Weekend Box Office (February 1 - 3, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Tween girls sacked the competition over Super Bowl weekend as the music pic Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert shattered records and opened at number one at the North American box office. Debuting in second with solid results of its own was the Jessica Alba creepfest The Eye, but the comedies Over Her Dead Body and Strange Wilderness debuted outside of the top ten with more modest results. Overall, the marketplace stayed strong with the top ten beating year-ago levels by more than 30% for the third consecutive weekend.

Shooting higher than the loftiest of expectations, Disney's Hannah Montana film commanded a sizzling $31.1M in ticket sales this weekend, according to final studio figures, from only 683 theaters for an eye-popping $45,561 average setting a new record for the Super Bowl frame. Presented in digital 3D cinemas, with 96% of the sites featuring RealD technology, the grosses were boosted by most exhibitors charging $15 per ticket instead of the usual admission charges. Still, the G-rated film more than doubled its nearest competitor and sold out over a thousand showtimes during the weekend. The release was not as wide as other films since Disney was limited to only those auditoriums equipped with the necessary facilities to project in digital 3D.

Hannah Montana set a number of new box office milestones although asterisks will need to be added to the record books since it had the advantage of the higher-priced tickets. It was the largest opening ever over Super Bowl weekend beating the $21.6M of 2006's horror entry When a Stranger Calls, and the largest overall weekend gross over this frame surpassing Titanic which banked $25.2M in 1998 in its sixth weekend. The gross for the iceberg romance would be over $36M at today's regular prices. Hannah also set the record for the smallest amount of theaters for a film debuting at number one.

Best of Both Worlds offered fans many reasons to rush out and grab a seat. Given the star's 69-city sold-out concert tour, the film allowed Hannah lovers an easier way to see their favorite singer locally without having to get parents to buy scalped tickets. Add in the digital 3D presentation and the promotion of an exclusive one-week-only run and ticket buyers wasted no time in making sure they got their stubs and showed up. An event film was born. Due to the incredible demand, the studio has now announced that the film will be open-ended and will play beyond the initial seven-day run.

Sales were exceptional right out of the gate with Friday delivering a stunning $8.6M in business. Saturday saw incredible strength with matinee business from kids going on their parents' first day off from work with sales surging an amazing 52% to $13.1M. Sunday dropped by a mere 28% to $9.4M. Most studios suffered larger-than-normal declines of 60-70% on Sunday because of the Super Bowl.

Studio research indicated few surprises in the audience turnout. Females made up a whopping 84% of the crowd and those under the age of 25 accounted for 70%. Reviews were generally upbeat for the trim 74-minute concert film which allowed theaters to schedule plenty of showtimes over the weekend to absorb demand.

Hollywood's annual Super Bowl weekend horror offering had to settle for the runnerup prize. The Eye, a remake of a Hong Kong horror hit with Jessica Alba anchoring the U.S. version, bowed to $12.4M from 2,436 locations for a solid $5,101 average. The PG-13 pic about a blind violinist who gains supernatural visions of death after an eye transplant played slightly more to young women as the audience was 56% female, according to studio research. Lionsgate grossed $4.9M on Friday, edged up 16% to $5.7M on Saturday, and fumbled 69% on Sunday to $1.8M. The Eye debuted with more than twice as much as Alba's last thriller Awake ($5.9M) and was close to the $13.7M launch of her recent romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck.

Fox's 27 Dresses held steady in third place and played as a great non-football alternative for women by grossing $8.5M in its third weekend. Katherine Heigl's hit comedy dipped by just 36%. Cume for Dresses now sits at $57.2M. Another funny gal from the Fox stable, Oscar nominee and Entertainment Weekly covergirl Ellen Page, rose a notch to sizth with Juno which collected $7M, off only 31%, for a robust $109.8M total.

The studio's spoof comedy Meet the Spartans tumbled by 60% in its second session and placed fourth with $7.3M. Budgeted at $18M, the PG-13 laugher has taken in $28.5M in ten days and should conclude with $40-45M putting it in the same neighborhood as the creative team's Epic Movie which grossed $39.7M at this same exact time last year. Close behind was Sylvester Stallone's action pic Rambo with $7.1M falling a similar 61% from its debut. Lionsgate has taken in $29.9M in ten days and may finish with close to $45M.

Taking in $6.7M was the Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman joint venture The Bucket List which slipped 36% pushing the cume to $67.5M for Warner Bros. Diane Lane's crime thriller Untraceable suffered a sizable sophomore slump falling 55% to $5.1M for a sum of $19.1M after ten days. Produced for over $30M, the R-rated pic is set to end with a mediocre $30-35M.

Cloverfield crumbled another 62% in its third weekend to $4.8M giving Paramount $71.9M to date. The studio's specialty division Paramount Vantage expanded its Academy Award contender There Will Be Blood from 885 to 1,507 theaters and rounded out the top ten with $4.7M. Off a scant 4%, the Daniel Day-Lewis drama upped its total to $21M.

A pair of new comedies opened to disappointing results outside of the top ten. Eva Longoria Parker headlined the pic Over Her Dead Body and bowed to $4M from 1,977 sites for a weak $2,036 average. The New Line release about a ghost who haunts her fiance's new squeeze marked the first headlining role in a feature film for the Desperate Housewives star. Paramount Classics countered with the nature flick Strange Wilderness starring Steve Zahn which debuted to just $3M. The R-rated title averaged only $2,485 from 1,208 locations. Both films were trashed by critics, to nobody's surprise.

Two other films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The Nicolas Cage blockbuster sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets took in $3M, off 40%, for a $209.8M cume after its seventh session. The adventure saga ranks as the ninth biggest hit released in 2007 and will surpass 300's $210.6M by the end of the week to climb one more spot. Look for Book of Secrets to conclude with $215-218M domestically representing a 25% increase over the first National Treasure's $173M from 2004. Worldwide, Secrets has already hauled in over $375M to date.

Not collecting as much treasure was the heist comedy Mad Money which fell 57% to $2M in its third weekend. With $18.5M in 17 days, the Overture Films release should finish with roughly $22M.

The top ten films grossed $94.8M which was up a sensational 44% from last year when The Messengers opened at number one with $14.7M; and up 24% from 2006 when When a Stranger Calls debuted in the top spot with $21.6M.

Compared to projections, Hannah Montana surged well ahead of my $17M forecast while The Eye bowed very close to my $14M prediction. Over Her Dead Body was close to my $6M projection and Strange Wilderness was on target with my $3M forecast.

Check the NEW updated Film Database with box office grosses for films released over the last twenty years.

View the updated chart for this year's Oscar nominees and box office grosses. For a review of Cloverfield visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when the star-driven comedies Fool's Gold and Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins both premiere.

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

# Title Feb 1 - 3 Jan 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus $ 31,117,834 683 1 $ 45,561 $ 31,117,834 Buena Vista
2 The Eye 12,425,776 2,436 1 5,101 12,425,776 Lionsgate
3 27 Dresses 8,529,845 13,360,535 -36.2 2,976 3 2,866 57,245,093 Fox
4 Meet the Spartans 7,336,595 18,505,530 -60.4 2,643 2 2,776 28,543,340 Fox
5 Rambo 7,120,649 18,203,876 -60.9 2,764 2 2,576 29,918,795 Lionsgate
6 Juno 7,014,579 10,151,100 -30.9 2,475 9 2,834 109,828,029 Fox Searchlight
7 The Bucket List 6,725,460 10,532,406 -36.1 2,915 6 2,307 67,546,573 Warner Bros.
8 Untraceable 5,076,537 11,354,069 -55.3 2,368 2 2,144 19,127,089 Sony
9 Cloverfield 4,842,031 12,712,134 -61.9 3,007 3 1,610 71,915,658 Paramount
10 There Will Be Blood 4,654,162 4,869,383 -4.4 1,507 6 3,088 21,038,955 Par. Vantage
11 Over Her Dead Body 4,025,115 1,977 1 2,036 4,025,115 New Line
12 Strange Wilderness 3,001,719 1,208 1 2,485 3,001,719 Par. Classics
13 National Treasure: BOS 2,963,552 4,916,131 -39.7 1,733 7 1,710 209,792,593 Buena Vista
14 Atonement 2,939,806 3,918,160 -25.0 1,367 9 2,151 42,123,146 Focus
15 Alvin and the Chipmunks 2,783,913 4,512,318 -38.3 1,958 8 1,422 207,623,154 Fox
16 No Country For Old Men 2,201,984 2,423,409 -9.1 1,273 13 1,730 55,148,960 Miramax
17 Mad Money 1,975,628 4,578,394 -56.8 1,665 3 1,187 18,527,409 Overture
18 Michael Clayton 1,733,342 2,225,260 -22.1 1,010 18 1,716 44,126,122 Warner Bros.
19 First Sunday 1,471,998 3,305,950 -55.5 1,015 4 1,450 36,587,404 Sony
20 How She Move 1,471,110 3,957,471 -62.8 1,461 2 1,007 6,082,832 Par. Vantage
Top 5 $ 66,530,699 $ 74,136,144 -10.3
Top 10 94,843,468 109,183,558 -13.1
Top 20 119,411,635 135,214,754 -11.7
Top 20 vs. 2007 119,411,635 82,487,627 44.8

Last Updated: February 4, 2008 at 7:00PM ET

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