Weekend Box Office (April 11 - 13, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Teen girls seized control of the North American box office powering the horror remake Prom Night to number one. Adult men settled for the runnerup spot with the Keanu Reeves cop thriller Street Kings as the overall box office failed to generate any kind of notable heat. The marketplace has now trailed last year's grosses during eight of the last nine weekends.

The frame's one major bright spot came in the form of Prom Night, a reboot of the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis chiller, which captured the crown with $20.8M in its first weekend in theaters, according to final studio figures. Attacking 2,700 locations, the PG-13 suspense pic averaged a spectacular $7,706 per venue. With a strong marketing campaign from Sony's Screen Gems unit, a recognizable face in Brittany Snow, a commercially friendly rating, and a release date right before prom season making the subject matter very topical, the slasher hit connected with teens and young adults looking for a scare.

Prom was just the latest success story from Hollywood's continuous mission to recycle old horror hits. Audiences came out in huge numbers for other remakes in recent years like 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ($28.1M debut), 2004's Dawn of the Dead ($26.7M), 2005's The Amityville Horror ($23.5M), and last year's Halloween ($26.4M). With Prom Night, Sony also tied Fox for the industry lead of three $20M+ openers this year. With a production cost of nearly $20M, Prom Night should become the latest profitable fright flick for the studio.

Collecting about half as much business in its opening weekend was the Keanu Reeves cop thriller Street Kings which debuted to $12.5M. The R-rated actioner averaged a commendable $5,055 from 2,467 sites. Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, and Cedric the Entertainer co-star in the tale of dirty L.A. cops. The Fox Searchlight film played to the opposite audience that rallied behind Prom Night pulling in adults with a male skew. Reviews were not kind. The debut was very close to the $11.9M launch of the Bruce Willis film 16 Blocks. Both were star-driven police thrillers released in the spring. Blocks eventually reached $36.9M.

Compared to weekend estimates released on Sunday, Prom Night's actual gross came in a sizable $1.9M (8%) below while Street Kings finished ahead by $500,000 (4%).

After two weeks as the top card sharks, Kevin Spacey and pals saw their blackjack pic 21 fall to third place with $10.5M. Slipping only 32%, the Sony release was still a formidable player with an impressive third-frame gross and $3,827 average. With a solid $61.7M won in 17 days, the card-counting hit should finish up with a terrific $90M.

After a fierce battle over second place last weekend, Fox's Nim's Island and Universal's Leatherheads witnessed vastly different sophomore drops that gave the Abigail Breslin adventure a clear edge this time around. The family film dipped only 31% to $9.1M while the George Clooney comedy fumbled by 51% to $6.3M. Ten-day totals reached $25.4M and $22M, respectively. Nim's, which was produced for $37M, is not facing much competition for its core audience so a lengthier run leading to $45-50M seems likely. The $58M-budgeted Leatherheads is suffering from bad buzz and should end its season with a disappointing $35M. But Universal has two more promising players hitting the field this month - the comedies Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Baby Mama - which should allow the studio to recover.

The year's highest grossing film in the domestic market Horton Hears A Who followed in sixth with $5.9M in its fifth session. Off only 35%, the Fox blockbuster has banked $139.5M to date.

Miramax posted a modest opening for its Dennis Quaid-Sarah Jessica Parker dramedy Smart People which took in $4.1M in its first weekend in theaters. Playing in only 1,106 sites, the R-rated film averaged a lukewarm $3,700 per theater. Older adults were the target audience with women outnumbering men. Reviews were not very strong.

The Ruins crumbled 58% in its second weekend to $3.4M thanks to intense competition for the horror crowd from Prom Night. With only $13.5M scared up in ten days, the DreamWorks/Paramount pic should quickly end its run with under $20M.

The spoof comedy Superhero Movie grossed $3.2M, off 41%, and boosted its total to $21.3M for MGM and The Weinstein Co. Paramount's Drillbit Taylor rounded out the top ten with $2M, down 40%, for a cume to date of $28.4M.

A pair of independent films debuted to healthy numbers in limited release this weekend. Overture generated muscular figures for its illegal alien drama The Visitor which grossed $86,488 from only four houses for a potent $21,622 average. The PG-13 film expands wider on Friday.

Fox Searchlight saw its musical documentary Young @ Heart take in $50,937 from four locations as well and averaged a solid $12,734. The senior citizen flick expands to 15 new markets on Friday and will slowly roll out to roughly 260 theaters over the next month.

Three radically different films were tossed out of the top ten this weekend. Lionsgate collected $1.6M for the Tyler Perry comedy Meet the Browns. Down 55%, the Angela Bassett film has taken in $40.1M to date and should reach about $43M overall. Fox's horror remake Shutter tumbled 61% to $1.1M for a $24.9M cume. A respectable $26M final should result.

The prehistoric adventure 10,000 BC grossed $1.5M, down 47%, and lifted its total to $91.8M. The Warner Bros. actioner will soon surpass studio stablemate The Bucket List to become the second highest grossing film of the year so far. A $95M final seems likely. Overseas, the caveman flick has taken in a robust $158.7M allowing the global tally to break the $250M mark this weekend.

The top ten films grossed $77.8M which was down 15% from last year when Disturbia opened at number one with $22.2M; and down 27% from 2006 when Scary Movie 4 debuted in the top spot over the Easter frame with $40.2M.

Compared to projections, Prom Night debuted much higher than my $15M forecast while Street Kings and Smart People were close to my respective predictions of $10M and $3M.

For a NEW review of The Forbidden Kingdom and a NEW DVD review of The Kite Runner visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Forbidden Kingdom, and 88 Minutes all open.

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

# Title Apr 11 - 13 Apr 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Prom Night $ 20,804,941 2,700 1 $ 7,706 $ 20,804,941 Sony
2 Street Kings 12,469,631 2,467 1 5,055 12,469,631 Fox Searchlight
3 21 10,470,173 15,337,418 -31.7 2,736 3 3,827 61,738,420 Sony
4 Nim's Island 9,111,667 13,210,579 -31.0 3,518 2 2,590 25,391,566 Fox
5 Leatherheads 6,276,665 12,682,595 -50.5 2,771 2 2,265 21,976,580 Universal
6 Horton Hears A Who 5,920,566 9,115,987 -35.1 3,209 5 1,845 139,548,920 Fox
7 Smart People 4,092,465 1,106 1 3,700 4,092,465 Miramax
8 The Ruins 3,385,395 8,003,421 -57.7 2,814 2 1,203 13,548,871 Paramount
9 Superhero Movie 3,216,247 5,417,920 -40.6 2,526 3 1,273 21,304,164 MGM
10 Drillbit Taylor 2,044,988 3,405,937 -40.0 2,205 4 927 28,436,029 Paramount
11 Meet the Browns 1,555,182 3,418,255 -54.5 1,170 4 1,329 40,098,131 Lionsgate
12 10,000 B.C. 1,478,374 2,797,409 -47.2 1,550 6 954 91,753,844 Warner Bros.
13 Stop-Loss 1,102,718 2,271,595 -51.5 1,305 3 845 10,025,906 Paramount
14 Shutter 1,093,946 2,830,336 -61.3 1,435 4 762 24,881,550 Fox
15 The Bank Job 992,188 1,712,860 -42.1 802 6 1,237 28,420,868 Lionsgate
16 Shine A Light 960,469 1,488,081 -35.5 277 2 3,467 2,887,430 Par. Classics
17 Under the Same Moon 953,266 1,730,661 -44.9 450 4 2,118 10,337,903 Weinstein Co.
18 College Road Trip 865,026 1,700,271 -49.1 1,012 6 855 42,301,612 Buena Vista
19 U, Me Aur Hum 642,923 89 1 7,224 642,923 Eros
20 Run, Fat Boy, Run 587,221 1,368,124 -57.1 534 3 1,100 5,430,641 Picturehouse
Top 5 $ 59,133,077 $ 58,350,000 1.3
Top 10 77,792,738 76,219,857 2.1
Top 20 88,024,051 90,021,583 -2.2
Top 20 vs. 2007 88,024,051 112,515,963 -21.8

Last Updated: April 14, 2008 at 10:45PM ET

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