where_the_wild_things_are_ver3SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Warner Bros didn’t know what to expect on such a unique project as Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are. Certainly not a $32.4M weekend performing strongly across the country. Or a Cinemascore of B+ where 55% of the audience was under age 25 and rated the film A-. Here was a famous director with an infamous imagination making a PG movie for adults out of Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book. As a result, the studio decided not to position Wild Things as a kids film. The marketing department brought it to Comicon, and then spent 70% of the media for it on broad based and adult driven buys. The P&A stressed Spike’s pedigree, but not the fact that Jones took forever in post-production on his CGI + puppetry adaptation. “He’s a perfectionist and just kept working on it,” a WB exec told me Friday night. “But now we know that at the end of the day he nailed it.” Thursday midnight shows went way over the expected $150K grosses and came close to $660K. By Friday noon in Manhattan, the expected $12K take turned into $100K. Grosses came in at $11.9M Friday and $13M Saturday from 3,735 locations (including 145 Imax theaters which made $3.1M F-S-S). lawabidingcitizen posterFriday’s revenues were unusually boosted by the “Spikers” as well as by adults attracted by the older focused marketing campaign. So Saturday grosses were only 10% higher than Friday’s, not the usual 60% higher of most matinee driven kiddie films.

At a surprise #2, Overture’s Law Abiding Citizen starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler did a better than expected with $7.5M Friday and $8.3M Saturday for a $21.2M weekend from 2,889 venues. Paramount’s pre Halloween hyped Paranormal Activity made $6.25M Friday and $7.6M Saturday from a wider release onto 760 screens for #3 and a $20.1M weekend and new $33.7M cume. Universal’s holdover comedy Couples Retreat sank to #4 with $6M Friday (-50%) and $8M Saturday for a $17.9M weekend from 3,009 plays for a $63.3M cume. That leaves Screen Gems/Sony’s low budget reboot Stepfather #5 on 2,734 dates to debut with only $4.3M Friday and $4.7M Saturday for a $12.3M weekend.

The rest are holdovers:

6. Cloudy/Meatballs (Sony) Week 5 [3,037] $8.1M Wkd, Cume $108.2M
7. Zombieland (Sony) Week 3 [3,171 theaters] $7.8M Wkd, Cume $60.8M
8. Toy Story 3-D (Disney) Week 3 [1,467] $900K Fri, $3 Wkd
9. Surrogates (Disney) Week 4 [2,326] $700K Fri, Est $2.3M Wkd
10. Invention Of Lying (WB) Week 3 [1,624] $675K Fri, Est $2.2M Wkd

It’s turning into a huge weekend: $130+M, or +35% from last year.