SUNDAY AM: All those cool CGI effects were nearly sunk by cruel reviews and even worse winter weather in midwest and southeast parts of the United States yet Warner Bros’ 10,000 BC easily finished the weekend No. 1 with $35.7 million in box office gross. But as good as that haul is, it’s still not the great $40+ million which Hollywood first expected. Playing in a very wide 3,410 venues, the prehistoric extravaganza from extravagant Roland Emmerich opened to a $12.6 million Friday, $14 million Saturday, and an estimated $9.3 million Sunday thanks to an exciting TV ad campaign. 10000bc-2.gifBut its total was just half the studio’s similar-looking 300 opening of $71 mil for the same weekend last year. And 10,000 BC has a PG-13 rating which should have attracted a wider audience than 300’s R-rating. But the caveman movie’s early matinees were “good but not great” amid reports that theaters weren’t selling out. That caused box office gurus by Friday evening to lower their projections for weekend box office to low $30sM. As one marketing analyst explained to me, “The movie is no good at all. But there hasn’t been much in the marketplace for the last few weeks, and exhibition is desperate to keep it on screens.” The movie picked up more steam as the weekend wore on. Yet all expectations are for attendance to fall off steeply by next weekend because of bad watercooler talk. Moviegoers especially found the manicured look of the caveman and cavewoman absurdly out of place in the pic — even though Emmerich spent north of $150 mil (not including P&A, of course) to transport audiences back to the time when wooly mammoths and sabretooth tigers walked the earth. The film should make most of its money overseas because of the minimum of dialogue. (See my previous, Wkd Predictions: Big ‘10,000 BC’ Despite Brutal Reviews)

college-road.jpgExit polling showed that 65% of the audience for Walt Disney’s College Road Trip was made up of families. With a paucity of fresh family fare in the marketplace right now, little wonder the pic placed #2 with $3.5 million Friday, $6.4 million Saturday, and an estimated $4.1 million Sunday from 2,706 dates for what was a solid $14 million opening weekend. Not even rival studios bet against a Disney G-rated family pic with a running time of only 1 hour, 23 minutes. As expected, Saturday had big Saturday matinees since Raven-Symoné is a tween icon and consumer brand thanks to the Disney Channel. But Martin Lawrence in a Disney flick is still a street cred stretch.

Holdover Vantage Point, the popular thriller from Sony, dropped only 41% its 3rd weekend out, showing its continued playability in a market with a lot of new competition. bank-job.jpgThe drama added $7.5 mil to its $51.6 mil cume for 3rd place. But newcomer The Bank Job moved up a notch to No. 4 from No. 5 during its first weekend — and could have scored a higher ranking if only Lionsgate had opened it in more than just 1,603 venues. Seen as a very satisfying pic by audiences, it took in $1.7 mil Friday, $2.5 mil Saturday, and an estimated $1.6 mil Sunday for a $5.9 mil weekend. Even though the pic’s stick-up name implies kick-ass car chases and kickboxing, reliable British tough guy Jason Statham as a husband and father didn’t disappoint hardcore action audiences who may have balked at too much tender character development. Meanwhile, New Line’s flopping Semi-Pro will yield one of Will Ferrell’s worst box office results as the comedy fell to 5th with only $5.8 mil this weekend despite playing in a wide 3,121 theaters its 2nd weekend for a paltry $24.7 mil cume.

The rest of the Top 10 were holdovers. Here’s the chart (cume includes Sunday estimates):

  1. 1. 10,000 BC/Warner Bros $12.6M Fri, $14M Sat (cume $35.7M)
  2. 2. College Road Trip/Disney $3.5M Fri, $6.4M Sat ($14.0M)
  3. 3. Vantage Point/Sony $2.2M Fri, $3.4M Sat ($51.6M)
  4. 4. The Bank Job/Lionsgate $1.7M Fri, $2.5M Sat ($5.9M)
  5. 5. Semi-Pro/New Line $1.8M Fri, $2.4M Sat ($24.7M)
  6. 6. The Spiderwick Chronicles/Paramount $1.0M Fri, $2.2M Sat ($61.7M)
  7. 7. The Other Boleyn Girl/Sony $1.2M Fri, $1.6M Sat ($14.5M)
  8. 8. Jumper/Fox $1.1M Fri, $1.6M Sat ($72.5M)
  9. 9. Step Up 2/Disney $1.oM Fri, $1.3M Sat ($53.0M)
  10. 10. Fool’s Gold/Warner Bros $865K Fri, $1.3M Sat ($62.8M)