Weekend Box Office (April 4 - 6, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Despite the launches of three new wide releases, the blackjack drama 21 held onto the number one spot at the North American box office during a sluggish session that saw some of the worst grosses of the year. Universal's George Clooney-Renee Zellweger football comedy Leatherheads and Fox's Abigail Breslin-Jodie Foster family adventure Nim's Island fought fiercely over the number two spot, but the latter prevailed when final numbers were reported on Monday. The marketplace slumped to its second worst performance of the year as a lack of exciting films forced people to look elsewhere for their weekend entertainment.

Sony enjoyed a very good hold for its Kevin Spacey gambling flick 21 which dropped only 36% from its opening to $15.3M. After ten days, the PG-13 film has won $46.8M and looks on its way to cash out with $80-85M. The story of MIT math wizards who spend their weekends winning big money in Las Vegas was helped by the fact that most of the new openers had little appeal to its core audience of teens and young adults. 21 narrowly edged out Will Ferrell's basketball flop Semi-Pro for having the smallest gross for a number one film this year.

Fox and Fox Walden attracted an opening weekend gross of $13.2M for its adventure tale Nim's Island starring Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, and Gerard Butler. The PG-rated family film launched ultrawide in 3,513 locations and averaged a lukewarm $3,760 per site. The audience was 60% female and split evenly between those over and under 25. Budgeted at $37M, Nim's connected with its core audience of young girls and their moms, but lacked the muscle to make it a strong box office performer. The final gross was a slender $100,000 below the $13.3M estimate from Sunday.

Expected by many in the industry to open at the top in the mid to high teens, George Clooney's starring and directing vehicle Leatherheads collected only $12.7M during its kickoff frame. That was a hefty $800,000 less than Sunday's aggressive estimate of $13.5M. The PG-13 film about a love triangle between a reporter and two football players in the 1920s landed in 2,769 theaters and averaged a decent $4,580 falling short of expectations. Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski also star. Carrying a $58M pricetag, the Universal release proved to be a disappointment for the studio and loudly told Hollywood something that the rest of America has known for years - that Clooney and Zellweger are not A-list stars. Moviegoers don't rush out and pay top dollar to see their films.

Leatherheads was one of the oldest-skewing films of the year. Studio research showed that a remarkably high 75% of the audience was over the age of 30 and that more than half were over the age of 40. Females made up 54% of the crowd. A lack of starpower, uninteresting subject matter, and a wave of bad reviews all contributed to the lackluster debut. With the exception of the Ocean's films which boast tons of stars, most movies starring Clooney have not opened well.

2008's most popular film Horton Hears A Who dropped down to fourth place in its fourth weekend with $9.1M. Down 49%, the PG-rated comedy lifted its total to a robust $131.1M after 24 days. Compared to Fox's previous March toons, Horton is running 7% behind the pace of 2002's Ice Age but 26% ahead of 2005's Robots.

The DreamWorks horror entry The Ruins debuted in fifth place with only mild results. Distributed by Paramount, the R-rated film grossed $8M from 2,812 locations for a weak $2,846 average. The frightfest about a group of Americans finding ancient terror in Cancun continued the diminishing returns seen by this year's crop of horror titles. January's One Missed Call bowed to $12.5M, February's The Eye opened to $12.4M, while last month's Shutter launched with $10.4M. All of those were remakes of Asian chillers and were rated PG-13.

The spoof comedy Superhero Movie had a moderate sophomore hold dropping 43% to $5.4M. The MGM/Weinstein Co. film has grossed $16.9M in ten days and should finish with $25-30M.

Lionsgate's latest Tyler Perry offering Meet the Browns dropped 54% to $3.4M upping the total to $37.7M. The Owen Wilson bodyguard comedy Drillbit Taylor grossed $3.4M as well, off 40%, for a cume of $25.5M thus far for Paramount.

Fox's horror flick Shutter, the studio's third entry in the top ten, fell 46% to $2.8M putting the remake at $23.1M. Rounding out the top ten was 2008's top-grossing global blockbuster 10,000 BC with $2.8M, off 44%, which put Warner Bros. at $89.4M from North America. Overseas the tally rose to $153.9M for a stellar worldwide haul of $243M.

Martin Scorsese and The Rolling Stones joined forces for the concert film Shine A Light which opened in limited release with respectable, but not spectacular numbers. The PG-13 pic collected $1.5M from only 276 halls for a moderate $5,392 average. One-third of those venues were Imax theaters which charged higher ticket prices. Paramount Classics distributed the rock pic.

The top ten films grossed $76.2M which was down a steep 27% from last year when Blades of Glory remained at number one with $22.5M; and down 23% from 2006 when Ice Age: The Meltdown stayed in the top spot with $33.8M.

Compared to projections, Leatherheads and Nim's Island both opened slightly below my respective forecasts of $15M and $14M. The Ruins and Shine A Light were both on target with my predictions of $8M and $2M, respectively.

For a NEW review of Leatherheads and a NEW DVD review of Sweeney Todd visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Prom Night, Street Kings, and Smart People all open.

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

# Title Apr 4 - 6 Mar 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 21 $ 15,337,418 $ 24,105,943 -36.4 2,653 2 $ 5,781 $ 46,770,173 Sony
2 Nim's Island 13,210,579 3,513 1 3,760 13,210,579 Fox
3 Leatherheads 12,682,595 2,769 1 4,580 12,682,595 Universal
4 Horton Hears A Who 9,115,987 17,740,106 -48.6 3,571 4 2,553 131,076,768 Fox
5 The Ruins 8,003,421 2,812 1 2,846 8,003,421 Paramount
6 Superhero Movie 5,417,920 9,510,297 -43.0 2,965 2 1,827 16,899,661 MGM
7 Meet the Browns 3,418,255 7,481,508 -54.3 1,554 3 2,200 37,662,502 Lionsgate
8 Drillbit Taylor 3,405,937 5,713,585 -40.4 2,707 3 1,258 25,490,483 Paramount
9 Shutter 2,830,336 5,221,016 -45.8 2,125 3 1,332 23,138,277 Fox
10 10,000 B.C. 2,797,409 4,947,174 -43.5 2,335 5 1,198 89,349,915 Warner Bros.
11 Stop-Loss 2,271,595 4,555,117 -50.1 1,294 2 1,755 8,170,755 Paramount
12 Under the Same Moon 1,730,661 2,250,081 -23.1 439 3 3,942 8,959,462 Weinstein Co.
13 The Bank Job 1,712,860 2,780,168 -38.4 1,189 5 1,441 26,804,821 Lionsgate
14 College Road Trip 1,700,271 3,457,756 -50.8 1,705 5 997 40,918,686 Buena Vista
15 Shine A Light 1,488,081 276 1 5,392 1,488,081 Par. Classics
16 Run, Fat Boy, Run 1,368,124 2,340,743 -41.6 1,115 2 1,227 4,430,583 Picturehouse
17 Never Back Down 1,118,654 2,359,406 -52.6 1,209 4 925 23,080,675 Summit
18 Vantage Point 1,083,947 2,301,751 -52.9 1,128 7 961 71,037,105 Sony
19 Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day 732,204 1,151,400 -36.4 503 5 1,456 10,534,800 Focus
20 The Other Boleyn Girl 595,329 1,271,544 -53.2 706 6 843 26,051,195 Sony
Top 5 $ 58,350,000 $ 64,551,439 -9.6
Top 10 76,219,857 85,512,670 -10.9
Top 20 90,021,583 99,560,099 -9.6
Top 20 vs. 2007 90,021,583 119,221,807 -24.5

Last Updated: April 7, 2008 at 8:00PM ET

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