Best Picture Oscar Nominees Go Wide But 'Mall Cop' Still #1 And 'Underworld' #2

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SUNDAY AM: For the second straight weekend, No. 1 went to moronic comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop with an amazing hold of 32%, closely followed by a newcomer, the derivative vampire threequel Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans. Sony Pictures grabbed bragging rights with both pictures which were neck and neck all weekend. Screen Gems’ Underworld playing in 2,942 theaters opened with a $20.7M weekend right in line with expectations  and its modest $35M negative cost but still short of the second installment Underworld: Evolution‘s debut of $26.8M in January 2006 and the original Underworld‘s $21.7M in January 2004. But Columbia’s Mall Cop made $21.5 million from 3,144 venues and hefty new cume of $64.8M after only 10 days of release. The Kevin James starrer cost only $26M to produce. Again, if Americans want Hollywood to make better quality movies, then they should stop showing up for crappy ones.

Warner Bros’ Gran Torino stayed strong with 3rd place after earning $16M from 3,045 dates for an amazing $97.5M cume. So the fact that Oscar voters blanked Clint Eastwood for nominations hasn’t hurt the performance of his pic one bit. Hotel For Dogs from DreamWorks / Paramount jumped up to 4th with $12.3M in 3,271 venues (only -27%) because of big Saturday kiddie matinees with a new $36.9M cume. No. 5 Slumdog Millionaire, the Academy Award frontrunner from Fox Searchlight expanding into 1,411 runs and taking in $10.5M for a new cume of $55.9M. As for the non-Oscar buzzed pics, Lionsgate’s 6th place My Bloody Valentine 3-D eked out another $10.5M from 2,534 theaters (-53% from a week ago) for a new cume of $37.7M. The only other newcomer, New Line/Warner Bros’ kids/family fantasy Inkheart, opened disastrously at No. 7 with just $7.7M Friday from 2,655 dates. 20th Century Fox’s Bride Wars hung on for #8 with $7M from 2,621 runs and $48.7M cume. After snagging 13 Oscar nominations, Paramount’s The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button got only a modest bump with a $6M weekend but a big new cume of $111M. Finally, Fox Searchlight’s Notorious finished #9 with $5.7 million (a staggering -72%) from 1,641 plays and $31.7M cume.

Best Picture-nodded films went into wider release this weekend: Paramount Vantage’s Revolutionary Road made in 1,058 theaters made $5.2M for a new $11.8 cume. Fox Searchlight’s The Wrestler expanded into 566 venues and earned $3.7M this weekend and new cume of $9.5M. While Imagine / Universal’s Frost/Nixon expanded into 1,099 plays for $3 million this weekend and a cume of $12M. The Weinstein Co’s The Reader in 367 dates took in $1.4M this weekend for a new cume of $9.6M. Focus Features’ Milk still in only 250 theaters snagged $864K this weekend for a new cume of $21.6M. And Focus’ Doubt, in 404 venues, earned $852K for a $26.7M cume.

Overall, this was a big $160M weekend, up 13.7% over last year’s.

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