Saturday Update

The flawed superheroes of Watchmen seized control of the North American box office on Friday grossing an estimated $24.3M on opening day from 3,611 theaters including 124 Imax venues. The towering figure marked the best first-day haul of any film since last November's Twilight which bowed to a stronger $36M Friday on its way to a stunning $69.6M weekend. Watchmen's opening day tally included an estimated $4.6M from Thursday night shows beginning at midnight. The Friday take was 14% below the $28.1M of director Zack Snyder's last film 300 which bowed this same weekend and eventually reached $70.9M over three days setting a new record March debut.

The one-day tally was impressive considering the film's R rating, nearly-three-hour running time, and the fact that it was not a sequel or based on a universally known property. Watchmen performed just like the comic flick Hulk from 2003 which bowed to $24.3M in its first day leading to a $62.1M weekend with Friday accounting for 40% of the frame. Rorschach and company may be more front-loaded this weekend putting Warner Bros. in a position to collect $57-61M over the Friday-to-Sunday period for Watchmen. In the world of comic book openers, it should fall somewhere in between the two Hulk films (last summer's The Incredible Hulk reboot debuted to $55.4M).

Holding onto the number two spot was Tyler Perry's latest hit Madea Goes to Jail which dropped 47% from last Friday to an estimated $2.5M. Lionsgate should bank $7-9M for the weekend. Fox's action thriller Taken still held up well in its sixth session dipping only 21% to an estimated $2.3M on Friday. A weekend figure of $7-9M seems likely as well making it a tight race for the runnerup spot over the three-day period.

Among holdovers, Friday-to-Friday declines were 41% for Slumdog Millionaire, 31% for He's Just Not That Into You, and a steep 83% for Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Overall, the box office this weekend should exceed last year's by roughly 15% continuing its current hot streak.

Be sure to check the NEW chart of the all-time biggest March openings.

For NEW reviews of Watchmen and 13B, visit The Chief Report.

Check back on Sunday for the complete weekend box office report.

Last Updated: March 7, 2009 at 10:15AM ET

Written by Gitesh Pandya