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Torino Makes Eastwood's Weekend

January 12th, 2009

Just like this weekend last year, the number one film was a limited release expanding wide. However, while that movie, and indeed practically every new release was a pleasant surprise, the holdovers fell faster than expected to leave the box office down 4.4% from last week at $146 million. That is still a whopping 13% more than the same weekend last year, and that gives 2009 an early 25% lead over 2008. The key word is "early." It is far too soon to tell if 2009 is going to finish ahead of 2008, while any expectations that it can maintain this pace are completely unreasonable.

Early buzz had Gran Torino being a potential Oscar contender. That's not going to happen. However, while it is not Oscar-worthy, its reviews have still been very strong and its box office performance even stronger. In fact, this past weekend it surpassed even the highest end of expectations and pulled in an impressive $29.48 million over the weekend for a total of $40.52 million. Should the film continue to have strong legs, it will be able to reach $100 million theatrically. It is not unheard of for a late year limited release to expand wide enough to earn $100 million, but usually they have to go through Oscar voters first.

Bride Wars may have lost out on first place, but it still matched Thursday's prediction perfectly with $21.06 million on a production budget that was reportedly just $30 million. Even with its terrible reviews, which will likely result in short legs, the movie should have no trouble earning a profit during its initial push onto the home market, if not sooner.

The Unborn was close behind, which was a surprise, as some were expecting it wouldn't even place in the top five. It earned $19.81 million over its opening weekend, which is probably close to what it cost to make. Even with a genre that is not known for long legs, awful reviews, and direct competition opening next week, it is well on its way to profitability.

Marley & Me fell from first to fourth with $11.39 million over the weekend, but that was within a rounding error of expectations. It was also enough to lift the film's running tally to $123.75 million, which is more than enough to make Fox very happy.

Rounding out the top five was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which added $9.21 million over the weekend for a total of $94.09 million. At this pace, both this film and sixth place Bedtime Stories will cross $100 million by this time next week.

Not Easily Broken topped Thursday's prediction with ease, earning an impressive $5.31 million on just 724 screens. On the other hand, with weak reviews, the film's prospects at expanding are rather limited, but it could match original expectations, despite opening in less than half as many theaters.

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Filed under: Gran Torino, Marley & Me, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bedtime Stories, Bride Wars, The Unborn, Not Easily Broken