SUNDAY AM: For most people, this week’s stock market fall and rise was enough of a thrill ride. So I thought North American moviegoers would crave fresh comedy by Friday. Nope. They wanted even more suspense, so they turned out for Sony’s PG-13 suspense film Lakeview Terrace [in 2,464 theaters] directed by Neil LaBute and starring Samuel L. Jackson. The No. 1 pic opened to so-so reviews but made $5.1 million Friday and $6.5 million (+27%) Saturday for a better-than-expected $15.6M debut weekend. Then again, LaBute has a widening reputation for unusual psychological films. Sony claims Overbrook Entertainment (Will Smith and James Lassiter’s production company) brought in the movie for just $20M. Focus Features’ political spoof Burn After Reading [2,657], starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt, held on to more than half its audience from a week ago (-47%) for the 2nd spot. It took in $3.4 million Friday and $4.6 million Saturday to score a $11.2M weekend and new cume of $36.4M. But Lionsgate’s R-rated (for racy and rotten) My Best Friend’s Girl [2,604]really fell apart at the box office. It opened #3, but what was supposed to be a weekend total in the mid-teens collapsed to just $8.3M. I’m now waiting for Hollywood to realize that Dane Cook is not a movie star. (In fact, a weekly MovieTickets.com poll showed that 37% of its filmgoers thought Cook should stick to stand-up comedy, while 36% believed he should keep acting. I say send him back on that HBO bus tour.)
No. 4 was newcomer Igor [2,339], the Exodus Family Group toon. Distributor MGM had only expected a $6 million opening, not the $8 million it earned. But there also hasn’t been much new at the cineplex for the kids in a while. Despite playing in only 2,070 theaters, Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys almost tied for #5 with Overture’s Righteous Kill which had 3,152 more dates: they earned $7.5 million to $7.7 million weekends and close cumes of $28.3M and $28.8M respectively. (I wonder how Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino feel about Tyler Perry’ scoring the better per screen average.)
So let’s now talk about The Women, that low-budget Picturehouse chick flick which would have come and gone if Warner Bros hadn’t heard my plea to give it a wider release and target older females. It’s hard for me to be objective, but after last weekend’s $10M bow although critics mugged it, an insider told me Warner Bros was “very pleased with the solid opening against very strong competition” especially considering the pic’s negative cost was only $16.5M. As a studio source echoed, “Glad we made the right call…” This weekend, The Women [2,995] came in No. 7 with a $5.3 million weekend and the second-best hold. It’s new cume is $19.2M.
In 8th place, the Spyglass/DreamWorks/Paramount death-obsessed romantic comedy Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais and directed by David Koepp was playing in only 1,505 theaters so its $5.1 million opening is mitigated. I don’t agree with rival studios describing it as DOA despite good reviews. But a DW insider says the $20M film could make it up internationally. Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight [1,905] finished the weekend #9 with $2.9M and a fat new cume of $521.9M. And Sony’s The House Bunny [2,675] just keeps going, and going, eking out another $2.8M weekend and new cume of $45.7M.
Overall, it was a slow weekend box office, ending with $93 million total, down -4.19% from $97 million last year.