Weekend Box Office (February 23 - 25, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage ruled Oscar weekend with his skull-on-fire motorcycle actioner Ghost Rider which held steady at number one in North America for the second straight time. Moviegoers delivered different verdicts to the handful of new releases led by the Jim Carrey thriller The Number 23 which fared best and debuted in second place. Overall, the top ten was about even with the corresponding weekends from the last two years.

Dropping 56% from its powerful opening weekend, Ghost Rider took in $20.1M over the weekend, according to final studio figures, and pushed its ten-day tally to a sensational $79M. The big-budget Sony actioner adapted from the popular Marvel comic book series suffered a decline similar to that of 2003's Daredevil which sank 55% in its second frame after an explosive bow over Presidents' Day weekend. That super hero flick captured 68% of its domestic total in the first ten days. Ghost Rider is so far following the same path which means a final gross of $115-120M seems likely.

Comedy guru Jim Carrey took a stab at horror with his new psychological thriller The Number 23 and saw moderate results with a $14.6M launch. Playing in 2,759 theaters, the R-rated film averaged $5,293 per location for New Line. Critics were brutal to the scary pic, but the opening fared better than those of most of Carrey's previous non-comedies.

Disney's Bridge to Terabithia dropped 37% in its sophomore adventure and pulled in $14.2M in ticket sales. The PG-rated fantasy has banked an impressive $46.8M in ten days and may be heading for around $75M overall.

Fox saw a not-so-arresting debut for its cop comedy Reno 911!: Miami which opened in fourth place with $10.3M. The R-rated feature adapted from the moderately successful Comedy Central series averaged a mild $3,802 from a wide release in 2,702 theaters. By comparison, openings for other recent R-rated comedies based on popular television properties include $26.5M for Borat and $29M for Jackass: Number Two, both of which bowed at number one.

Eddie Murphy's comedy Norbit dropped 41% to $9.8M in its third weekend raising its total to $74.8M for Paramount. Warner Bros. followed with its own comedy Music and Lyrics which pulled in $7.7M in its sophomore weekend. Down a reasonable 44%, the Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore pic has taken in $31.7M in 12 days and could be headed for the $50M mark.

Universal's Breach dipped 43% in its second weekend to $6M. With $20.3M in ten days, the FBI thriller is on course for a $35M total. The Tyler Perry comedy Daddy's Little Girls lost half of its audience in the second weekend just like the director's last two February comedies. The Lionsgate release grossed $4.8M, down 57%, and has taken in $25.1M. Both Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion made about 75% of their total grosses in the first ten days so a $35M final for Girls seems likely.

A pair of new releases rounded out the top ten. Warner Bros. saw a dismal opening for its Billy Bob Thornton drama The Astronaut Farmer which grossed $4.5M from 2,155 locations. Averaging a poor $2,067 per theater, the PG-rated film earned mixed reviews from critics.

Goldwyn's historical slave trade drama Amazing Grace enjoyed a solid bow with $4.1M from only 791 sites for a respectable $5,126 average. Reviews were mostly favorable.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The runaway smash Night at the Museum collected $2.2M in its tenth weekend and upped its total to $241.6M putting it at number 44 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of My Big Fat Greek Wedding which made $241.4M in 2002. Museum fell 41% this weekend and should go on to reach around $246M domestically and over $500M worldwide.

Universal's Diane Keaton comedy Because I Said So grossed $2.8M, down 46%, putting its cume at a decent $38.3M. A final gross of $43-45M seems likely. Sony's thriller The Messengers grossed $1.6M, tumbling 58%, for a $33.4M cume. The $16M production should conclude with a healthy $35M. MGM's Hannibal Rising has grossed about $26M to date and should end its run with only $30M.

The top ten films grossed $95.9M which was up less than 1% from last year when Madea's Family Reunion opened at number one with $30M; but off 3% from 2005 when Diary of a Mad Black Woman debuted on top with $21.9M.

For a NEW review of The Number 23 visit The Chief Report. Check the updated box office chart for this year's Academy Award Nominees.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Wild Hogs, Zodiac, and Black Snake Moan all open wide.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Feb 23 - 25 Feb 16 - 18 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Ghost Rider $ 20,067,443 $ 45,388,836 -55.8 3,620 2 $ 5,543 $ 79,027,540 Sony
2 The Number 23 14,602,867 2,759 1 5,293 14,602,867 New Line
3 Bridge to Terabithia 14,157,645 22,564,612 -37.3 3,139 2 4,510 46,805,679 Buena Vista
4 Reno 911!: Miami 10,273,477 2,702 1 3,802 10,273,477 Fox
5 Norbit 9,825,021 16,775,831 -41.4 3,145 3 3,124 74,763,394 Paramount
6 Music and Lyrics 7,652,433 13,623,630 -43.8 2,955 2 2,590 31,715,552 Warner Bros.
7 Breach 5,994,950 10,504,990 -42.9 1,493 2 4,015 20,304,675 Universal
8 Daddy's Little Girls 4,815,337 11,210,754 -57.0 2,111 2 2,281 25,132,757 Lionsgate
9 The Astronaut Farmer 4,454,319 2,155 1 2,067 4,454,319 Warner Bros.
10 Amazing Grace 4,054,542 791 1 5,126 4,054,542 Goldwyn/Roadside
11 Because I Said So 2,758,815 5,099,910 -45.9 1,936 5 1,425 38,269,240 Universal
12 Night at the Museum 2,170,661 3,704,724 -41.4 1,371 10 1,583 241,640,806 Fox
13 Hannibal Rising 1,706,165 5,418,106 -68.5 1,596 3 1,069 25,863,475 MGM
14 The Messengers 1,603,570 3,763,570 -57.4 1,492 4 1,075 33,400,113 Sony
15 Pan's Labyrinth 1,278,430 2,214,586 -42.3 682 9 1,875 32,356,624 Picturehouse
16 The Queen 1,105,665 1,315,201 -15.9 662 22 1,670 52,862,098 Miramax
17 Dreamgirls 835,251 1,591,017 -47.5 593 11 1,409 101,233,784 Paramount
18 The Last King of Scotland 783,758 884,895 -11.4 334 22 2,347 14,009,273 Fox Searchlight
19 The Abandoned 782,000 1,000 1 782 782,000 After Dark
20 Letters From Iwo Jima 707,311 1,022,590 -30.8 530 10 1,335 12,834,854 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 68,926,453 $ 109,563,663 -37.1
Top 10 95,898,034 138,054,963 -30.5
Top 20 109,629,660 150,234,237 -27.0
Top 20 vs. 2006 109,629,660 110,641,995 -0.9

Last Updated : February 26, 2007 at 5:15PM ET

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