Perfect Storm Catapults Box Office
By John Hamann
February 15, 2009
For me, the surprise of the weekend comes in third, as Taken - once again - has an extremely strong hold. Not a Valentine's title (research says it's all about horror and romantic comedies on Valentine's weekend), Taken does the unlikely and earns $19.3 million this weekend - its third - and drops only 6% after dropping only 17% in the previous frame. This is all from a film that was never supposed to show up in the first place, instead opening in first three weekends ago with $24 million. Taken is now the Paul Blart of action movies, and we are starting to see an economic downturn trend in the first few months of 2009 - films that are not really exceptional are holding much better than expected. This weekend, Taken benefited from the lead-up to the President's Day holiday on Monday, and now has a remarkable running total of $77.9 million. The Liam Neeson actioner from Fox is now a shoe-in to earn $100 million, a fact that would have brought fits of laughter from me only a few weekends ago.
Fourth goes to Confessions of a Shopaholic, and despite the lower ranking, still has a solid Valentine's Day weekend. Shopaholic earned $15.4 million over its opening frame from a subdued venue count of 2,507 venues. It had a venue average of $6,145. Considering the competition, Shopaholic had a tough row to hoe this weekend, despite being based on a bestseller. With a cast of thousands supporting He's Just Not That Into You, Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) had a lot riding on her shoulders as she tried to carry Shopaholic on her own. Considering the woman had never opened a film before, this kind of debut isn't bad at all - not far off the $20 million that Reese Witherspoon opened Legally Blonde to in 2001. The problem may be quality here, as Shopaholic is no Legally Blonde in the review department. Friday the 13th is actually receiving BETTER reviews than Shopaholic, as Jason and friends finished with a 28% fresh rating, better than Shopaholic's 20% fresh rating. Could this one be done quick? I doubt it, but one never knows.
Fifth goes to Focus Features' small hit Coraline, the 3-D animated flick from Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick. After opening last weekend to $16.8 million, Coraline follows that up with another strong gross, as it brings in $15 million for only an 11% drop into the second frame. Coraline used the President's Day weekend to push its grosses up (it's like having two Saturdays for the kids), and now the $35 million animated production has a total of $35.5 million after only two weekends. It'll have another weekend to work solo in the next frame, before the Jonas Brothers steal all the teen/tween dollars with their concert movie opening on the 27th.
Paul Blart is just like Jason in the Friday the 13th series - he just won't die. Paul Blart: Mall Cop earned another $11.7 million this weekend, an increase of 7% compared to the last frame. Blart works on a lot of levels this weekend. It was counter-programming to Jason on Friday, an older couple Valentine's Day choice on Saturday, and a kids' movie on Sunday. Paul Blart blew past $100 million this weekend, and now has a total of $110.5 million - all against a production budget of $25 million. It might shake you to your foundation, but Paul Blart is going to finish with about $140 million on the domestic side.