Weekend Box Office (January 12 - 15, 2007)

*** Golden Globe Winners and Grosses ***

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Powered by young African American women, the new college dance drama Stomp the Yard dominated the North American box office with ease selling more tickets than any other film over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. That bumped Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum and Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness down a notch each after the dynamic duo spent the last three weeks as the top moviegoing choices. The weekend's other new releases were not met with much consumer excitement as the overall marketplace slipped a bit from a year ago.

Stomping into the number one spot over the King frame with $25.9M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend, according to final studio figures, was Stomp the Yard which leaped past all industry expectations. The PG-13 pic about Atlanta college kids engaged in a step dancing competition averaged a loud $12,616 over four days from only 2,051 theaters. Over the past 22 months, only Borat has reached the top spot with fewer theaters. Stomp the Yard was budgeted at only $14M and should become a very profitable venture for Sony and its Screen Gems unit. The companies found similar success two years ago with the surprise urban dance hit You Got Served which bowed in January of that year in the top spot with $16.1M on its way to $40.1M.

According to studio research, black audiences accounted for 65% of all tickets sold for Stomp the Yard contributing about $17M over the four-day span. Females made up a high 59% of the crowd while 62% were over the age of 18. Sony also announced that it would donate 2.5% of the holiday weekend's grosses to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Project Foundation which is developing a monument in Washington D.C. to honor the slain civil rights leader. Stomp racked up a stellar $22M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the frame exceeding the $20.7M bow of last summer's surprise dance hit Step Up which landed Buena Vista $65.3M in grosses. Multicultural teen and young adult audiences have been showing up in huge numbers for these low-cost, no-star dramas that speak to today's MTV generation.

After ruling the box office for three weeks, the effects-driven comedy Night at the Museum slipped to second place but still posted healthy numbers grossing $21.8M over four days. Fox has now collected a hefty $190.5M and saw its three-day tally decline by only 28%. Sliding only 29% was Will Smith's Golden Globe-nominated turn in The Pursuit of Happyness with $10.7M over the long weekend. Sony has banked $138.1M while the popular Museum-Pursuit duo has grossed a stunning $328M together.

Paramount expanded its hit musical Dreamgirls from 852 to 1,907 theaters and climbed a notch into fourth place with $10.3M. The DreamWorks production has taken in $67.1M thus far and expects to cross the $100M mark in the near future. Dreamgirls won the Golden Globe award for Best Picture - Comedy or Musical on Monday night and is looking to secure several Oscar nominations next week which the studio hopes will allow the pic to have legs. The PG-13 film averaged a respectable $5,380 over the four-day period.

The studio also expanded its urban high school drama Freedom Writers from 1,360 to 2,179 sites and ranked fifth with $8.8M. Total stands at $20.2M. Three of the top five films over MLK weekend featured predominantly African American casts while Freedom boasted a multicultural school saga. For the Hollywood film industry, it was a rare sight. However between the King frame and Black History Month, a handful of studios have discovered how to tap into the sizable African American moviegoing audience with the right films in the January-February corridor.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón followed in sixth with his futuristic drama Children of Men which grossed $7.4M for a $22.4M total to date. The Clive Owen thriller was given 299 more theaters, but suffered a slowdown as its three-day average dropped 49% in only its second weekend of wide play. Children has also grossed $32.5M overseas.

The new drug dealer drama Alpha Dog bowed in seventh place with $7.4M from 1,289 locations for a respectable $5,750 average over the Friday-to-Monday period. Justin Timberlake, who conveniently announced his breakup with Cameron Diaz just days before the film opened, stars in the ensemble cast of the R-rated drama. Studio research showed that 56% of the audience was under the age of 25, 53% was female, and 70% was Caucasian. Alpha Dog earned mixed reviews and a B- from CinemaScore which could indicate a rocky road ahead.

The serial killer pic Primeval debuted close behind in eighth place with $6.8M from 2,444 theaters. Despite having the widest release in the freshman class, the R-rated chiller averaged a weak $2,779 for Buena Vista. MGM released The Weinstein Company's kidpic Arthur and the Invisibles but bombed with $5.7M from 2,247 playdates for a poor $2,538 average. The PG-rated adventure featured both live action and animation plus featured the voices of Madonna, Snoop Dogg, and Robert De Niro. Audiences had little interest in either flick.

Rounding out the top ten was Paramount's competing family film Charlotte's Web which took in $5.3M over the long holiday weekend raising its cume to $73.7M.

Sony Classics went nationwide with its Chinese historical epic Curse of the Golden Flower going from 55 sites in limited release to 1,234 theaters across North America but collected a disappointing $2.2M in four days. That gave the Zhang Yimou drama a flimsy average of only $1,775 with a total to date of $4.5M. Moviegoers were more in the mood for dancers stomping than daggers flying.

The top ten films grossed $110.2M over the Friday-to-Monday period which was off 4% from last year when Glory Road opened at number one with $16.9M; and down 19% from 2005 when Coach Carter debuted on top with $29.2M over four days.

Listen to the NEW weekly podcast Projectionz featuring The Hollywood Reporter's Michael Rechtshaffen, Box Office magazine's Wade Major, and BoxOfficeGuru.com's Gitesh Pandya. A new episode is available each Friday for free download from the Apple iTunes Store.

Check the updated charts for the Golden Globe nominee grosses and the Top 50 Blockbusters of 2006. For a review of Children of Men visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Hitcher opens.

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  • # Title Jan 12 - 15 Jan 5 - 7 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
    1 Stomp the Yard $ 25,876,318 2,051 1 $ 12,616 $ 25,876,318 Sony
    2 Night at the Museum 21,847,867 23,743,960 -8.0 3,612 4 6,049 190,503,618 Fox
    3 The Pursuit of Happyness 10,703,352 12,880,926 -16.9 3,169 5 3,378 138,082,302 Sony
    4 Dreamgirls 10,259,911 8,663,380 18.4 1,907 5 5,380 67,101,078 Paramount
    5 Freedom Writers 8,849,005 9,405,582 -5.9 2,179 2 4,061 20,172,832 Paramount
    6 Children of Men 7,449,555 10,197,775 -26.9 1,508 3 4,940 22,415,823 Universal
    7 Alpha Dog 7,411,750 1,289 1 5,750 7,411,750 Universal
    8 Primeval 6,792,318 2,444 1 2,779 6,792,318 Buena Vista
    9 Arthur and the Invisibles 5,702,789 2,247 1 2,538 5,702,789 MGM
    10 Charlotte's Web 5,348,867 6,598,179 -18.9 2,513 5 2,128 73,731,304 Paramount
    11 The Good Shephard 4,346,080 6,446,345 -32.6 1,994 4 2,180 54,704,190 Universal
    12 Happily N'Ever After 4,277,793 6,608,244 -35.3 2,381 2 1,797 11,865,637 Lionsgate
    13 Rocky Balboa 3,336,025 6,017,649 -44.6 1,835 4 1,818 65,600,017 MGM
    14 Blood Diamond 2,874,933 3,822,423 -24.8 1,116 6 2,576 48,199,168 Warner Bros.
    15 Happy Feet 2,866,252 4,004,462 -28.4 1,451 9 1,975 189,052,102 Warner Bros.
    16 We Are Marshall 2,858,355 4,875,400 -41.4 1,804 4 1,584 39,188,707 Warner Bros.
    17 Eragon 2,644,106 4,810,405 -45.0 1,614 5 1,638 70,811,997 Fox
    18 Pan's Labyrinth 2,611,968 763,795 242.0 194 3 13,464 4,834,269 Picturehouse
    19 Curse of the Golden Flower 2,190,075 335,759 552.3 1,234 4 1,775 4,538,871 Sony Classics
    20 Casino Royale 2,010,237 3,002,507 -33.0 819 9 2,455 162,760,504 Sony
    Top 5 $ 77,536,453 $ 64,891,623 19.5
    Top 10 110,241,732 95,437,440 15.5
    Top 20 140,257,556 124,901,406 12.3
    Top 20 vs. 2006 140,257,556 145,298,809 -3.5

    Last Updated : January 16, 2007 at 8:00PM ET

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