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Box Office Breakdown: Christmas Carol Wins, Precious Soars

Disney's A Christmas Carol

We’re still weeks away from Thanksgiving, but theatergoers already have Christmas on their minds.

, the umpteenth version of the Charles Dickens tale, brought the story back to life with a visual rendition. Robert Zemeckis’ latest holiday creation earned over $30 million, surpassing Polar Express’ open by $7 million. Although the Jim Carrey film didn’t come close to its reported $180 million budget, Carol still has weeks to go before Avatar takes over 3D screens.

Meanwhile, a film with no bells or whistles made an impact just outside the Top 10. , Sundance’s Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize winner, broke a record while in limited release. The 12th place entry averaged a whopping $104,025 this weekend over only 18 theaters. That’s the largest per screen average for any film opening in more than 10 locations.

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Box Office Breakdown: That Was It for Paranormal Activity

Michael Jackson's This Is It

Based on the numbers from the past week, it looks like This Is It should remain in theaters longer than two weeks. Oh wait - it will.

Since opening late Tuesday night, the concert film has generated a total of $34.4 million domestically - $23.2 million just over the weekend - and approximately $101 worldwide. Although Michael Jackson technically didn’t beat the opener for Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour (that entry earned more over 5 days), had the best international debut ever for any concert film.

Sony’s win meant a short victory for . After a steady climb, and only 1 week at the top, the horror film slipped down to second place. Of course, the word-of-mouth hit has nothing to complain about. Not only has the movie grossed $84.6 million to date, it also had the best per screen average of any Top 10 charter.

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Box Office Breakdown: Saw Outdone by Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity

Have audiences seen enough Saw?

Although Jigsaw is known for slaying his competition, the serial killer was no match for Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat. This weekend, those two unknowns saw their small project, , finally top the box office charts. The movie, which was produced for approximately $15,000, reached that position after a steady climb up the ranks. (Aren’t films supposed to go down?) The horror flick also had a higher per screen average than any entry in the Top 10 despite fewer engagements.

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Box Office Breakdown: The Wild Things Are #1

Where the Wild Things Are

Who knew a 10-sentence long story could do so well?

It may have taken over three years for Where the Wild Things Are to officially debut, but the long journey was apparently worth the wait. The Spike Jonze project, which was once rumored to be too scary for children, finally unfolded over the weekend and soared to first place. The Maurice Sendak adaptation, which earned approximately $32.7 million, also gave Warner Bros. its best October open ever.

Even though Gerard Butler didn’t bother to promote during his recent Saturday Night Live stint, the film managed to survive on its own. The actioner, which also starred Jamie Foxx, raked in just over $21 million and won a close race for 2nd place. Meanwhile, word-of-mouth hit Paranormal Activity grossed another $19.6 million and moved up one rung to the third spot.

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Box Office Breakdown: Audiences Escape to Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat

Depending on how you look at the numbers, the winner this weekend was either or Paranormal Activity.

In the comedy corner, we have a Peter Billingsley-directed film that earned $35.3 million and a first-place finish. The movie - which combined the efforts of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman - pulled in the best numbers for any Columbus Day weekend entry ever. It also gave Vaughn his 2nd best opening behind The Break-Up.

Meanwhile, on the horror front, made a huge splash despite being in limited release. The Blair Witch-esque movie scared up a shocking $49,000 per screen average. It also raked in nearly 500 times more than its budget. (It only cost less than $16,000 to produce.)

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In Theaters This Weekend: October 9, 2009

Couples Retreat

Here are a few selections in theaters this weekend:

  • Couples Retreat (PG-13): starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau (directed by Peter Billingsley)
  • Adventures of Power* (PG-13): starring Adrian Grenier, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Jean-Louis (directed by Ari Gold)
  • Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story* (NR): starring Eddie Izzard (directed by Sarah Townsend)
  • Bronson* (R): starring Tom Hardy, Matt King, James Lance (directed by Nicolas Winding Refn)
  • The Damned United* (R): starring Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall (directed by Tom Hooper)

Click to continue reading In Theaters This Weekend: October 9, 2009


Vince Vaughn Finds Work After Rejection

Vince Vaughn

started writing scripts to get acting work.

The Couples Retreat actor says he is grateful for the number of rejections he has received throughout his career as it wouldn’t have made him consider writing screenplays as well as starring in front of camera. He said:

“It something that I’ve done forever uncredited. Even on Return to Paradise, I wrote a lot of the stuff in that. I’ve never taken credit. It was just my approach. “I remember a moment in time, when I was talking to [Jon] Favreau, and I said, ‘Man, I’m so tired of sitting around and waiting for parts to come. No one’s hiring me, but there’s no material.’ I was waiting for material that I would do. I couldn’t get hired for anything. I was just an out-of-work actor. ‘I said, ‘We should really write stuff,’ and then he wrote Swingers, and we got to improvise and do stuff. I really got my wings, in that moment, and took it upon myself. Sometimes rejection in an area, at the time, can seem hard, but it can actually be a gift because it forces you to get better at things that you weren’t initially considering doing.”

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Box Office Breakdown: Audiences Say Yes to Jim Carrey

Yes Man

How will remember Winter Solstice 2008? As the weekend he placed second.

Prior to Friday’s premieres, number crunchers were already predicting a close race between headliners Jim Carrey and Will Smith. Unfortunately for Warner Bros., ‘s ultimate victory felt slightly hollow. The comedy’s $18.2 million gross was nowhere near the figures Carrey used to generate. (Bruce Almighty‘s premiere earned $68 million in 2003; Liar Liar took in $31.4 million in 1997.) Yes did, though, do better than 2005’s Fun with Dick and Jane. (That film raked in $14.1 million during its open.)

Will Smith didn’t have much to celebrate over the last three days either. His latest film, , only took in $14.8 million. That’s a number almost unheard of in Smith-land. The drama, directed by Pursuit of Happyness’ Gabriele Muccino, was the actor’s lowest grosser since Ali. (That film earned $14.7 million when it debuted in December 2001.)

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Box Office Breakdown: The Day The Earth Stood Still Stands Tall

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Mediocre reviews couldn’t keep from vaulting into first place this weekend.

The sci-fi remake starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly earned $30.5 million over the last three days, more than doubling the take of its nearest competitor. Although Earth had the smallest debut for a #1 film since October 17th (when Max Payne grossed $17.6 million), the Fox feature only cost a reported $80 million to make. It was also the studio’s best open since Horton Hears a Who unfolded in back in March.

The only other new entries in this week’s Top Ten were Nothing Like the Holidays and . Holidays took in $3.5 million and scored itself a 7th place finish. Meanwhile, Milk - which had actually reached #10 before - reentered the charts at #9.

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Box Office Breakdown: Another Festive Weekend for Four Christmases

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon

Faced with little competition, last week’s #1 lived to see another win. took in $16.8 million over the last three days - a 46% drop from its first outing - to bring its cumulative total to $69.8 million. The comedy was only one of two films to pass the $10 million mark this weekend.

The only new entries in the Top Ten were and Punisher: War Zone. Despite a relatively small opening (it only hit 687 theaters), Cadillac averaged $5,015 per theater for a 9th place finish. Meanwhile, Punisher took in a disappointing $4.3 million, less than 1/3 of what the first film did in 2004.

Despite premiering at #22, was actually this weekend’s top performer. Ron Howard’s film earned a whopping $60,236 per screen average from only 3 theaters.

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