Weekend Box Office (February 8 - 10, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Comedy and adventure collided at the North American box office and delivered a number one opening for Fool's Gold starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Martin Lawrence's new comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins enjoyed a solid second place finish, but the standup concert film Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Tour bombed in its opening finishing well outside the Top 20.

Uncovering the most treasure, Fool's Gold premiered in the top spot over the weekend with $21.6M from 3,125 theaters for a strong $6,909 average, according to final studio figures. The debut for the Warner Bros. release was below the $23.8M opening that the two actors generated for their romantic comedy How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days which launched five years ago this weekend. That figure would be roughly $27M at today's ticket prices.

The $70M-budgeted Gold, which features the stars as an estranged couple reuniting to hunt for sunken treasure, was panned by critics and received some of the worst reviews of any film released in this new year. Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama) directed. In the half-decade since 10 Days came out, Hudson has been absent from the box office throne while McConaughey headlined two number one openers - 2005's adventure Sahara and 2006's romantic comedy Failure to Launch.

Debuting in second place with a nearly identical performance on a per-theater basis was the Martin Lawrence-led comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins with $16.2M from 2,387 locations for a solid $6,790 average. The Universal release played in 738 fewer theaters than Fool's Gold. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother), the PG-13 film tells of a famous talk show host who returns to his childhood home for the 50th anniversary of his parents and reconnects with family and friends. Cedric the Entertainer, James Earl Jones, Michael Clarke Duncan, Mike Epps, and Mo'Nique co-star.

Produced for $35M, Roscoe Jenkins generated an opening similar to last month's First Sunday which was another comedy led by an African American cast. That pic which starred Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan bowed to $17.7M from 2,213 theaters and is headed for a finish of just under $40M. According to Fox research, Roscoe's audience was 52% female and 52% over the age of 30.

Despite its A grade from CinemaScore, Disney's Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds plunged 67% in its second weekend to $10.3M ranking third for the frame. The G-rated concert film played in only 687 theaters and still averaged a sizzling $14,987 per location and boosted its ten-day cume to a fantastic $53.2M. Hannah Montana was originally promoted as a one-week-only event and racked up record pre-sales over the past two months so it was expected to absorb most of the demand in the first seven days. The studio announced last Sunday that it would extend the run. With a reported budget of $7M, the 3D tween sensation could climb to an astounding $70M. Most theaters are charging an extra-high $15 per ticket.

Jessica Alba's horror pic The Eye held up reasonably well in its second weekend falling 48% to $6.5M. The $22M Lionsgate title has grossed $21.4M in ten days and should see itself ending up in the neighborhood of $35M.

More female starpower followed as a pair of funny ladies from Fox ranked fifth and sixth. Oscar contender Juno slipped only 20% to $5.6M and boosted its cume to an amazing $117.5M. The wise-cracking pregnant teen is the eldest stateswoman in the top ten having just entered her tenth weekend. Eight of those frames were spent in the top ten. Katherine Heigl's 27 Dresses dropped only 37% to $5.4M and pushed its sum to $65.1M.

Hot on the trail of those young ladies were a bunch of old geezers. 70-year-old superstars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman watched their hit film The Bucket List collect $5.3M, off just 22%, for a cume of $75M for Warner Bros. Not far behind was 61-year-old action star Sylvester Stallone with Rambo which fell 37% to $4.5M giving Lionsgate a tally of $36.9M.

Fox's spoof comedy Meet the Spartans was off by 44% to $4.1M and reached a total of $34M. The Daniel Day-Lewis oil saga There Will Be Blood expanded and saw its weekend milkshake dip by just 15%. Paramount Vantage has taken in $26.7M to date with much more expected in the weeks ahead as moviegoers catch up on high profile Academy Award contenders.

Opening miserably outside of the top ten was the standup comedy doc Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Tour which debuted to $464,170 from 962 locations for an embarrassingly low $483 average. Scoring an opening weekend average of just three digits is never a good thing. The R-rated Picturehouse release follows the comic actor and his group of standup comedians on their tour across several states.

Grossing a similar amount of money from just a tiny fraction of the theaters was the Colin Farrell hitman drama In Bruges which bowed in just 28 locations to $457,227 for a solid $16,330 average. Focus will expand the R-rated film hoping to capitalize on the publicity it generated from its opening night slot at Sundance. Reviews were mostly encouraging.

A pair of studio flicks fell from the top ten this weekend. Sony's gory crime thriller Untraceable dipped 32% to $3.5M in its third session and raised its total to $24.3M. Budgeted at over $30M, the Diane Lane vehicle should finish up with a decent $30-35M. The $25M camcorder-style thriller Cloverfield dropped 43% in its fourth frame to $2.8M for Paramount. With $76M banked to date, the disaster film looks to reach $80-83M by the end of its domestic run giving the studio a nice moneymaker. Cloverfield remains the top-grossing new release of 2008.

All five Oscar nominees for Best Picture enjoyed strong holds with declines of 29% for Atonement, 20% for Juno, 15% for There Will Be Blood, and 14% for Michael Clayton. Frontrunner No Country For Old Men was the only one to not drop, inching up 1%. All films are spending aggressively on advertising to take advantage of their nods in the marketplace.

The top ten films grossed $83.5M which was off 4% from last year when Norbit opened at number one with $34.2M; and down 15% from 2006 when The Pink Panther debuted in the top spot with $20.2M.

Compared to projections, Fool's Gold opened very close to my $23M forecast while Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins debuted a couple of notched below my $20M prediction. Vince Vaughn came in below my $3M projection.

Check the NEW updated Opening Weekends page with the top debuts for films released over the last twenty years. For a NEW review of Fool's Gold and NEW DVD reviews of The Assassination of Jesse James, The Brave One, and Gone Baby Gone visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Spiderwick Chronicles, Jumper, Step Up 2 The Streets, and Definitely, Maybe all open.

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

# Title Feb 8 - 10 Feb 1 - 3 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Fool's Gold $ 21,589,295 3,125 1 $ 6,909 21,589,295 Warner Bros.
2 Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins 16,207,730 2,387 1 6,790 16,207,730 Universal
3 Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus 10,295,922 31,117,834 -66.9 687 2 14,987 53,177,568 Buena Vista
4 The Eye 6,528,301 12,425,776 -47.5 2,470 2 2,643 21,418,982 Lionsgate
5 Juno 5,601,149 7,014,579 -20.1 2,321 10 2,413 117,506,107 Fox Searchlight
6 27 Dresses 5,409,671 8,529,845 -36.6 2,841 4 1,904 65,078,461 Fox
7 The Bucket List 5,277,433 6,725,460 -21.5 2,753 7 1,917 74,995,446 Warner Bros.
8 Rambo 4,482,012 7,120,649 -37.1 2,717 3 1,650 36,876,490 Lionsgate
9 Meet the Spartans 4,110,561 7,336,595 -44.0 2,446 3 1,681 33,950,850 Fox
10 There Will Be Blood 3,978,322 4,654,162 -14.5 1,620 7 2,456 26,687,605 Par. Vantage
11 Untraceable 3,475,325 5,076,537 -31.5 2,143 3 1,622 24,320,956 Sony
12 Cloverfield 2,756,462 4,842,031 -43.1 2,030 4 1,358 76,040,905 Paramount
13 No Country For Old Men 2,214,933 2,201,984 0.6 1,202 14 1,843 58,263,567 Miramax
14 National Treasure: BOS 2,150,147 2,963,552 -27.4 1,256 8 1,712 212,752,399 Buena Vista
15 Atonement 2,077,827 2,939,806 -29.3 1,190 10 1,746 45,209,036 Focus
16 Alvin and the Chipmunks 1,823,016 2,783,913 -34.5 1,465 9 1,244 209,927,879 Fox
17 Over Her Dead Body 1,744,524 4,025,115 -56.7 1,977 2 882 6,770,455 New Line
18 Michael Clayton 1,495,438 1,733,342 -13.7 757 19 1,975 46,180,687 Warner Bros.
19 Strange Wilderness 1,485,874 3,001,719 -50.5 1,211 2 1,227 5,557,275 Par. Classics
20 U2 3D 737,711 714,927 3.2 61 3 12,094 3,098,063 National Geo.
Top 5 $ 60,222,397 $ 66,530,699 -9.5
Top 10 83,480,396 94,843,468 -12.0
Top 20 103,441,653 119,411,635 -13.4
Top 20 vs. 2007 103,441,653 102,987,490 0.4

Last Updated: February 11, 2008 at 10:30PM ET

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