Weekend Wrap-Up

Clint Eastwood Shocks Box Office

By John Hamann

January 11, 2009

Flags of our grandfathers.

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The awful Bride Wars finishes second, and hopefully reminds us that a strong central performance goes so much further than a one-joke comedy. Bride Wars, starring the currently hot Anne Hathaway and the currently not hot Kate Hudson, opened to a decent $21.5 million from a ludicrously wide venue count of 3,226. It had a venue average of $6,665. Bride Wars is our usual January release - just plain awful, with a release strategy that reminds one of a blizzard or a flood. Unlike Gran Torino, Bride Wars is the furthest thing from unique, as 20th Century Fox is unabashedly copying the strategy of 27 Dresses, last January's wedding flick. 27 Dresses was also from Fox, was also released in January, and also starred a current flavor-of-the-week in Katherine Heigl. The one thing that 27 Dresses did have going for it is that it received better reviews than Bride Wars, coming in at 41% fresh at RottenTomatoes. Bride Wars did much worse, finishing at 11% fresh, which even puts it behind this weekend's insipid horror release, The Unborn (now that‘s saying something). Sadly, 27 Dresses had fair legs, and the same will most likely be the case with Bride Wars. 27 Dresses had an open-to-total multiplier of 3.3 ($23 million opening, $76.8 million domestic finish), and if Bride Wars does the same, it will finish in the same ballpark as 27 Dresses. Go see Gran Torino instead, people.

The token early-January horror release this year is The Unborn, and this one actually gave me hope until reviews started to trickle in. The Unborn is written and directed by David S. Goyer, the scribe who gave us Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and my favorite film, Dark City. Unfortunately, that kind of quality does not come close to The Unborn, but it still managed to take in $21.1 million from a subdued venue count of 2,357. The Unborn did receive better reviews than Bride Wars, but only by a percentage point or two at RottenTomatoes. It currently sits with a not-so-fresh rating of 13%. If The Unborn follows the same pattern as One Missed Call, last January's token horror flick, it should be out of the top ten in only a few weekends.

That moves us into the holiday holdovers section of the top ten, led again by Marley and Me, which finishes fourth. After dropping by two-thirds from last Friday to this Friday, Marley couldn't make up the difference over the weekend, and grossed $11.4 million, giving it a large drop of 53%. With the top three films this weekend grossing over $70 million, holdovers were apt to pay. 20th Century Fox doesn't care. They have Bride Wars in the number two spot, and Marley & Me has now earned $123.7 million. Look for it to finish with $150 million plus from domestic sales alone.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button finishes in fifth and also suffers from a post-holiday season hangover. Benjamin Button earned $9.5 million and was off 49% compared to the previous frame. Still, the Brad Pitt starrer is going to cross the $100 million mark in the next couple of days, as its total now sits at $94.3 million. Considering the almost three-hour running time, this has to be considered a success for the folks at Paramount, despite the $150 million production budget.

Sixth is Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories, which drops heavily from its second place finish last weekend. Bedtime Stories earned $8.6 million this weekend, and was off 58% compared to the previous frame. The Disney flick has now earned $97.2 million, and is another to cross the $100 million mark in the next few days.


That puts Valkyrie in seventh with a gross of $6.7 million. The Tom Cruise Hitler pic dropped 53% compared to last weekend, but its domestic gross is approaching its $75 million production budget. So far, Valkyrie has earned $71.5 million domestically.

Eighth goes to Yes Man, the Jim Carrey comedy. Yes Man earned another $6.2 million for Warner Bros., and drops a large 56%. This one cost about $70 million to make and has earned $89.4 million domestically, with an additional $35 million overseas.

Finishing ninth is our third new release of the weekend, Not Easily Broken, from Sony and Screen Gems. Not Easily Broken did okay despite a small venue count, earning $5.6 million from only 724 venues. It had a strong venue average of $7,735. With only an $8 million production cost, Not Easily Broken has done what it has to do already, even if it slips out of the top 12 next weekend.

Tenth spot goes to Will Smith's Seven Pounds, which will probably be remembered as the under-achiever of the 2008 holiday season. Seven Pounds earned $3.9 million and was off 61%. It has a current total of $66.8 million.

Arthouse releases continued to do extremely well this weekend. Slumdog Millionaire earned $3.4 million from 601 venues; Doubt earned $2.5 million from 1,287 venues; The Reader earned $1.4 million from 507 venues; Milk earned $1.3 million from 295 venues; Frost/Nixon earned $912,250 million from 205 venues; Revolutionary Road earned $1.4 million from 135 venues; and The Wrestler earned $873,898 million from 60 venues.

Overall this weekend - and for the second straight weekend - the movie-going business is strong. Last year over the same weekend, The Bucket List was on top with $19.4 million, and led the top 12 films to a cume of $106 million. This year improved on that by a wide margin, earning a powerful $129.8 million, thanks to the surprise showing from Gran Torino. Next weekend brings four films in wide release including Hotel For Dogs from Paramount, Paul Bart: Mall Cop, the 3-D version of My Bloody Valentine, and Notorious, about the life and death of The Notorious B.I.G. It should be an interesting weekend.

Top Weekend Box Office for 1/9/09-1/11/09 (Actuals)
Rank Film Distributor Estimated Gross Actual Gross Weekly Change Running Total
1 Gran Torino Warner Bros. Pictures $29,025,000 $29,484,388 +904.1% $40,524,518
2 Bride Wars Twentieth Century Fox $21,500,000 $21,058,173 New $21,058,173
3 The Unborn Rogue Pictures $21,095,150 $19,810,585 New $19,810,585
4 Marley & Me Twentieth Century Fox $11,350,000 $11,391,425 - 53.1% $123,751,596
5 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Paramount $9,450,000 $9,212,515 - 50.7% $94,092,395
6 Bedtime Stories Walt Disney Pictures $8,550,000 $8,802,120 - 57.1% $97,432,093
7 Valkyrie United Artists $6,662,000 $6,617,065 - 53.1% $71,464,448
8 Yes Man Warner Bros. $6,155,000 $6,032,337 - 56.6% $89,288,024
9 Not Easily Broken Screen Gems $5,600,000 $5,314,278 New $5,314,278
10 Seven Pounds Columbia Pictures (Sony) $3,900,000 $3,818,230 - 62.1% $66,748,686
11 Slumdog Millionaire Warner Independent Pictures $3,730,000 $3,782,340 - 19.4% $34,127,195
12 Twilight Summit Entertainment $2,789,000 $2,841,852 - 38.9% $181,448,642
  Also Opening/Notables
  Defiance Paramount Vantage $66,000 $68,183 - 44.8% $309,017
  Revolutionary Road Paramount Vantage $1,440,000 $1,425,346 + 44.6% $3,155,656
  Last Chance Harvey Overture Films $151,058 $141,671 + 38.6% $531,825
  The Tale of Despereaux Universal $2,641,550 $2,733,585 - 60.6% $47,584,450
  The Wrestler Fox Searchlight $873,898 $848,410 + 93.8% $2,822,431
  Doubt Miramax Films $2,503,000 $2,521,118 - 49.6% $22,959,422
  The Day the Earth Stood Still Twentieth Century Fox $1,550,000 $1,550,629 - 69.3% $77,330,238
  The Reader The Weinstein Company $1,352,000 $1,346,742 - 15.7% $5,510,453
  Frost/Nixon Universal $912,250 $891,627 - 36.3% $7,631,181
  Milk Focus Features $1,250,903 $1,296,051 - 31.4% $19,163,996
  Australia 20th Century Fox $600,000 $617,314 - 46.9% $47,764,206
  Bolt Walt Disney Pictures $1,346,000 $1,370,487 - 58.4% $111,806,897
Click here for all weekend data
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations
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