Weekend Box Office (March 16 - 18, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Three new competitors were no match for the mighty action epic 300 which easily defended its box office crown to rule North American theaters for a second straight time. Sandra Bullock reached a new career high with the thriller Premonition which debuted in third place while the horror film Dead Silence and the Chris Rock comedy I Think I Love My Wife opened in the top five with mixed results. 300 grossed as much as all three new releases combined.

It was another decisive victory for Warner Bros. as 300 commanded the top spot with $32.9M in its second weekend, according to final studio figures, dropping a sizable 54% from its record launch. Averaging a stellar $10,054 from 3,270 locations, the R-rated historical actioner raised its ten-day tally to a remarkable $129.2M making it the top-grossing film of 2007 in a very short period of time.

300's second weekend gross was even bigger than the opening weekends for recent R-rated spring actioners like Sin City, Constantine, and V for Vendetta. Those films all dropped by more than half in their sophomore frames and collected 66-69% of their final grosses in the first ten days. 300 could follow in the same pattern and reach a colossal $180-190M domestically. That would be an impressive tally for a film with an estimated production cost of $60-65M.

Overseas, the Spartan sensation scored number one openings this weekend in South Korea, Turkey, Thailand, Hong Kong, and India and grossed an estimated $15.6M overall from over 1,300 screens in 13 markets. The international total stands at $24.6M with major invasions scheduled this week in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Buena Vista held steady in second place again with the motorcycle comedy Wild Hogs which dropped only 31% to $19.1M in its third weekend. The Tim Allen-John Travolta hit crossed the $100M mark on Sunday in its 17th day of release pushing the cume to $104.2M. Despite dreadful reviews, Wild Hogs is holding up very well and could find its way to a sensational $150M domestically.

Sandra Bullock scared up the biggest opening of her career with the supernatural thriller Premonition which collected $17.6M to land in third place. The PG-13 film about a woman who relives a day in her life and tries to prevent the death of her husband averaged a solid $5,672 from 2,831 venues. Reviews were mostly negative for the Sony release. Premonition, Bullock's first spooky thriller, beat out her previous best opening weekend performance of $16.2M which was generated by both Speed 2 in 1997 and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in 2002. Adult women as expected led the way for the $20M production with studio research showing that 66% of the audience was female and 61% were 25 or older.

Universal scared up a decent opening for its new horror entry Dead Silence which debuted in 1,805 theaters to $7.8M. Averaging a moderate $4,345 per location, the R-rated film about a ventriliquist's dummy on a deadly rampage was marketed as being from the director of Saw, James Wan. Reviews were not too bad for a fright flick not screened in advance for critics and actually scored the best marks of the weekend's three new releases.

Chris Rock saw a mild opening for his new comedy I Think I Love My Wife which bowed to $5.7M from 1,776 locations for a $3,195 average. The Fox Searchlight release was written, directed, and produced by the former Oscar host who also played the lead, a mild-mannered husband tempted by a lovely young woman. Reviews were mostly negative. The opening for Wife failed to reach the heights of some of Rock's other spring comedies like 2001's Down to Earth ($17.3M, $6,850 average) or 2003's Head of State ($13.5M, $6,278 average), which he also directed.

Disney's Bridge to Terabithia enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten dipping just 23% in its fifth weekend to $5.2M for a solid $75M cume. Sony actioner Ghost Rider fell 37% to $4.2M lifitng the domestic total to $110.4M. Worldwide, the Nicolas Cage film will surpass the $200M mark later this week.

Paramount's acclaimed serial killer drama Zodiac continued to struggle with paying customers tumbling another 51% to $3.3M giving the David Fincher thriller a disappointing $29.1M in 17 days. The critically-panned Eddie Murphy comedy Norbit, on the other hand, has been pleasing audiences and dropped 35% to $2.8M pushing the cume to $92.4M for the studio. Rounding out the top ten was the Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore comedy Music and Lyrics with $2.3M, down 39%, giving Warner Bros. $47.4M to date.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The slave trade drama Amazing Grace had strong legs once again and slipped just 15% to $2.1M. With $14.5M in the bank, the Samuel Goldwyn/Roadside Attractions release could end its run with $20M or more. Universal's FBI thriller Breach has found success with its moderate release. The PG-13 entry grossed $1.5M, off 41%, for a $31.4M total while playing in roughly 1,500 theaters during the past month. A $34M final seems likely. Jim Carrey's horror flick The Number 23 has grossed $33.9M to date and should finish with a not-so-impressive $36M overall.

In limited release, the best per-theater average of any film once again came from Fox Searchlight's The Namesake which expanded from six to 41 theaters and grossed $715,026 for a strong $17,440 per location. The total for the well-reviewed Mira Nair film has reached $1.1M and the Indian-American drama will widen to over 100 theaters this Friday. Also doing well in limited play was the foreign language Oscar winner The Lives of Others which took in $802,380. The German film dipped only 6% with no extra theaters and Sony Classics has grossed $4.6M to date.

The top ten films grossed $100.7M which was up 12% from last year when V for Vendetta opened at number one with $25.6M; but off 2% from 2005 when The Ring 2 debuted on top with $35.1M.

For reviews of 300 and The Host visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Shooter, The Hills Have Eyes 2, TMNT, Reign Over Me, Pride, and The Last Mimzy all cram into multiplexes everywhere.

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

# Title Mar 16 - 18 Mar 9 - 11 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 300 $ 32,877,328 $ 70,885,301 -53.6 3,270 2 $ 10,054 $ 129,165,656 Warner Bros.
2 Wild Hogs 19,058,871 27,601,291 -30.9 3,360 3 5,672 104,226,868 Buena Vista
3 Premonition 17,558,689 2,831 1 6,202 17,558,689 Sony
4 Dead Silence 7,842,725 1,805 1 4,345 7,842,725 Universal
5 I Think I Love My Wife 5,674,802 1,776 1 3,195 5,674,802 Fox Searchlight
6 Bridge to Terabithia 5,192,153 6,779,315 -23.4 3,091 5 1,680 74,967,513 Buena Vista
7 Ghost Rider 4,176,658 6,670,463 -37.4 2,824 5 1,479 110,378,574 Sony
8 Zodiac 3,287,560 6,641,870 -50.5 2,362 3 1,392 29,137,557 Paramount
9 Norbit 2,766,593 4,278,099 -35.3 2,016 6 1,372 92,438,806 Paramount
10 Music and Lyrics 2,272,317 3,744,084 -39.3 1,850 5 1,228 47,448,875 Warner Bros.
11 The Number 23 2,149,452 4,082,292 -47.3 2,201 4 977 33,917,402 New Line
12 Amazing Grace 2,111,589 2,478,036 -14.8 1,162 4 1,817 14,457,029 Goldwyn / Roadside
13 Breach 1,487,705 2,505,640 -40.6 1,277 5 1,165 31,366,800 Universal
14 Night at the Museum 839,927 922,474 -8.9 610 13 1,377 246,092,265 Fox
15 The Lives of Others 802,380 852,558 -5.9 218 6 3,681 4,591,077 Sony Classics
16 The Ultimate Gift 801,452 1,241,079 -35.4 800 2 1,002 2,528,371 Fox Faith
17 The Namesake 715,026 248,552 187.7 41 2 17,440 1,076,544 Fox Searchlight
18 Black Snake Moan 665,525 1,884,690 -64.7 862 3 772 8,744,995 Par. Vantage
19 Happy Feet 616,334 622,496 -1.0 490 18 1,258 196,561,994 Warner Bros.
20 Daddy's Little Girls 584,914 1,229,553 -53.2 467 5 1,252 31,068,283 Lionsgate
Top 5 $ 83,012,415 $ 118,578,240 -30.0
Top 10 100,707,696 135,666,391 -25.8
Top 20 111,480,548 146,363,124 -23.8
Top 20 vs. 2006 111,480,548 98,960,753 12.6

Last Updated : March 19, 2007 at 7:30PM ET

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