Weekend Box Office (April 17 - 19, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Zac Efron scored his second number one opener in six months as his non-musical high school comedy 17 Again debuted powerfully in the top spot to lead the North American box office to another impressive year-over-year gain. Russell Crowe's murder thriller State of Play bowed in second place while Jason Statham's action sequel Crank High Voltage limped to a weak sixth place opening.

Efron proved that he could draw a sizable crowd of paying customers outside of his safe Disney zone with 17 Again which premiered with $23.7M, according to final studio figures, winning this weekend's box office race by a wide margin of nearly $10M. The PG-13 film about a thirtysomething dad who transforms back to a teenage kid averaged a very solid $7,288 from 3,255 locations. Teens and young adults turned out in strong numbers and the teen heartthrob's large fan base certainly followed their superstar into new territory. Efron's High School Musical 3 carried a G rating while the musical Hairspray in which he had a supporting role was rated PG. And with 17 Again not being based on a property with a built-in audience, it proved that Efron can certainly open a film on his own when starring in the right type of project. For Warner Bros., it was the studio's industry-leading fifth number one opener of 2009. No other distributor has more than two this year.

Landing in second with a decent showing was the conspiracy thriller State of Play which took in $14.1M from 2,803 theaters. Averaging a commendable $5,020 per site, the PG-13 film stars Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, Robin Wright Penn, and Rachel McAdams. Reviews were solid for the Universal release which played to a mature crowd not being served by all the younger-skewing pics in the marketplace. According to studio research, State's audience was 55% female and 75% over 35.

Disney's Hannah Montana The Movie was behind in third with $13.4M representing a steep 59% crumble in the second weekend. A large fall was expected but the sophomore slide was a bit less than those for last year's Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds and High School Musical 3 which were 67% and 64%, respectively. The new Hannah has banked an impressive $56.9M in ten days and could reach $80M by the end of its run.

Paramount and DreamWorks claimed fourth place with the animated blockbuster Monsters vs. Aliens which became the top-grossing movie of 2009. The comic actioner grossed $13.2M falling 39% in its fourth frame to boost the cume to a stellar $163.1M. Monsters also surpassed the $154.5M of last spring's Horton Hears a Who which was the top grosser during the first four months of 2008. Monsters vs. Aliens is now on course to become the third biggest non-Shrek toon in DreamWorks history after last summer's Kung Fu Panda ($215.4M) and 2005's Madagascar ($193.2M).

Fast & Furious took in $11.8M, falling 57% in its third lap, and boosted its 17-day take to a strong $136.2M. Universal's hit sequel ruled the international box office again grossing an estimated $36M this weekend from 59 territories including powerful top spot bows in Australia, Italy, and China. Total is now $145M offshore and $281M worldwide easily making it the highest-grossing installment of the series globally. The Furious franchise has now raced to a stunning $880M worldwide across four films.

Five Jason Statham action films in 15 months seemed to be too much for fans to handle as the actor's latest effort Crank High Voltage stumbled with a $7M debut putting it in sixth place. The R-rated Lionsgate sequel averaged a not-so-heartpumping $3,133 from 2,223 locations. The opening not only was weaker than the bow of 2006's Crank ($10.5M, $4,158 average) but it also fell sharply from the debuts of Statham's last two films Death Race ($12.6M, $4,985 average) and Transporter 3 ($12.1M, $4,594 average).

Suffering the worst drop of any film in the top ten was Seth Rogen's latest comedy Observe and Report which tumbled 62% to $4.2M. Moviegoers could be getting too much of this star as well. The Warner Bros. release has collected $18.8M in ten days and should finish in the vicinity of $25M. The Nicolas Cage actioner Knowing followed with $3.6M, off 44%, pushing the total to $73.8M for Summit making it one of the top ten highest-grossing new releases of the year.

Two more hits rounded out the top ten. Paramount's Paul Rudd comedy I Love You, Man dropped 47% to $3.3M putting the cume at $64.6M. The fright flick The Haunting in Connecticut grossed $3.1M, down 47%, and lifted its sum to $51.9M for Lionsgate.

The top ten films grossed $97.4M which was up 22% from last year when The Forbidden Kingdom opened in the top spot with $21.4M; and up 41% from 2007 when Disturbia stayed at number one with $13M.

Compared to projections, 17 Again and State of Play opened a few notches ahead of my respective forecasts of $19M and $11M. Crank High Voltage debuted weaker than my $12M prediction.

Be sure to check the UPDATED box office charts for the Top 10 April Openings and the Top 10 Films of 2009. For a DVD review of Twilight visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Obsessed, Fighting, and The Soloist all open.

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

# Title Apr 17 - 19 Apr 10 - 12 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 17 Again $ 23,722,310 3,255 1 $ 7,288 $ 23,722,310 Warner Bros.
2 State of Play 14,071,280 2,803 1 5,020 14,071,280 Universal
3 Hannah Montana The Movie 13,406,217 32,324,487 -58.5 3,118 2 4,300 56,874,039 Buena Vista
4 Monsters vs. Aliens 13,240,233 21,812,253 -39.3 3,662 4 3,616 163,063,465 Paramount
5 Fast & Furious 11,774,715 27,237,905 -56.8 3,674 3 3,205 136,205,795 Universal
6 Crank High Voltage 6,963,565 2,223 1 3,133 6,963,565 Lionsgate
7 Observe and Report 4,174,939 11,017,334 -62.1 2,727 2 1,531 18,812,239 Warner Bros.
8 Knowing 3,574,727 6,433,433 -44.4 2,405 5 1,486 73,795,283 Summit
9 I Love You, Man 3,327,668 6,280,790 -47.0 2,202 5 1,511 64,614,979 Paramount
10 The Haunting in Connecticut 3,114,892 5,901,215 -47.2 2,255 4 1,381 51,883,389 Lionsgate
11 Dragonball Evolution 1,684,942 4,756,488 -64.6 2,181 2 773 7,934,562 Fox
12 Adventureland 1,331,696 3,353,618 -60.3 1,412 3 943 14,064,483 Miramax
13 Duplicity 1,113,795 2,995,850 -62.8 1,252 5 890 39,052,330 Universal
14 Sunshine Cleaning 980,560 1,733,473 -43.4 642 6 1,527 8,795,970 Overture
15 Race to Witch Mountain 744,406 1,908,670 -61.0 1,116 6 667 63,749,283 Buena Vista
16 Taken 584,153 1,083,022 -46.1 609 12 959 142,088,804 Fox
17 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 473,756 596,019 -20.5 403 14 1,176 144,689,133 Sony
18 The Last House on the Left 288,965 591,850 -51.2 338 6 855 32,236,155 Universal
19 12 Rounds 263,198 796,632 -67.0 409 4 644 11,329,749 Fox
20 Sin Nombre 258,484 333,187 -22.4 80 5 3,231 1,185,240 Focus
Top 5 $ 76,214,755 $ 98,825,412 -22.9
Top 10 97,370,546 122,113,373 -20.3
Top 20 105,094,501 130,303,643 -19.3
Top 20 vs. 2008 105,094,501 88,262,224 19.1

Last Updated: April 20, 2009 at 6:00PM ET