Not only did eight new releases reach the top 30 on this March 14's sales chart, but they were very top-heavy on the chart, taking the top three spots and six of the top seven. The new number one DVD was Precious with 726,000 units sold and $12.34 million in consumer spending at retail during its first week of release.
This week's contest is brought to you by the Smithsonian Channel, which airs Footprints on the Water: The Nan Hauser Story on Saturday at 8pm.
After a month of box office records, How to Train Your Dragon looks to end March on a high note. More importantly, it is the target film in this week's box office prediction contest. In order to win, one must simply predict the opening weekend box office number for How to Train Your Dragon.
Whoever comes the closest to predicting the film's opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going over, will win a Smithsonian Networks prize pack that includes a Smithsonian t-shirt, a tote bag, and two DVDs: The Big Blue and Stories from the Vaults: Season 1.
Meanwhile, whoever comes the closest to predicting the film's opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going under, will win a Capitalism: A Love Story prize pack that includes the film on Blu-ray and a mini-poster signed by Michael Moore.
Entries must be received by 10 a.m., Pacific Time on Friday to be eligible, so don't delay!
We have a pair of Awards Season players coming out this week. I was supposed to review both Precious and Up in the Air, but they ran out of screeners for the latter. Because of that, it is hard for me to say which one is more deserving of the Pick of the Week honors, so I'm going to award that title to both of them. That said, while the DVD and the Blu-ray for Precious are worth picking up, the Up in the Air Blu-ray is too expensive compared to the DVD.
The latest documentary from Michael Moore is the ironically-named Capitalism: A Love Story. It's rare for a documentary to crack $10 million at the box office, but Michael Moore has done so four times in a row now. After tackling the gun culture, the Bush presidency, and the healthcare system, he goes after capitalism itself.
The WGA announced their nominations this week, which include eleven awards, three of which are for theatrical releases.
Paranormal Activity remained on top of the per theater chart with an average of $25,711. The film finally saw its per theater average drop this past weekend, but it should still have no trouble expanding. Second place went to The Maid, which earned $17,036 in one theater. An Education remained in the $10,000 club with an average of $12,882, while A Serious Man took in more than $800,000 in 82 theaters for an average of $10,275.
No less than six films broke the $10,000 per theater average barrier over the weekend.
Paranormal Activity topped the per theater chart with its record-breaking weekend, earning an average of $49,379 in 160 theaters.
An Education was relatively close behind with an average of $39,754 in 4 theaters, which is a spectacular result at any time.
A Serious Man remained strong with an average of $21,872, which is enough to suggest further significant expansion over the coming weeks.
The number one film at the box office, Couples Retreat, was next with an average of $11,429.
Yes Men Fix the World and Bronson had nearly identical averages at $10,956 vs. $10,940.
There was only one new release coming out this weekend, but it topped expectations, and there was a surprise film in the top five, and both these events helped the market as a whole earn $110 million over the weekend.
This was 2.9% higher than last weekend and 7.7% higher than the same weekend last year.
Year to date, 2009 has now brought in $8.10 billion so far, which is 7.5% higher than the same pace last year.
The Columbus Day holiday weekend produced two big winners, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.
At the top of the chart, Couples Retreat exceeded expectations with $35.3 million.
A per theater average of nearly $12,000 for the poorly-reviewed comedy is a testament to Universal's marketing campaign and the box office power of its ensemble cast.
A great marketing campaign from Paramount can also be attributed to the success of the weekend's other big success: Paranormal Activity, which jumped into the top 5 with an estimated $7.066 million in just 159 theaters.
That's the smallest number of theaters for a movie to hit the top five ever, beating the performance of Platoon, which hit 4th place the weekend of January 16, 1987 playing in 174 theaters.
A Serious Man showed the competition who was serious by earning first place on the per theater chart earning an average of $41,890 in six theaters. Paranormal Activity climbed into the $10,000 club with a sophomore average of $16,129 and now there's a push to get it into 1000 theaters nationwide. More Than a Game earned an average of more than $10,000, $13,067 to be precise, placing third in the process. Coco Before Chanel repeated in the $10,000 club with an average of $12,878, but it will need some strong word-of-mouth if it wants to stay they one more week.
October started on a mixed note. While it was better than expected at the top, overall the box office was a little weak pulling in a total of $107 million. Granted, this was 10.7% higher than last week, this was 5.9% lower than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date 2009 has now earned $7.96 million, which is still 7.5% higher than last year's pace.
September ended with a thud, but at least there's good news. September has finally ended. Last month more movies missed expectations that topped them, which has put a cooling effect on the overall box office and that could hurt the business going into this month. October should still be stronger than last month, and since October of last year wasn't particularly great, 2009 should at least maintain its lead over 2008 going into the holiday season, even if it isn't as strong every single week.
There should be six new films in the top ten this weekend, or rather three new films, two re-releases, and one film expanding into the top ten. However, while there is a lot of activity, only one of these films is opening in more than 3,000 theaters while the others are opening in less than 2,000.
Because of this, there's not much doubt about which film will top the chart, but there is a question of by how much.
There is also a question of when the overall box office will be able to keep up with last year.
Capitalism - A Love Story lead the way on the per theater chart with an average of $57,991 in four theaters over the weekend, while it made nearly $300,000 in just five days.
Coco Before Chanel was well back, but it still made an impressive average of $35,427 in five theaters.
For both films, this is a good portent for its potential to expand.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men was the only other film in the $10,000 club after it made $18,510 in its lone theater.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs enjoyed the best second weekend hold of the year for a major release to win the weekend at the box office.
The 3D family movie earned $24.6 million, by Sony's estimate, which is down just 19% from its opening.
The studio will be hoping that the great word-of-mouth will keep the movie going even with the arrival of the Toy Story 3D Double Feature next weekend.
As September ends, we move closer to the start of Awards Season and there are a number of films that look on paper to be Awards Season contenders. There are also a lot of films that are earning terrible reviews and while likely disappear from theaters in short order. Amazingly, the widest release of the week appears to be a Canadian film, Trailer Park Boys - Countdown to Liquor Day.
Summer ended on a strong note with three films from August that have the potential to cross $100 million at the box office. But I don't think there's a single film coming out this month that has the potential to do the same.
Then again, we're not concerned with keeping up with August, we are concerned with keeping up with September last year, and that will be an easier task most weeks.