SUNDAY AM: Halloween is always a lousy day for box office but especially when it falls on a weekend. So Friday’s grosses were way down compared to the norm. So Disney’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year was shockingly down 90% from its sensational opening a week ago to make $1.7 million Friday from 3,626 plays. (“Why is it high school kids who are always the victims on Halloween?” one rival studio bigwig emailed me.) But then Zac Efron and the gang staged a spectacular comeback (+400%) to grab No. 1 with $8.2 million Saturday for a $15M weekend (including Sunday’s estimate of $5.1 million) for a new cume of $61.8M. Overseas, HSM3 was the #1 film in 26 territories including the U.S. and Canada for an estimated gross its second week of $146.8M at the worldwide boxoffice.
Making $10.6M this weekend was Kevin Smith’s Weinstein Co comedy Zack And Miri Make A Porno starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. The raunchy comedy opened in 2,735 venues with just $2.2 million Friday and $4.8 million Saturday (+124%) and a Sunday estimate of $3.6 million for No. 2. Because of the pic’s provocative name and content, the same chain of Utah theaters that wouldn’t show Brokeback Mountain also refused to screen Zack And Miri, so Smith enjoyed lots of free publicity. It’s been tracking decently with males under and over age 25 — not exactly a shocker. It was Smith’s second best launch, but he still can’t generate big box office numbers of late especially since this film was costlier than his usual.
Twisted Picture/Lionsgate’s horrific holdover Saw V was the only movie not to scare off audiences on Halloween and sliced through the competition for No. 3 this weekend. Playing in 3,084 theaters, it took in $3.1 million Friday (a staggering drop of 78% over its debut a week ago) and $4.2 million Saturday and $2.7 million Sundy estimate for a $10.1M weekend and new cume of $45.8M.
After a limited run, Universal’s Oscar-touted Changeling directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie missed opening wider in the top spot and settled for No. 4 with a $9.4M weekend and new $10M cume. After expanding into 1,850 theaters, the adult drama took in $2.3 million Friday and $4.4 million Saturday for a $9.4M weekend, bigger than what the studio expected. Fresh exit polling from this weekend showed the audience was 32%/68% under 30 yrs of age/30 yrs and older, and 39%/61% male/female. Both “excellent” ratings and “definitely” recommend scores were well above average overall. The main reasons given for choosing to see Changeling were the story (65%), followed by Angelina Jolie (53%), director Clint Eastwood (43%), and its true story (42%). During its limited run a week ago, the exit polling showed that the grim but compelling pic nevetheless had strong commercial potential across a wide breadth of audiences. Which is why the studio thinks the film has legs, using Clint’s 2003 Mystic River as a comp; it took in $10.4 million from 1,467 theaters after a limited run and went on to do $90M.
UPDATED: *But this weekend’s big news was overseas: MGM/Sony’s Quantum Of Solace, the 22nd James Bond motion picture, had record-setting launches in the UK, France and Sweden this weekend. Total FSS take was $38.6 million on 2,123 prints, generating more than $18,000 per print. The pic expands into 57 additional markets next weekend. But Bond made box office history on its opening day in the UK, taking a staggering £4.9 million and making it the biggest Friday opening of all time. This shattered the previous record held by Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire, which took £4.0m. The latest 007 installment, which claims to be the longest running franchise in film history (if you don’t count Godzilla or Tarzan), also beat the opening day figure of £2.9m for Casino Royale, the first to star Daniel Craig. Quantum Of Solace did £15.4 million for its UK weekend launch and the biggest standard 3-day opening of all time there, passing Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire‘s £14.934 million. This is 35% bigger than the £11.4 million launch of Casino Royale and a massive 70% of the UK box office this weekend. France’s weekend estimate of €8.2 million beat Casino Royale‘s 5-day €7.0 by 16% for the biggest Bond launch ever there, and in just 3 days. MGM/Sony expect Quantum to have three great days ahead in France, with the All Saint’s holiday school break running through November 5th. And Sweden’s 18.1 million SEK 3-day weekend is that country’s 4th biggest FSS ever, behind only Lord of the Rings 3 (20.4), and 31% more than Casino Royale‘s 13.821 million SEK launch. The 22nd Bond will release in the U.S. on November 14th and its first choice tracking was almost double what it was for Daniel Craig’s debut as Bond in Casino Royale. But this is 007 without the established Bond cliches and stereotypes. Reviewers said the current Bond movie looked more like Bond-as-Bourne since it dropped Moneypenny, dropped Q, dropped the wit, dropped the gadgets, and dropped the line “The name is Bond, James Bond”.*
Finishing in 5th place, The Haunting Of Molly Hartley from Freestyle Releasing took advantage of the spooky holiday for a $1.7 million opening Friday and $2.3 million Saturday from 2,652 venues for just a $5.2M weekend.
As for the rest of the Top 10: No. 6 Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) made $4.7M for a new cume of $84M; No. 7 The Secret Life Of Bees (Fox Searchlight) earned $4M for a new $25.2M cume; No. 8 Max Payne (20th Century Fox) took in $3.7M for a new $35.5M cume; No. 9 Eagle Eye (DreamWorks/Paramount) gained $3.4M for a new $92.5M cume; and No. 10 Pride And Glory (Warner Bros) received $3.2M for a new $11.6M cume.
In the 11th spot, QED International/Lionsgate’s $30M biopic W. took in $2.4M for a new $22.4M cume. Joel Silver’s Dark Castle-produced, Warner Bros-distributed RockNRolla made $1.7 million for the weekend as the Guy Ritchie-written and directed low-budgeter expanded into 826 theaters for a $2.3M cume.
This was the first “down” weekend after 5 “up” weekends in a row. Last year, when Halloween had the decency to fall on a Wednesday, total weekend box office was $133.9M. This weekend’s $85M was down 36.5%.