Weekend Box Office (February 13 - 16, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Masked killer Jason Voorhees was elected commander-in-chief of the box office over Presidents' Day weekend which posted a new record for the holiday frame thanks to eight different films grossing double digit millions over four days led by the horror remake Friday the 13th which hacked up a sensational debut. The new comedy Confessions of a Shopaholic enjoyed an impressive bow as well while the banking thriller The International saw a lukewarm launch. Most holdovers remained very strong as Valentine's Day falling on the prime moviegoing day of Saturday gave a big boost to multiplex traffic.

Overall, the Top 20 hauled in a stunning $207.7M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Monday period making for the biggest Presidents' Day session on record. And just like last month's record Martin Luther King holiday frame, this weekend saw more business at theaters than last year's Thanksgiving holiday frame.

Fans flocked to theaters to see the updated Friday the 13th spending $43.6M on the horror flick over the four-day holiday weekend, according to final studio figures. Produced by New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures, the R-rated pic was released by Warner Bros. in 3,105 sites and averaged a sensational $14,037 per site oer the Friday-to-Monday span. Paramount released the first eight films in the lucrative franchise's history from 1980 to 1989 and will handle international distribution on the new Friday. It was the biggest opening in history for a pure horror film and the best for any R-rated film since last June's Wanted starring Angelina Jolie bowed to $50.9M. The Friday-to-Sunday portion generated a meaty $40.6M.

Produced for a mere $19M by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, Friday the 13th followed the company's other successful reboots of classic horror hits like 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2005's The Amityville Horror which debuted to $28.1M and $23.5M, respectively. The new Jason pic also powered well ahead of the $26.4M opening of 2007's Halloween remake by Rob Zombie. Friday's release on Friday the 13th helped to make this an event film for genre fans and young adult audiences. The opening day generated a killer $19.4M worth of business, Saturday fell 26% to $14.3M, Sunday dropped 51% to $6.9M, and Monday tumbled by 57% to $3M. Bay is already developing a redo of A Nightmare on Elm Street scheduled for release next year with New Line co-producing and Warners distributing.

The sleeper action hit Taken was close behind in second place taking in $21.8M. With the three-day portion off a scant 8% to $19M, it was the strongest third weekend gross for any film since The Dark Knight narrowly edging out the $18.8M that Quantum of Solace took in during its third frame. Taken has now swiped a stunning $80.5M in just 18 days with much more still to come. The Liam Neeson hit could crack the $100M mark next weekend and will challenge Gran Torino and Paul Blart: Mall Cop for bragging rights to top grossing wide release of the year. All three have shot well beyond expectations.

Following its fantastic opening, the relationship comedy He's Just Not That Into You dropped to third with $21.3M over four days boosting the 11-day total to a robust $56.8M. Like Friday, You was produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. The ensemble hit should make its way to at least $90M domestically and could leap past the $100M mark too.

The 3D stop-motion film Coraline delivered a terrific sophomore frame grossing $18.9M over four days with the Friday-to-Sunday part sliding a mere 9% from its opening frame. Focus has banked an impressive $39.1M in only 11 days and should be headed north of $75M. The PG-rated film featuring the voice of Dakota Fanning has easily been the top choice for families this month.

Striding into fifth place was the comedy Confessions of a Shopaholic which bowed to $17.8M. Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the Buena Vista release averaged a solid $7,104 from 2,507 theaters. The PG-rated film was slammed by critics but connected with its target audience of young women as a whopping 74% of the audience was female. Shopaholic played to a broad age range with 51% being age 25 and under. It was the thirteenth film this year to open north of the $15M mark. The three-day bow was $15.1M.

Yet another PG-rated winner followed. The Kevin James smash Paul Blart: Mall Cop saw its weekend take climb to $13.6M thanks in part to a see-it-again campaign aimed at moviegoers hitting cinemas over the Washington-Lincoln holiday frame. Sony broke the $100M mark on Friday after 29 days of release and the total now sits at $112.4M. James has now outgrossed the latest comedies from many A-listers like Jim Carrey's Yes Man ($96.4M), Will Ferrell's Step Brothers ($100.5M), and both of Adam Sandler's releases from last year Bedtime Stories ($109M) and You Don't Mess With the Zohan ($100M).

The studio's other PG-rated bumbling crime-fighter film The Pink Panther 2 dropped to seventh with $10.8M and enjoyed a good hold thanks to kids having extra time off. But with $24.1M in 11 days, the Steve Martin pic is running 48% behind the pace of its 2006 predecessor which collected $46.5M in the same timeframe on its way to a $82.2M final.

The box office has been churning out hits consistently in 2009. Every weekend this year has been up versus the corresponding frame from 2008 with the exception of Super Bowl weekend which was just a hair behind last year's. Seven wide openers from 2009 have crossed the $50M mark compared to just four last year at this point. The top five films so far this year have collectively grossed an eye-popping $435M which is well ahead of the $329M from last year's five-pack at this same point in time.

Debuting in eighth place with a moderate bow was the banking thriller The International which grossed $10.7M over four days from 2,364 locations for a respectable $4,527 average. Starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, the R-rated action drama earned mixed reviews and played to an older male audience. The Sony film faced a major challenge for that crowd from the durable hit Taken which grossed nearly twice as much this weekend. Produced for $50M, The International drew an audience that was 59% male and 66% over the age of 30.

Fox Searchlight's award-winning Slumdog Millionaire spent its seventh weekend in the top ten and twelfth session in the Top 12. The Danny Boyle hit grossed $8.7M over four days boosting the stellar cume to $88.1M. Slumdog should be just shy of the $100M mark come Oscar night when it competes in nine categories with its ten nominations. The sci-fi actioner Push followed with $8M lifting the cume for Summit up to $20.4M in ten days. A $30M final may result.

Oscar nominees for Best Picture did their best to bring in ticket sales as their time as 'contenders' nears its end. The Reader led the way with $2.7M for a $19.6M sum for The Weinstein Co. Dropping to $1.9M was Paramount's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which lifted the domestic tally to $122.6M. The Sean Penn vehicle Milk fell to $1.1M giving Focus $26.7M to date. Universal's Frost/Nixon took in $645,380 and has banked $16.6M thus far.

The top ten films grossed $175.1M over four days which was up 31% from last year's holiday when Jumper opened in the top spot with $32.1M; and up 7% from 2007 when Ghost Rider debuted at number one with $52M.

Compared to projections, Friday the 13th opened well ahead of my $30M three-day forecast while Confessions of a Shopaholic bowed close to my $17M prediction. The International debuted just a notch below my $11M projection.

For NEW reviews of Friday the 13th and The International visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Madea Goes to Jail and Fired Up! both open.

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

# Title Feb 13 - 16 Feb. 6 - 8 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Friday the 13th $ 43,585,449 3,105 1 $ 14,037 $ 43,585,449 Warner Bros.
2 Taken 21,821,805 20,547,346 6.2 3,109 3 7,019 80,496,557 Fox
3 He's Just Not That Into You 21,329,489 27,785,487 -23.2 3,175 2 6,718 56,797,957 Warner Bros.
4 Coraline 18,851,635 16,849,640 11.9 2,320 2 8,126 39,087,556 Focus
5 Confessions of a Shopaholic 17,809,053 2,507 1 7,104 17,809,053 Buena Vista
6 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 13,574,024 10,884,825 24.7 2,965 5 4,578 112,388,524 Sony
7 The Pink Panther 2 10,767,724 11,588,150 -7.1 3,245 2 3,318 24,088,718 Sony
8 The International 10,702,613 2,364 1 4,527 10,702,613 Sony
9 Slumdog Millionaire 8,705,948 7,177,270 21.3 1,634 14 5,328 88,101,863 Fox Searchlight
10 Push 7,982,366 10,079,109 -20.8 2,313 2 3,451 20,376,794 Summit
11 Gran Torino 7,443,429 7,155,339 4.0 2,303 10 3,232 129,586,801 Warner Bros.
12 Hotel for Dogs 6,117,011 5,711,229 7.1 2,207 5 2,772 62,085,972 Paramount
13 The Uninvited 4,823,792 6,262,651 -23.0 1,803 3 2,675 24,189,555 Paramount
14 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans 2,744,342 4,083,369 -32.8 1,224 4 2,242 43,825,039 Sony
15 The Reader 2,670,837 2,275,489 17.4 742 10 3,600 19,618,951 Weinstein Co.
16 The Wrestler 2,248,161 2,207,555 1.8 667 10 3,371 19,150,945 Fox Searchlight
17 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 1,928,521 2,302,188 -16.2 909 8 2,122 122,573,294 Paramount
18 My Bloody Valentine 3D 1,692,341 1,856,829 -8.9 532 5 3,181 50,693,102 Lionsgate
19 New in Town 1,672,253 3,228,190 -48.2 1,022 3 1,636 14,495,556 Lionsgate
20 Revolutionary Road 1,189,890 1,670,594 -28.8 511 8 2,329 20,522,187 Par. Vantage
Top 5 $ 123,397,431 $ 87,655,448 40.8
Top 10 175,130,106 124,041,046 41.2
Top 20 207,660,683 145,790,069 42.4
Top 20 vs. 2008 207,660,683 156,339,937 32.8

Last Updated: February 17, 2009 at 9:45PM ET