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

30 Days of Night drains the competition.

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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.

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