Weekend Wrap-Up

Monster vs. Aliens Jolts Box Office

By John Hamann

March 29, 2009

But how do they...um, let's just not even think about it.

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Monsters vs. Aliens is going to be a $200 million film – just from the domestic box office. It will set the baseline for animated 3-D event pictures, and future movies in the genre are going to be compared to this one. There are dozens of these films in the works, as studios use 3-D to charge patrons – in this case children – a few extra bucks at the door. Could MvA have been bigger? Certainly. A better release date and stronger marketing campaign were needed; however, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation will be more than happy to settle with this launch figure.

Pulling up in second this weekend is another strong finisher, Lionsgate's horror flick The Haunting in Connecticut. The cheap to make, cheap to market movie earned an impressive $23 million this weekend on the back of a strong TV ad and trailer. Out to 2,732 venues, Haunting had a venue average of $8,422. The Haunting in Conneticut stars Viriginia Madsen, who hasn't had a big film since Sideways in 2004, which finished with $71.5 million. For Lionsgate, this is another horror success for the seemingly always struggling studio. They've actually had a bit more luck recently, with a strong Tyler Perry effort in Madea Goes To Jail, which almost made it to $100 million (current gross about $88 million), and My Bloody Valentine, another 3-D example with premiums paid. Valentine finished with $55 million, and came on the heels of Lionsgate's most recent Saw outing, which opened to $30 million, but finished with $56.7 million. The recent lesser lights for Lionsgate came with The Spirit, which flopped with a $6 million opening and a $20 million finish, and New in Town, the Renee Zellwegger bomb that opened to $6.7 million and finished with about $16 million.


The Haunting in Connecticut is a throwback to some of the "successful for no reason" horror flicks of the past few years. This one was shot back in September 2007, meaning it sat on a shelf for quite awhile. That shelf time was an indicator of quality, as this one was only 18% fresh at RottenTomatoes, with 13 of 68 reviews positive at the time of this writing. Most likely made for less than $20 million, Haunting will end up a success for Lionsgate, which has to be a nice surprise for the studio. Sure, it will probably fall more than 50% next weekend, but with the budget most likely matched over opening weekend, the rest is gravy for Lionsgate.

Third spot goes to last weekend's number one film, Knowing, and it held better than I expected it would. Knowing earned $14.7 million in its second frame, and was off 40%. I was expecting more than a 50% plunge, as this is Nic Cage, after all. His last few non-sequel films worked like this: Bangkok Dangerous fell 67% in its second weekend, Next fell 59%, Ghost Rider fell 56%, and The Wicker Man dropped 58%. Knowing must be getting some word-of-mouth due to the "disaster porn" effects, and now has a total after two weekends of $46.2 million.

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