Monday, November 10, 2008

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Escape 2 the Bank

Wow. I totally missed this one. I knew the Dreamworks MADAGASCAR sequel would do well, that it would be the king of the forest, or desert or wild kingdom or whatever the African animals preside over but I did not see this much money coming its way. MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA outpaced the original right out of the cage, I mean gate, on Friday with $17 million. It then went on to crush every competitor out there, with its mammoth $63.5 million haul (compared to a first weekend of $47 million for the first outing) but audiences showed up in meerkat or lemur or lemming or “whatever that thing that likes to move it, move it is” size numbers for many other titles as well, making this a huge early jump to the holiday season.

Another title that surpassed expectations this week, hold its own very well against the family friends toon, was ROLE MODELS. The comedy, starring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott, skews slightly older but does certainly have a kid-friendly appeal to it, making its near $20 million take pretty impressive considering the competition. Rudd, who incidentally also co-wrote the screenplay, does not usually place himself in lead roles but this success will certainly make that more likely in the future. Meanwhile, Scott got some much needed love that has been lacking for him with recent misses like THE PROMOTION or MR. WOODCOCK.

The only other Top 10 debut this week was an unfortunate misfire for Bernie Mac’s last screen work before his death earlier this fall, SOUL MEN. This film opened in sixth place, thanks to strong holds for CHANGELING and ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO that shut it out of the Top 5. This title is a sure fire rental hit so audiences will get their chance to see Mac’s last show before this title drifts into obscurity but it would have been nice for his memory to be honoured in a larger fashion.

Below the Top, this week’s biggest success story was THE BOY IN STRIPED PAJAMAS. The WWII story about two boys, one on each side of a fence to a concentration camp, pulled in $15K per screen for the second highest per screen average of any film this week, behind the MADAGASCAR sequel. The most unlikely of art house heroes, Jean Claude van Damme saw a promising start for his self-referential fictionalized account of his current life, JCVD. The film opened to $11K per screen on just two locations. I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG, SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK and NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM continued to pull in averages just below $10K. And, the wedding of the year, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, added another 258 screens, bringing it ever so closer to the Top 10 with a 133% increase. If you haven’t RSVP’d to this one already, you should get on that. You wouldn’t want to miss this dessert table.

NEXT WEEK: Huge week! Only one major mass market release and one art house release worth noting. What? That doesn’t seem huge? Well, you haven‘t considered the titles we’re talking about here. For the art crowd, the audience winner at this year’s TIFF, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, from Danny Boyle. And for the masses, Bond, James Bond, in QUANTUM OF SOLACE. They didn’t even try to counter program. Welcome back, Mr. Bond.

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