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Box Office Breakdown: Fred Claus No Match for Jerry Seinfeld

Bee Movie

In a shocking turn of events, came buzzing back to life this weekend stealing the #1 spot from recent victor, Bee’s $25 million take also embarrassed the newest comedic entry, .

Although fellow ‘Frat Packer’ rang bells with November 2003’s Elf, couldn’t come close to matching his friend’s $31.1 million debut.  The news was especially surprising given Vaughn and director David Dobkin’s recent collaboration on 2005’s Wedding Crashers.  Could this mean Vaughn’s only appealing when he’s part of a larger comedic team?

Also noteworthy this weekend was the disappointing performance of Lions wasn’t expected to take in Mission Impossible-esque numbers, but the film did still boast , and actor/director .  As it was, the movie grossed less than any other Cruise-attached wide release in more than 20 years.  At least Streep can say this topical film debuted higher than her last attempt ().

, the only other new Top Ten entry, racked up ninth place.

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Box Office Breakdown: A Gangbusters Weekend for Washington, Crowe

American Gangster

Combine and star-wattage and you’re bound to get a hit.  But did anyone expect a $43 million debut for ?  Why did these Oscar-winners do so well when others have only done okay?  How did an R-rated film beat out an animated PG flick?  Why didn’t the movie’s long running-time (157 minutes) turn people away?

Gangster’s #1 spot was just one of the film’s many weekend achievements.  The movie also marked the biggest opening weekend for both lead actors (Russell’s Gladiator earned $35 million; Washington’s Inside Man grossed $29 million).  It also had the 2nd best debut for a drama in November (right behind 2002’s 8 Mile).

Unfortunately, all this good news was lost on comedian —the hardest working self-promoter of 2007.  Even though spent countless hours of airtime sucking up to its former Golden Boy, Seinfeld’s was stung with a 2nd place finish.  Although $38 million take is nothing to complain about, I expect next week’s will slide right in to become the week’s best-grossing comedy.

 

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Box Office Breakdown: Saw Slices Its Way to #1

Saw IV

This weekend’s success of proved that ‘torture porn’ is very much alive and well…at least right before All Hallows Eve.  (Apparently originality is not a prerequisite when you’re in the haunting mood.)  The horror series, which took in $55 million domestically when it debuted in 2004, bloodied the competition with its recent $31 million take.  It will now likely hit the $80 million mark the last two installments surpassed.

Although , lagged behind with only $11 million, the film at least managed to place second.  Hopefully Dan will have legs in the weeks to come; it’s a nice counter-programming option for those desperately seeking romance on their date nights.  Those hunting for acceptable kids fare may have it a bit harder though—- which probably explains why has remained firmly planted in the Top Five.

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Box Office Breakdown: 30 Days of Night Sucks Up the Competition

30 Days of Night

I never thought I would ever find myself writing this:  ‘A Josh Hartnett-led film has opened at #1.’  Of course, he did have a little help from a vampire or two..

The horror film, , had an impressive debut for what was actually an unimpressive weekend.  With only $16 million, the Alaskan-set vampire flick beat out a host of movies filled with Oscar-nominated stars.  Ben Affleck’s well-reviewed directorial debut, , opened up in 6th place.  , starring are-they-or-aren’t-they-dating Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal, barely cracked the Top Ten.  Meanwhile, placed a dismal 15th despite the presence of Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro (and promotion on Oprah).

The success of 30 Days and the surprise return of - which placed 8th even though it was only in 564 theaters - clearly spells out the audience’s need for some Halloween fare.  This bodes well for the release of which opens next weekend.  (Yay!)

 

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Box Office Breakdown: Tyler Perry vs. George Clooney

Michael Clayton

This weekend saw , , and all fighting for your box office dollars—so who would have thought would come out the big winner?

Even though two of his last three films opened with impressive numbers, very few predicted the writer/actor/producer/director would topple the competition.  Now the number crunchers know better.  Though the debut underperformed 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman ($21.9 million) and 2006’s Madea’s Family Reunion ($30 million), Tyler Perry’s still scored $10 million more than its nearest competitor.

Additionally surprising was the lasting success of Disney’s .  The film finally dropped one notch to #2 in its third week—also beating out and .  Although kid-friendly fare is rarity these days, the movie’s ability to remain so strong is quite impressive.

 

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Box Office Breakdown: The Rock Upsets The Heartbreak Kid

The Heartbreak Kid

Despite what you may have learned in school, + The Farrelly Brothers does not necessarily equal box office gold.

The team behind There’s Something About Mary took a backseat to last weekend’s winner:  The Game PlanThe Heartbreak Kid, a remake of the 1972 Neil Simon comedy, raked in only $14 million.  While Mary did open with a smaller gross back in 1998 ($13.7M), it’s doubtful this critically-panned movie will become another sleeper hit for the trio.  Thankfully co-star will have the upcoming Gone Baby Gone to wash this disappointment away.

The only other new entries into the Top 10 included the fantasy flick, The Seeker ($3.7M), and the J.Lo-produced dance film, Feel the Noise ($3.1M).  Meanwhile, the well-reviewed Michael Clayton pulled impressive numbers in limited release ($46,000 per screen).  Expect the vehicle to open wide this weekend.

 

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Box Office Breakdown:  The Game Plan Scores the Win

The Game Plan

The execs at Disney must be loving themselves this week.  Not only are are they attached to one of hottest concert tours of the year, they have just taken a surprise win at the box office.  Although many had predicted good things for the terrorism thriller, The Kingdom, a simple father/daughter bonding film moved theatergoers this weekend.

At $22.9 million, The Game Plan took in almost $6 million more than the / vehicle. The movie about a football player who meets the daughter he never knew he had (how exactly is that a Disney storyline?) gave “The Rock” his second best opening (behind 2002’s The Scorpion King).

Meanwhile, Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe made its first entry into the Top 10.  After several weeks in limited release, the musical—which uses 33 Beatles songs to tell its story—will expand into more theaters come October 12th. 

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In Theaters This Weekend (9/28)

The Kingdom

Here are some possible suggestions for your upcoming weekend:

  • The Game Plan (PG):  starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Madison Pettis (directed by Andy Fickman)
  • The Kingdom (R):  starring Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner (directed by Peter Berg)
  • The Darjeeling Limited* (R):  starring Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson (directed by Wes Anderson)
  • Feast of Love* (R):  starring Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear (directed by Robert Benton)
  • Lust, Caution* (NC-17):  starring Tony Leung, Tang Wei (directed by Ang Lee)
  • Outsourced* (PG-13):  starring Larry Pine, Asif Basra (directed by John Jeffcoat)
  • Trade* (R):  starring Kevin Kline, Cesar Ramos (directed by Marco Kreuzpaintner)


*limited or gradual release


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