SUNDAY AM: Miley Cyrus now joins Kevin James in doing what a lot of established stars like Julia Roberts, Kevin Costner and Eddie Murphy can’t these days: open a movie. And open she did on what Media By Numbers calculated was the biggest Easter Weekend on record at the North American box office — $130.2M in 2009, compared to next highest $112.8M in 2008.
Disney had been expecting a North American Fri-Sat-Sun gross of only $17M for the entire Easter Weekend of G-rated Hannah Montana, The Movie. But now the Smiley Miley starrer opened with that tween girl haul just for Friday from 3,118 theaters, $17.3M and another $10.3M Saturday and an estimated $6.4M Sunday for what was $34M for the entire Fri-Sat-Sun. That made this not only the #1 biggest Easter Weekend family film of all time (Disney has all Top 3), but also the No. 2 highest grossing Easter Weekend pic ever (surging past The Panic Room‘s $30.1M in 2002, but not the $40.2M debut of Scary Movie 4 in 2006). Rival studios had been predicting $40M and upwards, but Disney made sure to point out that, historically on Easter Weekend, Saturday’s box office usually drops by 41% from Friday’s (and HMTM was down by 41%), with Sunday’s similarly depressed, because of holiday activities. Friday’s take was the highest opening day for a G-rated live-action film in industry history. Surprisingly, Disney said 20% of the audience was male.
Hollywood had expected great numbers because of the rabid fanbase for the Disney Channel TV show and for Miley Cyrus. But Disney cautiously projected the pic to play like another Disney Channel small screen to big screen hit, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which opened on a non-Easter weekend to $17M for the 3 days. As for the huge success of 2008’s Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour flick, that was helped by Disney’s hyping it as a week-only engagement, which created a frenzy among tweens who couldn’t get tickets to see Cyrus live in concert.
Second place went to Universal’s blockbuster holdover Fast & Furious , the 4th in the street racing franchise, which easily crossed $100 million after just 8 days in theaters to $118M. Sure, it took a -65% tumble for $10.7M Friday after its humongous opening a week ago. But it earned $10.4M Saturday and ended Easter Weekend with around $28.8M (-59) from 3,472 venues. The fourquel also did $46.5M internationally this weekend from 50 territories to cross $200M worldwide.
DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters v Aliens distributed by Paramount came in 3rd with $9M Friday and $8.1M Saturday from 4,136 plays, for a $22.6M Easter Weekend and a new cume of $141M.
In 4th place was Warner Bros’ R-rated mall cop Observe And Report starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris and Ray Liotta: it opened with about $4.7M Friday and $3.9M Saturday from 2,727 dates for a $10.9M Easter Weekend. But what was the studio thinking by allowing a “date rape” scene in which Rogen’s character has sex with an unconscious female trashed on antidepressants and tequila? (Rogen in a recent interview said: “When we’re having sex and she’s unconscious like you can literally feel the audience thinking, like, how are they going to make this OK? … And then she says, like, the one thing that makes it all okay: ‘Why are you stopping’?” What utter crap. Everyone connected with this pic should be ashamed.
And following in 5th was Summit Entertainment’s Knowing with $2.5M Friday and Saturday for a $6.7M Easter Weekend from 2,925 dates and a new $68M cume.
Top 10 chart
1. Hannah Montana, The Movie (Disney) OPENER [3,118] Wkd $34M
2. Fast & Furious (Uni) Week 2 [3,472] Wkd $28M (-59%) Cume $118M
3. Monsters v Aliens (DWA/Par) Week 3 [4,136] Wkd $22M, Cume $141M
4. Observe And Report (WB) OPENER [2,727] Wkd $11M
5. Knowing (Summit) Week 4 [2,925] Wkd $6.6M, Cume $68M
6. I Love You, Man (DWA/Par) Week 4 [2,643] Wkd $6.4M, Cume $58.9M
7. Haunting In Conn (LG) Week 3 [2,721] Wkd $5.7M, Cume $46.3M
8. Dragonball Evolution (Fox) OPENER [2,181] Wkd $4.6M
9. Adventureland (Miramax) Week 2 (-40%) [1,876] Wkd $3.4M, Cume $11.4M
10. Duplicity (Uni) Week 4 [1,965] Wkd $2.9M, Cume $36.8M
More on Hannah Montana, The Movie: Once again, the Disney marketing machine got it right, sending Miley and her dad Billy Ray Cyrus around the country for surprise appearances at selected movie theaters. At 12:05 PM, the duo entered the Regal Pinnacle in Knoxville, Tennessee, and “the crowd went insane,” according to one report reaching me. “Miley and Billy Ray spoke to the audience, thanked them for being there, and told them that they were the reason for their success. Billy Ray asked if they would like to hear one of Miley’s songs. Everyone started yelling, ‘Yes!’ Then she sang the chorus from “The Best of Both Worlds”. The crowd kept chanting her name. (Photo, left, by Adam Brimer/Knoxville News Sentinel)
In Salt Lake City, Miley and Billy Ray showed up at the Megaplex 20 in the District around 3:40 PM. “It was pandemonium. Miley and Billy Ray again thanked the screaming audience for being there. Billy Ray invited all the kids to come down and pose with Miley and him. The crowd was staring in awe, kids were in tears, and everybody was unbelievably excited. As the duo were leaving, behind the theatre, a crowd of at least 500 formed and chanted ‘Miley’. The father and daughter signed some autographs and went on their way.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.