SUNDAY AM: Expectedly, Jodie Foster’s star turn in The Brave One was good enough for the top spot of the U.S. box office. But it made only $13.5 mil from 2,755 theaters for what was a lower than expected weekend. (Projections had been $17M-$20M.) The good news is that Jodie remains one of the few Hollywood actresses still able to open a pic these days. The bad news? Only mixed reviews, an R-rating, and dark morality tale / revenge pic content did not produce the wider appeal of her PG-13 thriller Flightplan. Worse was the way The Brave One was promoted as a feminist chick flick by Warner Bros which still can’t market anything but blockbusters. Overall, this remains a very slow time at the box office, with Friday’s totals 3% behind last year.
In 2nd place is Lionsgate’s 3:10 To Yuma, which continues to underperform despite terrific reviews and talent like Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and director Jim Mangold. It dipped only 34% its 2nd weekend out and took in $9.2 mil from 2,667 runs for a new cume of $28.5 mil. New Line’s PG-13 horribly reviewed Mr. Woodcock managed #3, once again demonstrating that there’s no movie too stupid and too awful that American audiences won’t go to see. It debuted for $8.6 mil Friday through Sunday from 2,231 venues. Don’t let that placement fool you: this is the latest bomb for New Line. I’m told the pic had major reshoots and ended up costing around $45 million. Given the genre and cast, it won’t do anything in foreign so that’s a big writedown for the studio. (Also, I have to ask, why in the world is Oscarwinner Susan Sarandon in this crap?) Sony’s low cost coming of age comedy Superbad, even starting its 5th week in release, sits in 4th place; it earned $5.2 mil this weekend from 2,910 plays. It’s new cume is $111.3 mil. No. 5 went to The Weinstein Co / MGM’s horror hit Halloween which made $5.1 mil from 3,051 theaters with a new cume starting 3 weeks out of $51.4 mil.
Freestyle’s newcomer Dragon Wars squeezed into 6th with just $5.1 mil from 2,275 dates. Unbelievably, Universal’s blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum is in 7th place even starting its 7th week in release. After taking in $4.2 mil this weekend from 2,611 venues, its new cume is a hefty $216.2 mil. In 8th place, New Line’s hit Rush Hour 3 has a new cume of $133.1 mil after earning another $3.3 Fri-Sun from 2,208 dates. Focus Features extreme sports spoof Balls Of Fury was 9th, eking out $3.3 mil from 2,758 plays for a new cume of just $28.8 starting its 3rd week in release. And, finishing the Top 10, Universal’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday snuck in with $2.6 mil this weekend from 1,770 theaters. Meanwhile, New Line’s other flop, Shoot ‘Em Up, dropped 58% its 2nd weekend and out of the Top 10 altogether: its pathetic new cume is only $10.4 mil.
There’s a lot of attention on two promising newcomers that platformed this weekend. Focus Features’ well-received Eastern Promises starring Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen under the direction of David Cronenberg played in only 14 theaters from Friday through Sunday but had the best per screen average: between $11,000 and $14,500 each weekend night. That far exceeded the per screen average (between $4,329-$6,529) for Paul Haggis’ Oscar touted In The Valley Of Elah, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron, which Warner Independent played in 9 venues. Meanwhile, despite mixed reviews, Julie Taymor’s Across The Universe romantic musical told through Beatles songs (since Sony controls that catalogue) opened in 23 theaters with the weekend’s 2nd best per screen average ($8,739-$11,609). Much was made of the pre-release brawling between Taymor, producer Joe Roth of Revolution Studios, and distributor Sony over the length and content of the pic. (See my story: Across An Alternate Universe.)