Weekend Box Office (February 6 - 8, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The new romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You featuring an all-star cast including Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck was the top choice with North American moviegoers. Last weekend's top entry, the kidnapping thriller Taken, showed incredible strength in its second frame taking second place thanks to a very low decline. The new 3D animated pic Coraline debuted powerfully in third while The Pink Panther 2 followed in fourth with an uneventful bow. The actioner Push earned respectable numbers in its launch putting it in the number six slot. Overall, the box office was once again on fire as the Top 20 films grossed $146M surging an amazing 41% above year-ago levels.

The New Line comedy He's Just Not That Into You scored big points with the date crowd grossing $27.8M in its opening weekend, according to final studio figures. Released by Warner Bros., the PG-13 film based on the popular self-help book averaged a stellar $8,751 from 3,175 locations. It was the third best wide opening of 2009 after Paul Blart: Mall Cop's $31.8M and Gran Torino's $29.5M. For New Line, You is yet another box office winner following its collapse into its parent company last year. Sex and the City, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Four Christmases all came from the former mini-major and each crossed $100M domestically. Warners made sure in its marketing reach to not just target women, but to promote to men and couples as well. The broad appeal helped to raise the grosses, as did the star power and with Valentine's Day still coming up the film should collect healthy business in the first two weeks.

Liam Neeson's kidnapping thriller Taken may have dropped to second place this weekend, but the Fox hit held up exceptionally well dipping only 17% to $20.5M. That was a remarkable performance for an action film and now gives the PG-13 pic a shot at reaching $100M. Taken has taken in $53.6M in its first ten days, but will face direct competition this Friday when Sony's bank thriller The International debuts.

The 3D stop-motion animated film Coraline opened impressively in third place with $16.8M. Focus averaged a solid $7,329 from 2,299 theaters and proved once again how moviegoers are rushing out to theaters and paying those higher ticket prices to see films in three dimensions. With helmer Henry Selick not being a household name, the PG-rated Coraline instead was promoted as being from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas which over the last decade and a half has become a modern classic spawning recent 3D re-releases around Halloween time. With the Presidents' Day holiday next weekend and many schools taking winter breaks in February, the Dakota Fanning-voiced pic should be able to enjoy a healthy run in the weeks ahead. This weekend, a whopping 60% of the total gross came from Real D's 3D screens.

Families weren't exactly cheering the arrival of a new Inspector Clouseau film. The Pink Panther 2 debuted in fourth place with $11.6M falling 43% short of the $20.2M first place bow of its 2006 predecessor which also launched in early February. Sony's comedy sequel stumbled into 3,243 locations and averaged a mild $3,573 per site. This new installment reunited Steve Martin, Jean Reno, and Emily Mortimer while adding new cast members Andy Garcia, John Cleese, Alfred Molina, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The previous Panther went on to gross an impressive $80.2M in North America and $159M worldwide prompting the development of a sequel. Reviews were harsh.

Kevin James enjoyed another great weekend as Paul Blart: Mall Cop grossed an estimated $10.9M in its fourth frame declining just 22%. That gives Sony a sensational $96.9M to date. The sci-fi thriller Push posted a moderate opening landing in sixth place with $10.1M. Summit's first release since the blockbuster Twilight averaged a decent $4,358 from 2,313 sites.

Slumdog Millionaire became the second biggest grosser in Fox Searchlight history this weekend thanks to $7.2M take. Down a scant 6%, the Oscar contender upped its cume to $77.2M surpassing the $71.5M of Sideways and now only trails Juno's $143.5M on the distributor's all-time list of hits. Clint Eastwood followed closely with Gran Torino which collected $7.2M, down 13%, for a stellar $120.2M cume to date.

Falling 39% in its sophomore frame, the teen fright flick The Uninvited grossed $6.3M giving Paramount $18.2M in ten days. A $30-35M final seems likely. The studio's kidpic Hotel for Dogs dropped 34% to $5.7M and followed in tenth. Total stands at $55.1M.

Four of the five Oscar nominees for Best Picture tried to reach film aficionados outside of the top ten, although their combined weekend grosses failed to match Slumdog's. Paramount's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took in $2.3M, off 35%, and lifted its tally to $120M. Dropping a mere 4% to $2.3M was Kate Winslet's The Reader which has banked $16M thus far for The Weinstein Co. Focus watched its pic Milk take in $1.1M, off 24%, for a $25.3M sum. Frost/Nixon fell 45% to $771,985 giving Universal $15.7M to date.

The top ten films grossed $124.3M which was up 49% from last year when Fool's Gold opened in the top spot with $21.6M; and up 43% from 2007 when Norbit debuted at number one with $34.2M.

Compared to projections, He's Just Not That Into You and Coraline both opened above my respective forecasts of $22M and $9M. The Pink Panther 2 debuted well below my $20M prediction while Push was on target with my $10M projection.

For a NEW review of The Pink Panther 2 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Friday the 13th, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and The International all debut.

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

# Title Feb. 6 - 8 Jan 30 - Feb 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 He's Just Not That Into You $ 27,785,487 3,175 1 $ 8,751 $ 27,785,487 Warner Bros.
2 Taken 20,547,346 24,717,037 -16.9 3,184 2 6,453 53,610,944 Fox
3 Coraline 16,849,640 2,299 1 7,329 16,849,640 Focus
4 The Pink Panther 2 11,588,150 3,243 1 3,573 11,588,150 Sony
5 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 10,884,825 13,872,751 -21.5 3,169 4 3,435 96,886,687 Sony
6 Push 10,079,109 2,313 1 4,358 10,079,109 Summit
7 Slumdog Millionaire 7,177,270 7,628,713 -5.9 1,724 13 4,163 77,203,055 Fox Searchlight
8 Gran Torino 7,155,339 8,232,278 -13.1 2,705 9 2,645 120,195,197 Warner Bros.
9 The Uninvited 6,262,651 10,325,824 -39.3 2,344 2 2,672 18,242,141 Paramount
10 Hotel for Dogs 5,711,229 8,632,740 -33.8 2,734 4 2,089 55,125,062 Paramount
11 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans 4,083,369 7,581,272 -46.1 2,042 3 2,000 39,841,908 Sony
12 New in Town 3,228,190 6,741,530 -52.1 1,941 2 1,663 11,856,481 Lionsgate
13 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 2,302,188 3,544,251 -35.0 1,478 7 1,558 119,950,285 Paramount
14 The Reader 2,275,489 2,380,376 -4.4 862 9 2,640 16,033,070 Weinstein Co.
15 The Wrestler 2,207,555 2,313,149 -4.6 754 9 2,928 16,170,788 Fox Searchlight
16 My Bloody Valentine 3D 1,856,829 4,479,662 -58.5 671 4 2,767 48,182,383 Lionsgate
17 Revolutionary Road 1,670,594 2,674,320 -37.5 935 7 1,787 18,738,643 Par. Vantage
18 Bride Wars 1,500,029 3,524,896 -57.4 1,097 5 1,367 56,244,349 Fox
19 Defiance 1,393,322 2,503,514 -44.3 858 6 1,624 25,196,967 Par. Vantage
20 Inkheart 1,231,458 3,721,492 -66.9 1,175 3 1,048 14,885,535 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 87,655,448 $ 65,780,630 33.3
Top 10 124,041,046 95,933,299 29.3
Top 20 145,790,069 118,686,019 22.8
Top 20 vs. 2008 145,790,069 103,441,653 40.9

Last Updated: February 9, 2009 at 7:00PM ET