Sunday, November 02, 2008

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: High School Trick or Treaters

I happened to be out on Halloween night on a way to a friend’s place for some good eats and leftover candy. I couldn’t help but notice the obscene amount of teenagers parading around in costumes. When was Halloween taken away from the kids? Oblivious selfishness aside, the high number of teenage trick or treaters certainly explains why HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 placed fifth on Friday, plummeting nearly 90% week on week. Still, all those teenagers went home that night, overdosed on candy and bounced their way back to the theatres throughout the rest of the weekend, sending the Disney juggernaut back to the top of a mild frame.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 fended off ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO this weekend to remain on top despite an overall drop of 64%. The front-heavy title was expected to drop off drastically and the numbers it posted Friday led many to believe it would lose its place as king of the prom. By the end of the weekend though, ZACK AND MIRI, its closest competitor, missed by nearly $5 million. The R-rated Kevin Smith directed pic only managed a third place finish on Friday and finished with a modest $10 million, when prognosticators were expecting closer to the high teens. On average, it performed below HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL as well so its lower turnout cannot be simply chalked up to a lesser theatre count or its R-rating. Maybe had Smith made an actual porno, he would have a fared better.

The film that opened better than ZACK AND MIRI on Friday was the unexpected CHANGELING. The first of two Clint Eastwood films expected this year stars Angelina Jolie and drew in big adult crowds despite the critical split on the film’s merits. CHANGELING pulled in the highest per screen average of any film in the Top 10 but saw its returns dwindle throughout the course of the weekend so this latest Jolie Oscar bait looks to be going the same route as last summer’s A MIGHTY HEART.

Not surprisingly, the number one movie on Halloween was SAW V. This would mark the first time a SAW film climbed to number one in its second frame. Overall though, it still dropped off a frightening 66% and is trailing SAW 4 by about 10%. In fact, this is definitely the least successful SAW since the inaugural gorefest. Meanwhile, SAW VI is currently in development.

Below the Top 10, a number of arthouse pictures performed to varying results. The most notable was Guy Ritchie’s ROCKNROLLA expansion. The film was playing to diminishing results in limited release and added 807 screens this week to find itself with a poor take of $1.75 million. It’s $2K average was a far cry from a number of other limited runs. RACHEL GETTING MARRIED dropped off less than 2% in its fourth frame. The Jonathan Demme Oscar contender has grossed a total of $3.8 million so far. Mike Leigh’s HAPPY-GO-LUCKY added another 41 screens and saw its gross increase by another 65% over last weekend. Kristen Scott Thomas’s performance is I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG is getting rave reviews and those reviews are driving in the audiences. The film added another 11 screens this week and saw it’s gross improve by 110%. Still, higher averages can be found for the Charlie Kaufman film, SYNECHDOCHE NEW YORK ($11K) and surprisingly, NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM ($14K).

NEXT WEEK: Opening on nearly 4000 screens, there will be no match for MADAGASCAR 2. Two other comedies will compete for different male demographics – the white bred ROLE MODELS, starring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott and the urban skewed SOUL MEN, starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac.

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