Sunday, September 21, 2008

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Samuel L. Jackson Moves In

Samuel L. Jackson living next door to you is apparently horrifying to everyone except perhaps the people at Screen Gems, as they celebrate the number one opening of LAKEVIEW TERRACE, in which a happy couple move to the suburbs only to find that they are living next to the neighborhood terrorist. So if you are not with the Screen Gems camp and you discover Mr. Jackson lurking around your rose bushes, I suggest you call your realtor.

LAKEVIEW TERRACE opened solidly with fifteen and a half million and a sturdy per screen average of over $6K. This would not be enough though to elevate the overall box office to the same levels as the pack of Hollywood hits from last weekend did. LAKEVIEW TERRACE is certainly the only successful wide opening of the weekend. Opening just below in third and fourth respectively was the romantic comedy, MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL and the animated IGOR. Both films earned mediocre per screens of $3K and poor reviews. The weekend’s only other wide opener, the David Koepp directed GHOST TOWN, opened on a good chunk less screens but found a similar sized audience for an eighth place debut. All four films found their own audiences and found at the same time that these audiences weren’t all that big.

Brad Pitt was feeling generous this week when he gave $100K to support the gay community looking to keep gay marriage legal in California when the subject comes up for debate in the coming election. It’s no surprise he’s out there giving it away as he is clearly riding high on the success of his latest, BURN AFTER READING. The Coen Brothers directed pic held steady with only a 41% loss for a 2nd place finish. Good word of mouth and strong critical response has made it the must-see September title. This isn’t saying that much given the competition but it’s still something. Last week’s other holdover titles all plummeted by nearly 50% or more, showing absolutely no staying power whatsoever.

Two high profile festival favorites made their platform debuts to spectacular results this weekend. The Ed Harris directed western, APPALOOSA, scored an $18K per screen average on 14 screens. The other title outshined even that with a $29K average on a mere 7 screens. This would be the Saul Dibb directed, THE DUCHESS, starring Keira Knightly. Both will expand slowly in the weeks to come and will hopefully do so more smoothly than TOWELHEAD. After a stellar platform last week, the film fizzled after adding 14 screens, the Alan Ball directorial debut saw its per screen average drop from $13K to under $4K. The true test comes this weekend when it expands to 90 screens. If it doesn’t work out, Ball might want to change his name to Baghead because he might not want to show his face for a while.

NEXT WEEK: What is with all this overcrowding? Aside from three high profile wide releases, there are no less than a dozen limited releases vying for the North American dollar. The biggies include the Shia LaBeouf thriller, EAGLE-EYE, the repairing of Richard Gere and Diane Lane, NIGHT AT RODANTHE and the latest Spike Lee mess, I mean, joint, MIRACLE AT ST, ANNA. Meanwhile, BLINDNESS, CHOKE and THE LUCKY ONES are just a few of the indies hoping to find a place in the crowd. C’mon, Hollywood, spread the love!

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