading the pack with a sluggish debut in second place. The dance remake Fame bowed in third to mild numbers while the umpteenth horror film in recent weeks Pandorum failed to scare up much business.
Sliding by an incredibly low 19%, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs showed remarkable strength in first place grossing an estimated $24.6M in its second weekend in theaters. Sensational word-of-mouth and a lack of competing family films or comedies helped the Sony release boost its ten-day tally to a solid $60M. The only number one opener in 2009 to enjoy a better second weekend hold was Liam Neeson's Taken which slipped by a mere 17% in early February. The revenge thriller banked $53.6M in its first ten days before continuing its leggy run which extended to an astonishing $145M final.
Moviegoers chose 3D fun over Hollywood stars as the animated comedy Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs powered ahead of expectations to debut at number one grossing more than the three new live-action films combined. Matt Damon and Jennifer Aniston generated unimpressive numbers for their debuting films The Informant! and Love Happens, respectively, while Megan Fox failed to lure in ticket buyers to her horror entry Jennifer's Body. Overall, the North American box office did see a healthy double-digit gain over last year.
This weekend Tyler Perry ruled the charts once again as fans flocked to North American multiplexes for his latest film I Can Do Bad All By Myself which gave the filmmaker his fifth number one hit of the last five years - the most for any director. Opening to solid results in second place was the animated sci-fi actioner 9. But after a string of violent R-rated films in recent weeks, audiences stayed away from two competing thrillers which foolishly opened on the same day - the college slasher pic Sorority Row and the Antarctica-set murder mystery Whiteout. Both flops debuted outside the top five with averages of under $2,000. Overall, the box office dipped from a year ago with the Top 20 sliding 7% from the same weekend in 2008.
While the summer movie season started with a bang with the sharp claws of a mutant super hero, it ended quietly over the four-day Labor Day holiday session with the 3D horror sequel The Final Destination topping the lowest-grossing weekend of 2009. None of the three new releases managed to unseat last weekend's box office winner and the Top 20 sunk to just $116M over four days and $91M over three days -- the worst such tally of the year.
With moviegoers not showing much excitement for the weekend's new releases, The Final Destination remained at number one by default grossing an estimated $15.4M in its second round over the four-day holiday session.
Another August weekend, another new R-rated movie overperforms at number one. This time it was the 3D fright flick The Final Destination which easily won the showdown between new horror sequels soaring ahead of expectations while Halloween II debuted in third grossing about what was expected from it. Holdovers and former chart-toppers Inglourious Basterds and District 9 both held up well making it that rare frame when violent R-rated films claimed the top four spots at the box office. The on-screen carnage drove ticket sales to an all-time high for the weekend before the Labor Day holiday session closing off an exceptionally powerful August box office.
This weekend Quentin, Brad, and Harvey lit up their stogies following the exceptional opening of their new World War II film Inglourious Basterds which topped the charts and exceeded all industry expectations to lead a robust late-summer session at the box office. The frame's three other new releases (Shorts, X-Games 3D: The Movie, and Post Grad, the highest of which grossed only $6.6 million) got the cold shoulder from moviegoers but the overall top ten surged ahead of last year and 2007 by more than 25%. Holdovers contributed too as no film in the top ten declined by more than 50%.
THIS WEEKEND Audiences went alien crazy as the sci-fi action drama District 9 rode a wave of strong buzz, slick marketing, and stellar reviews to debut easily at number one powering ahead of expectations. The counter-programming romance The Time Traveler's Wife fared well in its opening weekend while the frame's three other new releases struggled to find paying customers with the summer movie season slowly winding down. But the top ten saw encouraging double-digit gains over last year and 2007 as the marketplace continued to attract a sizable amount of business. Time will tell if this trend will continue and help the summer movie season to finish strong, with a handful of big releases yet to come.
Movie fans wanted mindless action and real American heroes and drove G.I. Joe to a huge number one opening grossing more than the next five films combined by targeting young males. Meryl Streep held her own against all the military hardware generating a strong second place showing for her turn as a celebrity chef in Julie & Julia which played well to adult women. Entertaining entirely different audiences, the two new releases joined forces to help the North American box office break a four-week losing streak as the marketplace beat out last year's numbers by a healthy margin.
Comedy heavyweights Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow claimed the number one spot with their new dramedy Funny People which debuted to only moderate results leading the entire top ten to slump to its lowest point of the summer. Two other new releases, the kidpic Aliens in the Attic and the horror film The Collector, both struggled to find ticket buyers helping the North American box office once again fall below year-ago levels for the fourth consecutive weekend.
Universal claimed the top spot with Funny People which debuted to an estimated $23.4M making for the lowest gross for a number one film all summer. Playing in 3,007 locations, the R-rated story of a Hollywood superstar facing death averaged a healthy $7,795 per theater. Reviews were mixed for the reported $75M production.
Audiences shifted their attention from teen wizards to talking guinea pigs as Disney's 3D action film G-Force pulled an upset at the North American box office knocking Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince out of the top spot in its second weekend. The Hogwarts flick fell sharply but still pulled in a solid gross and continued its sensational run around the world. Mature audiences came out in impressive numbers for the Katherine Heigl-Gerard Butler comedy The Ugly Truth which opened well in third place.
Families rushed to multiplexes to see adorable talking animals as G-Force powered its way to the top spot with an estimated $32.2M from an ultrawide release in 3,697 theaters.
Sacha Baron Cohen scored another number one hit with his latest shockfest comedy Brüno which opened atop the North American box office bumping two-time champ Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to third place. The hit toon Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs remained in second while the new teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper was rejected and debuted in seventh. Overall ticket sales slipped from a year earlier.
Fans hit the multiplexes and drove Brüno to the top spot with an estimated $30.4M in tickets sold this weekend. Playing in 2,756 theaters, the fewest for a number one pic this summer, the R-rated film about the Austrian fashionista's quest for fame averaged a strong $11,040 per location. However, the daily breakdown signaled trouble ahead. Brüno banked an impressive $14.4M on its opening day on Friday, but collapsed by 39% on Saturday to $8.8M. Sequels and films with built-in audiences routinely suffer Friday-to-Saturday drops on opening weekend, but the Universal release plunged by an unusually hefty amount.
The Independence Day holiday frame saw a rare tie for first place as Paramount and Fox both reported a $42.5M estimate for the Friday-to-Sunday span for their summer sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, respectively. Final grosses to be reported on Monday will determine the true box office champ. Universal's gangster drama Public Enemies opened in third with strong results as studios provided many different moviegoing options which ticket buyers were excited to see.
The robots of Transformers dropped a steep 61% in the second weekend giving Paramount an eye-popping $293.5M total after just 12 days. That puts Michael Bay's tentpole pic at number 30 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list tied with 1999's The Sixth Sense. Ticket prices, of course, were much lower a decade ago when Haley Joel Osment was seeing dead people. Fallen also leaped past Pixar's Up to become this year's largest grosser and will top the $300M mark on Monday or Tuesday.
This weekend Robots ruled the box office as the highly-anticipated action sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen generated the second biggest opening in history with a gargantuan $201.2M in its first five days, according to studio estimates, sending the overall marketplace to its highest gross of the year. The eye-popping figure included $112M over the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period plus an additional $89.2M since its Wednesday launch. Playing ultrawide in 4,234 theaters including 169 IMAX screens, the Paramount release averaged a stunning $26,453 over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a gigantic $47,531 over five days. The only other film to ever gross more in its first five days was last summer's The Dark Knight which hauled in a slightly better $203.8M from 4,366 venues. The first Transformers bowed to $155.4M in 6.5 days and needed 12.5 days to break the double-century mark on its way to a $319.2M finish.
Sandra Bullock showed North America who's boss with her return to romantic comedy in The Proposal which gave the actress the biggest opening of her career and her first number one hit in over a decade. Rival comedy Year One enjoyed a respectable debut in fourth place while holdover sensations The Hangover and Up continued their amazing runs with small declines once again. Thanks to four funny films topping $20M a piece, the overall marketplace inched ahead of last year's levels for the first time in four weeks putting the industry in a good position with Megan Fox and the Autobots on the horizon. Moviegoers gave a very loud yes to Bullock this weekend as The Proposal powered ahead of expectations to open to an estimated $34.1M to easily lead the box office race. The bow nearly doubled the $17.6M of her 2007 thriller Premonition to set a new record for the actress who since the mid 1990s has routinely opened films in the $13-17M range. It was also the largest opening for any romantic comedy this year beating the $27.8M of February's He's Just Not That Into You which boasted more starpower with Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, and Drew Barrymore. Proposal averaged a scorching $11,163 from 3,056 locations.
Much like McG's endless grey landscapes, it was a cold, bleak dawn at the Australian box-office this weekend for Terminator Salvation, as the sequel collapsed against the debut of Todd Phillips' dude-com, The Hangover. The Vegas-set romp mirrored its recent US success by opening with an estimated $3.4 million in takings, while Salvation dipped 64 per cent. The $11 million cume for the Terminator sequel is still decent, demonstrating the fact that, contrary to US figures, the film is performing robustly in international markets. Then again, Angels and Demons has made more money than Star Trek here -- so what do local audiences know?
Moviegoers could not get enough of Mike Tyson's tiger as the raunchy Vegas-set comedy The Hangover spent a second weekend at number one, dropping a remarkably low amount, and is on course to become the top-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. Also holding up well was the toon titan Up which remained in second place with a small decline of its own as it attempts to become Pixar's biggest blockbuster ever. Among new releases, Denzel Washington's hostage thriller The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 landed in third place with a respectable bow while Eddie Murphy's family comedy Imagine That was dead on arrival with one of the worst openings of the year.