Weekend Box Office (March 21 - 23, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Families ruled over the Easter holiday frame as the G-rated laughs of the Dr. Suess toon Horton Hears A Who once again proved to be the most popular game in town. The Fox hit spent a second week at number one and fended off competition from a handful of new films. Among the new releases, films with multicultural casts delivered the most impressive averages. Tyler Perry's latest hit Meet the Browns bowed in second place while the Latino drama Under the Same Moon opened in limited release but was still strong enough to crack the top ten. Each pic averaged more than $10,000. The spookfest Shutter and the bodyguard comedy Drillbit Taylor were met with lukewarm openings and landed in the top five. Overall, it was the worst Easter weekend box office in three years.

The vocal talents of Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell led Horton to $24.6M in ticket sales this weekend, according to final studio figures, and represented a rather sizable 45% decline. The animated comedy was helped by the Good Friday holiday but still posted a larger sophomore drop than other non-sequel March toons from Fox and Blue Sky Studios. 2002's Ice Age fell 35% while Robots dropped 42% in 2005. Plus neither film had any Easter help on the sophomore session. After ten days of release, Horton has taken in a solid $86M which is just 2% behind Ice Age at the same point in its release but 30% ahead of Robots. Given the elephant pic's warm reception with critics and audiences, the relative lack of new competitors, and the holiday, a smaller decline was expected. But despite the big drop, the Seuss extravaganza still should finish its domestic run in the neighborhood of $150M.

Tyler Perry secured the runnerup spot with his latest effort Meet the Browns which opened to $20.1M. The filmmaker's fifth release in four years enjoyed the second highest per-theater average of any film in the top ten with a robust $10,011 from 2,006 locations. The PG-13 film stars Angela Bassett and debuted in the same range as Perry's last film Why Did I Get Married? which bowed to $21.4M last October from a similar number of theaters. It did not have the Good Friday holiday to help its opening weekend though.

Opening a little better than expected, Fox's horror flick Shutter debuted in third with $10.4M from 2,753 sites. The remake of a Thai fright hit averaged a mediocre $3,795 and played to a young female audience. The studio kept the marketing volume low until the final week before release when it made an aggressive push at its target demo. Joshua Jackson stars in Shutter as an American photographer in Tokyo who discovers haunting images in his snapshots. Reviews were dismal.

Owen Wilson's latest comedy Drillbit Taylor posted a mild opening in fourth place taking in $10.3M from 3,056 theaters. Averaging just $3,374 per site, the PG-13 pic about a bum hired by nerdy high school freshmen to be a bodyguard played to a tween and teen audience. Reviews were negative for the Paramount release which proved that without other major stars at his side (Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Jackie Chan), Owen Wilson is no sure thing at the box office.

The caveman flick 10,000 BC ranked fifth with $8.9M, down 47%, for a cume to date of $76.4M for Warner Bros. Summit's first in-house production Never Back Down dropped an acceptable 44% in its second weekend and grossed $4.8M. With $16.8M collected in ten days, the $20M fight pic looks to reach roughly $25M by the end of its theatrical run.

Disney's family comedy College Road Trip slipped 40% to $4.7M in its third frame and raised its tally to $32.1M. Moviegoers continued to spread good word-of-mouth for the Jason Statham heist actioner The Bank Job which dipped only 17% to $4.2M for a $19.5M total. The Lionsgate release posted the smallest decline in the top ten two weeks in a row. Yet another action film followed in ninth with Sony's Vantage Point which took in $3.8M, down just 30%, for a $65.3M cume.

The immigration drama Under the Same Moon debuted to strong numbers in limited release and landed in the top ten right at the ten spot. The Weinstein Company's PG-13 film grossed $2.8M from only 266 locations and averaged a sturdy $10,414 per site. It scored the best average in the Top 20 edging out Meet the Browns. Since its Wednesday launch, the Sundance Film Festival audience favorite and its mostly Latino cast has taken in a solid $3.5M. Fox Searchlight marketed the Spanish-language title while Weinstein handled distribution duties.

The top ten films grossed $94.7M which was down 10% from last year's Easter frame when Blades of Glory led the field with $22.5M; and down 12% from 2006's holiday when Scary Movie 4 debuted in the top spot with $40.2M.

Compared to projections, Meet the Browns debuted a bit below my $23M forecast. Shutter opened ahead of my $8M prediction while Drillbit Taylor came in a little behind my $12M projection.

For a NEW review of Drillbit Taylor and DVD reviews of I Am Legend, Enchanted, No Country For Old Men, and 30 Days of Night visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when 21, Superhero Movie, Stop Loss, and Run, Fat Boy, Run all debut.

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

# Title Mar 21 - 23 Mar 14 - 16 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Horton Hears A Who $ 24,590,596 $ 45,012,998 -45.4 3,961 2 $ 6,208 $ 86,010,517 Fox
2 Meet the Browns 20,082,809 2,006 1 10,011 20,082,809 Lionsgate
3 Shutter 10,447,559 2,753 1 3,795 10,447,559 Fox
4 Drillbit Taylor 10,309,986 3,056 1 3,374 10,309,986 Paramount
5 10,000 B.C. 8,934,064 16,773,312 -46.7 3,454 3 2,587 76,401,302 Warner Bros.
6 Never Back Down 4,827,250 8,603,195 -43.9 2,729 2 1,769 16,790,361 Summit
7 College Road Trip 4,697,683 7,810,400 -39.9 2,575 3 1,824 32,073,003 Buena Vista
8 The Bank Job 4,191,773 5,054,961 -17.1 1,613 3 2,599 19,521,672 Lionsgate
9 Vantage Point 3,805,541 5,462,747 -30.3 2,124 5 1,792 65,300,784 Sony
10 Under the Same Moon 2,770,000 266 1 10,414 3,496,710 Weinstein Co.
11 Doomsday 2,249,880 4,926,565 -54.3 1,938 2 1,161 8,976,970 Universal
12 The Other Boleyn Girl 2,038,236 2,882,846 -29.3 1,188 4 1,716 22,557,175 Sony
13 Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day 1,481,593 1,940,781 -23.7 531 3 2,790 7,542,124 Focus
14 The Spiderwick Chronicles 1,205,418 2,335,238 -48.4 1,226 6 983 67,793,487 Paramount
15 Semi-Pro 1,152,569 3,043,162 -62.1 1,144 4 1,007 32,279,215 New Line
16 Fool's Gold 953,068 1,688,262 -43.5 1,011 7 943 67,073,779 Warner Bros.
17 Jumper 939,906 2,025,810 -53.6 862 6 1,090 77,553,504 Fox
18 Race 802,254 96 1 8,357 802,254 UTV
19 Juno 769,842 1,192,817 -35.5 603 16 1,277 141,099,121 Fox Searchlight
20 Step Up 2 The Streets 541,008 1,531,231 -64.7 640 6 845 56,715,909 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 74,365,014 $ 83,662,652 -11.1
Top 10 94,657,261 101,905,424 -7.1
Top 20 106,791,035 113,655,707 -6.0
Top 20 vs. 2007 106,791,035 130,085,946 -17.9

Last Updated: March 24, 2008 at 9:45PM ET

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