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Blart Beats Back Competition

January 26th, 2009

New releases missed expectations, but enough of the holdovers excelled that that overall box office was still strong. Granted, it was down 17% from last weekend, but given the post-holiday slump, this is not bad. Also, $160 million is 14% more than the same weekend last year and it keeps 2009 well ahead of 2008 $861 million to $707 million, or 22%.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop beat expectations, down just 32% to $21.62 million over the past three days for a total of $64.92 million after ten. At this pace, the $100 million milestone will be no trouble to reach, but it will take two weeks to get there, more or less. When it does, it will be Kevin James' fourth $100 million hit, and his second in a row.

Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans's opening weekend box office fell towards the lower end of Thursday's predictions. The very lower end in fact, as it opened with $20.83 million, which is by far the lowest in the franchise so far. With a production budget that is reportedly $35 million, it is likely this will be the last installment, at least the last one to earn a theatrical release. Early reviews were very strong, but over the weekend they quickly sunk to just 35% positive, which is in line with expectations. Given the Sequel Effect, it is unlikely that this film will have strong legs moving forward, and even just matching the first film seems unlikely.

Gran Torino matched Thursday's prediction (nearly) perfectly with $16.24 million and lifted its running tally to $97.82 million. The film is now two or three days away from reaching $100 million.

Hotel for Dogs beat expectations with $12.86 million over the weekend and now has a total of $37.46 million after two. I think it is safe to say this is a result of much weaker direct competition than as a result of any inherent strength the movie itself has. That said, contrary to earlier reports, the film's production budget was a much more realistic $25 to $35 million, which means this film should have no trouble showing a profit early in its initial push into the home market, if not sooner.

Slumdog Millionaire was able to grab a spot in the top five with an impressive $10.70 million in just 1,415 theaters. This was not only the best per theater average over the weekend, but it makes the film's chances at reaching $100 million in total a lot stronger. The film's amazing reviews and its performance during Awards Season should push it over the top.

The only other wide release of the week was Inkheart, which bombed. I don't think there's any really polite way to put that, as it barely matched the lower end of expectations with $7.60 million during its first three days of release. Given its reivews and its per theater average, I don't expect it to last long in theaters, and $20 million could be as good as it gets in the end.

There were other films that had significant expansions this past weekend, but none did particularly well. Revolutionary Road did more than double last weekend's haul, but still missed the top ten with $5.19 million. Frost/Nixon saw even higher growth, on a percent basis, but only made $3.02 million over the weekend. Finally, The Dark Knight's return went unnoticed by moviegoers and its attempt to reach $1 billion worldwide took a hit.

Moving on to the sophomore class, My Bloody Valentine just missed the top five with $10.01 million, which was perfectly in line with expectations, while its total of $37.69 million was more than it cost to make. Notorious collapsed to just $5.78 million, which was down nearly 72% over its opening weekend, which is the worst sophomore stint performance for a film that opened with more than $20 million. Defiance held on much better, down 36%, but still fell out of the top ten with $5.67 million during its second weekend of wide release.

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Filed under: The Dark Knight, Gran Torino, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Hotel for Dogs, My Bloody Valentine, Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans, Notorious, Defiance, Revolutionary Road, Frost/Nixon