Weekend Box Office (January 11 - 13, 2008)

*** 2008 Golden Globe Winners and Grosses ***

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Senior citizen superstars grabbed control of the North American box office as the end-of-life tale The Bucket List starring Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman opened nationally after a limited run and took over the number one spot. Ice Cube delivered very solid results for his new comedy First Sunday which debuted close behind in second place giving the marketplace some new blood after a three-week stretch when mostly the same titles held the top positions on the charts. Overall, moviegoers spent nearly $100M on the top ten films and kept the box office going strong.

Director Rob Reiner scored his first number one opener in over fifteen years with The Bucket List which debuted to a healthy $19.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures, to lead all films. The PG-13 pic expanded nationwide into 2,911 theaters after two weeks of exclusive runs in only 16 sites and averaged a sturdy $6,662 per location this weekend. The story of two dying men who set out to fulfill their final wishes received mixed reviews from critics but was welcomed with open arms by the paying public. It was the director's first trip to the box office throne since 1992's A Few Good Men which also starred Nicholson.

The Bucket List was one of four films that Warner Bros. placed in the top ten. The studio's four-pack accounted for 39% of all tickets sold for the top ten movies. Add in the cash from its limited run and Bucket has collected $20.8M thus far. In today's youth-skewing marketplace, it is rare to see a film anchored by two 70-year-old men hit the top of the box office.

Ice Cube proved once again how reliable of a draw he is with comedy with his latest venture First Sunday which opened a close second with $17.7M while playing in 700 fewer theaters than Bucket. The PG-13 pic about a pair of petty criminals who plot to rob a neighborhood church broke into 2,213 theaters and averaged a potent $8,005. It was the best average of any film in wide release. Sunday gave Cube the fourth best opening weekend of his career after the pair of Barbershop hits, which bowed to $20.6M for the first installment in 2002 and $24.2M for the 2004 sequel, as well as 2005's Are We There Yet's $18.6M.

First Sunday looks to be another moneymaker for the rapper-turned-actor as well as for Sony's Screen Gems unit. The $20M production skewed to a 54% female audience while 63% was between the ages of 18 and 39, according to studio research. With late-night talk shows back in production, stars Cube and Tracy Morgan were among the first actors to go back out and promote their films using those valuable marketing vehicles.

Fox Searchlight expanded its hit comedy Juno again adding 523 locations and slipped a spot to third place with $13.6M. That represented a drop in gross of only 14% from last weekend and a 32% decline in the per-theater average to $5,561. The cume to date has reached $70.9M and on Monday the ensemble hit will surpass the $71.5M of Sideways to become the top grossing film ever for Searchlight. Juno now looks on course to reach at least $110M domestically making it a highly profitable picture considering its production budget of less than $10M.

The holiday season's awesome threesome followed. National Treasure: Book of Secrets claimed the number four spot in its fourth weekend with $11.3M. Down 44%, the Buena Vista adventure sequel boosted its cume to $187.1M and stands as Nicolas Cage's top-grossing movie ever.

Fox's kidpic Alvin and the Chipmunks collected $9.3M, off 40%, for a $187.9M tally to date. Close behind was Will Smith who saw his sci-fi smash I Am Legend drop 48% to $8.2M for a stellar cume of $240.3M for Warner Bros. Together, the trio has grossed a jaw-dropping $615M and counting just from North America over the last month.

The supernatural thriller One Missed Call dropped down to seventh losing 52% from last weekend for $6M in ticket sales. Warner Bros. has scared up a respectable $20.5M in ten days and should be headed for a finish of roughly $35M. The studio's romantic drama P.S. I Love You continued to score with women not interested in the NFL playoffs and slipped only 38% to $4.8M. Cume to date is a solid $46.8M.

Universal opened the new animated film The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything to the tune of $4.3M. The G-rated adventure from The VeggieTales franchise averaged a decent $3,180 from 1,337 theaters. The debut was weaker than the $6.2M and $6,597 average of Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie which bowed in October 2002. Rival kidpic Alvin and the Chipmunks grossed twice as much as Pirates this weekend despite being in its fifth weekend of release.

Two big awards contenders from the Universal family followed. The Keira Knightley period romance Atonement, which won the Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama, took in $4.2M, off 17%, for a $25.1M cume to date. Focus continued to expand the film going from 583 to 950 playdates. Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman saw their latest film Charlie Wilson's War fall 49% to $4.1M pushing Universal's total to $59.4M. War is the second lowest grossing film for Hanks over the past ten years ahead of only The Ladykillers which swiped $39.7M in 2004.

Opening poorly outside of the top ten was the adventure tale In the Name of the King starring Jason Statham which bowed to just $3M. Attacking 1,632 sites, the videogame-inspired pic averaged a weak $1,829 and failed to attract sizable interest from its young male target audience. Freestyle Releasing handled the distribution for the PG-13 film.

Two films fell out of the top ten this weekend. The Johnny Depp musical revenge tale Sweeney Todd dropped 39% to $3.4M boosting its sum to $44.1M. The $50M DreamWorks/Warner Bros. co-production took home the Golden Globe for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy and should end its domestic run with $50-55M. Sony's fantasy adventure The Water Horse fell 47% to $3.3M for a $35.2M total. Look for a $40-45M finish.

The Golden Globe-winning turn by Daniel Day-Lewis in the oil baron saga There Will Be Blood remained a muscular contender in limited release. The Paramount Vantage/Miramax co-production grossed $1.9M from 129 sites for a powerful $14,421 average in its third weekend. The acclaimed drama widened from 51 theaters and will roll out to 375-400 locations this Friday in its first major test in wider national play. Total is $4.3M.

The top ten films grossed $98.8M which was up a sturdy 9% from last year when Stomp the Yard opened at number one with $21.8M; and up 7% from 2006 when Glory Road debuted in the top spot with $13.6M. Both of those years were helped by the Martin Luther King holiday which this year falls a week later on the calendar.

Compared to projections, both The Bucket List and First Sunday opened stronger than my respective forecasts of $15M and $12M. The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything debuted very close to my $5M prediction while In the Name of the King bowed below my $6M projection.

View the updated charts for the 2008 Golden Globe Winners.and Top 20 Blockbusters of 2007.

For DVD reviews of Halloween and National Treasure visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Cloverfield, 27 Dresses, and Mad Money all open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Jan 11 - 13 Jan 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Bucket List $ 19,392,416 326,786 2,911 3 $ 6,662 $ 20,816,129 Warner Bros.
2 First Sunday 17,714,821 2,213 1 8,005 17,714,821 Sony
3 Juno 13,612,682 15,860,744 -14.2 2,448 6 5,561 70,862,478 Fox Searchlight
4 National Treasure: Book of Secrets 11,302,002 20,062,684 -43.7 3,377 4 3,347 187,114,947 Buena Vista
5 Alvin and the Chipmunks 9,302,895 15,546,125 -40.2 3,384 5 2,749 187,943,374 Fox
6 I Am Legend 8,179,610 15,717,458 -48.0 3,353 5 2,439 240,283,451 Warner Bros.
7 One Missed Call 5,981,373 12,511,473 -52.2 2,240 2 2,670 20,493,337 Warner Bros.
8 P.S. I Love You 4,827,212 7,834,467 -38.4 2,323 4 2,078 46,830,324 Warner Bros.
9 The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything 4,251,320 1,337 1 3,180 4,251,320 Universal
10 Atonement 4,221,866 5,064,577 -16.6 950 6 4,444 25,130,656 Focus
11 Charlie Wilson's War 4,129,720 8,106,250 -49.1 2,408 4 1,715 59,353,790 Universal
12 Sweeney Todd 3,385,171 5,536,538 -38.9 1,323 4 2,559 44,053,400 Paramount
13 The Water Horse 3,332,323 6,230,489 -46.5 2,506 3 1,330 35,206,965 Sony
14 In the Name of the King 2,984,524 1,632 1 1,829 2,984,524 Freestyle
15 The Great Debaters 2,345,375 4,250,948 -44.8 1,290 3 1,818 25,633,630 MGM
16 The Orphanage 2,015,605 500,671 302.6 707 3 2,851 3,159,345 Picturehouse
17 There Will Be Blood 1,860,333 1,321,144 40.8 129 3 14,421 4,277,973 Par. Vantage
18 Enchanted 1,805,534 3,807,523 -52.6 1,201 8 1,503 122,392,372 Buena Vista
19 Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem 1,803,056 4,484,155 -59.8 1,378 3 1,308 40,383,929 Fox
20 The Kite Runner 1,604,411 1,647,029 -2.6 715 5 2,244 10,938,680 Par. Classics
Top 5 $ 71,324,816 $ 79,698,484 -10.5
Top 10 98,786,197 112,470,805 -12.2
Top 20 124,052,249 135,432,097 -8.4
Top 20 vs. 2007 124,052,249 114,851,110 8.0

Last Updated: January 14, 2008 at 10:45PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.