Paul Blart, Valentine, Notorious Rule MLK Weekend
By John Hamann
January 18, 2009
Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino has another strong weekend, dropping from first last weekend to second this weekend, which is excellent considering the competition. After a $29.5 million gross in the last frame, Gran Torino earned another $22.3 million, giving the drama a solid drop of only 25%. With this kind of hold, Eastwood should be on his way to his fifth $100 million film of his career, and this one could be his biggest. His current top grosser, Every Which Way But Loose, finished with $104.3 million. Gran Torino is our third consecutive budget-to-gross winner this weekend, as Torino cost $33 million to make, and has now earned $73.2 million.
Third goes to My Bloody Valentine 3-D.. The Lionsgate 3-D horror spectacular pulled in $21.9 million over three-days from 2,534 venues, which gives it an average of $8,642. It becomes the 11th biggest January opener ever. It slightly beats the opening of last weekend's horror flick The Unborn ($19.8 million open), but surprisingly, it got pretty decent reviews. You may want to hold onto something while reading this: My Bloody Valentine 3-D was the best-reviewed opener of the weekend, coming in at 73% fresh at RottenTomatoes. Of course, only one ‘top critic' has chimed in (Variety's Joe Leydon, fresh), but with 22 reviews out of 31 being positive, obviously something went right. This is going to be our third consecutive opener that has done quite well versus its budget, as the New York Times reported a budget figure of only $20 million. Lionsgate needs a success, as two hopefuls, The Spirit and Punisher: War Zone, both recently flopped with a combined gross of about $27 million.
Finishing fourth is Notorious, the film I thought would win the weekend. It still had a great weekend, as the biopic about The Notorious B.I.G. earned $21.5 million from only 1,638 venues, a better score than tracking had indicated. Its opening take gives Notorious the crown for biggest venue average in the top 12, as this one came in at an incredibly strong $13,126 per theatre. It's also the 13th biggest January opener ever. From Fox Searchlight, Notorious stepped up strongly in the last week, and given this kind of opening, we have to believe crossed over from its target and reached a wider audience. Reviews for Notorious were mixed almost right down the middle at RT, as the biopic finished with a 52% fresh rating. While I don't expect huge legs for Notorious, the budget here was probably less than the opening weekend gross, so I see it being another success for the folks at Fox Searchlight (The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire).
Fifth goes to our last true opener, Hotel For Dogs. Despite being the widest release with 3,271 venues, the kids' flick finishes at the bottom of our string of openers, possibly due to an overabundance of dog films released over the last few months. Hotel For Dogs earned a not bad $17.7 million this weekend, and finished with a venue average of $5,413. It's now the 23rd biggest January opener ever (it would have been 20th if not for the other competition). After big returns for Marley & Me ($130 million and counting), Bolt ($112 million), and Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($94 million), the dog movie is just about played out, and this one may have opened bigger if it had been at the head of the pack. Starring Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow and Julia Roberts' niece Emma, Hotel For Dogs was our most expensive opener, costing Paramount $75 million to make. It's going to need better-than-average legs to recoup that budget domestically, and a 45% fresh rating isn't going to help.