Weekend Box Office (March 28 - 30, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers partied in Las Vegas as the blackjack drama 21 scored a stronger-than-expected number one debut to lead the North American box office with ease. Two-time chart champ Horton Hears A Who was bumped down to the runner-up spot while the frame's other new wide releases posted forgettable opening weekend grosses. Overall the marketplace remained sluggish with moviegoers finding most films not all that appealing.

Kevin Spacey topped the box office this weekend starring and producing 21 which collected $24.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures. Based on a true story of a group of M.I.T. math wizards who devise a scheme to win big in casinos, the Sony release averaged a potent $9,103 from 2,648 theaters. The industry was looking for a somewhat smaller bow so the figure beat out expectations. According to studio research, the PG-13 film played to a broad range of gamblers. Males made up 53% of the audience while those under the age of 25 made up 53%. Reviews were not very good but moviegoers responded to the slick marketing and the story.

After two weeks at number one, the Dr. Seuss animated blockbuster Horton Hears A Who dropped down to second place but still posted healthy numbers. The Fox toon slipped only 28% from Easter weekend and collected $17.7M raising the cume to $117.6M after 17 days. Horton became the first film of 2008 to crack the century mark on Friday, its 15th day of release. A trajectory towards the $150M barrier still looks likely.

MGM distributed The Weinstein Company's spoof comedy Superhero Movie and was met with a lukewarm reception in third place. The PG-13 film about a young man who gains super powers from a dragonfly grossed $9.5M from 2,960 locations for a mild $3,213 average. It was the widest release among the four new offerings. The performance came in between the solid $18.5M of January's Meet the Spartans and the dismal $5.6M of last October's The Comebacks. Both were spoof comedies which have become all too common in today's marketplace.

Tyler Perry's latest tale Meet the Browns suffered a steep fall in its second weekend dropping 63% to $7.5M. With $32.5M collected in the first ten days, the Lionsgate title should find its way to about $45-50M making it the second lowest-grossing picture of the director's string of five films.

The Paramount comedy Drillbit Taylor held up moderately well in its sophomore session falling 45% to $5.7M for a $20.5M cume. Look for a $35M finish to the domestic run of the Owen Wilson starrer. The horror pic Shutter followed with $5.2M, down 50%, for a ten-day total of $19M. A $30M final should result. Warner Bros. saw its prehistoric actioner 10,000 BC capture $4.9M for seventh place, down 45%, lifting the overall take to $85M.

Debuting in eighth place with little strength was the soldier drama Stop-Loss which took in $4.6M from 1,291 sites. Averaging only $3,528, the Paramount release stars Ryan Phillippe as a war veteran who returns to his hometown after serving his country. The R-rated film also features Channing Tatum and Abbie Cornish and targeted the teen and young adult crowd. Like most recent films with themes connected to war, paying customers were hard to find. Reviews were the best among the weekend's new titles, but not spectacular.

Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone enjoyed a great hold for their comedy College Road Trip which eased just 26% to $3.5M pushing Disney's cume to $38.3M. Rounding out this weekend's unremarkable top ten was the heist thriller The Bank Job which fell 34% in its fourth round to $2.8M. Cume sits at $24.1M. The Jason Statham hit has been that rare action film to show durable legs.

Debuting outside of the top ten was the Simon Pegg comedy Run, Fat Boy, Run which bowed to $2.3M from a not-so-wide 1,133 locations. Averaging a disappointing $2,066 per venue, the Picturehouse release generated little excitement with ticket buyers.

The top ten films grossed $85.5M which was down a troubling 24% from last year when Blades of Glory opened at number one with $33M; and down a disturbing 33% from 2006 when Ice Age: The Meltdown debuted in the top spot with $68M.

Compared to projections, 21 surged well ahead of my $15M forecast while Superhero Movie failed to reach my $14M prediction. Stop-Loss and Run, Fat Boy, Run both debuted a bit below my respective projections of $6M and $4M.

For a NEW review of 21 and DVD reviews of I Am Legend, Enchanted, and No Country For Old Men visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Leatherheads, Nim's Island, The Ruins, and Shine A Light all open nationwide.

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

# Title Mar 28 - 30 Mar 21 - 23 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 21 $ 24,105,943 2,648 1 $ 9,103 $ 24,105,943 Sony
2 Horton Hears A Who 17,740,106 24,590,596 -27.9 3,826 3 4,637 117,589,254 Fox
3 Superhero Movie 9,510,297 2,960 1 3,213 9,510,297 MGM
4 Meet the Browns 7,481,508 20,082,809 -62.7 2,016 2 3,711 32,549,825 Lionsgate
5 Drillbit Taylor 5,713,585 10,309,986 -44.6 3,061 2 1,867 20,487,226 Paramount
6 Shutter 5,221,016 10,447,559 -50.0 2,756 2 1,894 18,998,604 Fox
7 10,000 B.C. 4,947,174 8,934,064 -44.6 3,055 4 1,619 84,992,525 Warner Bros.
8 Stop-Loss 4,555,117 1,291 1 3,528 4,555,117 Paramount
9 College Road Trip 3,457,756 4,697,683 -26.4 2,270 4 1,523 38,322,829 Buena Vista
10 The Bank Job 2,780,168 4,191,773 -33.7 1,605 4 1,732 24,084,605 Lionsgate
11 Never Back Down 2,359,406 4,827,250 -51.1 1,869 3 1,262 21,249,499 Summit
12 Run, Fat Boy, Run 2,340,743 1,133 1 2,066 2,340,743 Picturehouse
13 Vantage Point 2,301,751 3,805,541 -39.5 1,739 6 1,324 69,250,231 Sony
14 Under the Same Moon 2,250,081 2,770,000 -18.8 390 2 5,769 6,674,433 Weinstein Co.
15 The Other Boleyn Girl 1,271,544 2,038,236 -37.6 1,119 5 1,136 24,933,952 Sony
16 Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day 1,151,400 1,481,593 -22.3 516 4 2,231 9,397,977 Focus
17 The Spiderwick Chronicles 753,637 1,205,418 -37.5 659 7 1,144 69,399,646 Paramount
18 Fool's Gold 578,206 953,068 -39.3 640 8 903 68,102,984 Warner Bros.
19 Doomsday 555,245 2,249,880 -75.3 888 3 625 10,587,205 Universal
20 Juno 485,416 769,842 -36.9 444 17 1,093 141,976,542 Fox Searchlight
Top 5 $ 64,551,439 $ 74,365,014 -13.2
Top 10 85,512,670 94,657,261 -9.7
Top 20 99,560,099 106,791,035 -6.8
Top 20 vs. 2007 99,560,099 123,288,200 -19.2

Last Updated: March 31, 2008 at 11:00PM ET

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