Weekend Box Office (June 5 - 7, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND In an upset victory that saw a reversal of positions from original studio estimates, the raunchy new comedy The Hangover opened in first place narrowly beating a strong second weekend for Disney/Pixar's hit 3D pic Up. Will Ferrell's time travel action-comedy Land of the Lost had trouble finding audiences with a disappointing third place debut. With big Hollywood actors asking for more and more money, moviegoers spent their cash on two crowd pleasers lacking any major star names.

The weekend's big surprise came in the number one slot as the post-bachelor party comedy The Hangover flew past expectations to a stunning $45M opening weekend, according to final studio figures. The R-rated pic averaged a scorching $13,759 from 3,269 theaters for the best average of the frame. Directed by Todd Phillips (Old School, Starsky & Hutch), Hangover enjoyed the third biggest opening in box office history for an R-rated comedy. Only Sex and the City ($56.8M) and American Pie 2 ($45.1M) debuted better and both capitalized on built-in audiences which Hangover did not have.

Reviews were very positive and word-of-mouth from advance screenings helped to fuel excitement. Hangover easily beat out the debuts of other raunchy summer laughers with the same rating like Wedding Crashers ($33.9M), Knocked Up ($30.7M), and Superbad ($33.1M). However, one trouble spot came from the Saturday gross which dropped a troubling 9% from Friday's stellar $16.5M opening day bow. Next weekend's results will determine whether fans rushed out upfront, or if recommendations can help broaden the audience. But with a production cost of under $30M, The Hangover will certainly become a financial winner for Warner Bros. which already has a sequel in the works with Phillips and lead actors Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms signed.

It was a close race for the box office crown but final grosses put Up in second place with $44.1M. Off only 35%, the PG-rated hit has now upped its ten-day cume to a robust $137.2M. It was the largest second weekend gross for any film since last summer's The Dark Knight.

Sensational word-of-mouth, glowing reviews, and a lack of offerings for young children now starting their summer breaks all contributed to the fantastic performance. Up enjoyed one of the better sophomore holds for a Pixar film declining less than WALL•E (49%), Ratatouille (38%), and Cars (44%) from the last three summers. It also held up better than the most recent offerings from rival DreamWorks which unleashed its last three titles over the past year - 3D pic Monsters vs. Aliens (45%), Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (45%), and Kung Fu Panda (44%). Up is on course to fly higher than all six of those hits by the end of its run reaching $275M, and possibly $300M, from North America alone making it the second biggest Pixar smash ever behind just Finding Nemo's $339.7M.

Helped by the surcharges it is collecting from the 3D screens, Up is set to take on Pixar's two biggest hits Nemo and The Incredibles. Nemo, which opened on the same weekend as Up in 2003, slid by only 34% in its second session for a ten-day tally of $144M. The following year's Incredibles bowed in early November, dropped just 29% in its second try, and banked $143.3M after ten days. It ended with $261.4M which Up looks to soar past.

Looking like the first big clunker of the summer movie season, Universal's adventure-comedy Land of the Lost debuted weaker than expected in third place with $18.8M. The PG-13 pic launched ultrawide in 3,521 locations but averaged a mild $5,350. With Will Ferrell's salary and special effects, the remake cost over $100M to produce and needed a bigger opening in order to find the land of profitability. The bow was even worse than the $20.1M of Ferrell's last summer TV remake Bewitched from June 2005. Apparently, he did not learn his lesson.

Lost entered the marketplace trying to appeal to both families and to the comedian's fan following, but the well-received Up and Hangover stole away much of those respective crowds. The PG-rated Night at the Museum sequel still sold a solid amount of tickets providing even more competition for those seeking adventure and laughs. Plus Lost's bad reviews and rating made parents think twice before taking their younger children. A weak product, intense competition, and source material that wasn't wildly popular to begin with all contributed to Land of the Lost becoming this summer's Speed Racer.

Dropping 40% in its third weekend was Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian which grossed $14.6M. Fox's action-comedy sequel has banked $127.3M in 17 days, off 22% from the pace of its 2006 predecessor. Paramount's blockbuster reboot Star Trek followed with $8.3M, down only 34%, for a stellar total of $222.7M.

Sci-fi audiences have been spending half as much money on Terminator Salvation which fell 50% in its third mission to $8.2M. The Warner Bros. release became the year's twelfth pic to break $100M on Saturday and raised its cume to $105.6M. Given its $200M production cost, the domestic results remain underwhelming. But overseas, Sony launched the John Connor saga this weekend and pulled in an impressive $67.5M haul ranking number one in 66 of its 70 markets. The international total stands at $97.2M and will quickly surpass the North American tally by the end of the week. Sony purchased rights for most overseas territories. Compared to 2003's T3: Rise of the Machines, Salvation is running 21% ahead internationally for Sony but is lagging 17% behind domestically for Warner. Bros.

Devilish films took up the next two spots. Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell tumbled 56% in its second scare grossing $7M for a ten-day tally of $28.2M. Look for the Universal fright flick to end with $40-45M. Angels & Demons followed with $6.6M, down 42%, giving Sony a domestic take of $116.2M - down 39% from the pace of 2006's The Da Vinci Code. Demons collected $22.3M overseas this weekend to push the international total to $292.9M and the global gross to $409M making it the top-grossing film worldwide this year.

The tour guide comedy My Life in Ruins created no excitement with moviegoers opening poorly in ninth place with $3.2M. The Fox Searchlight pic averaged a weak $2,769 from 1,164 locations and was panned by critics. Rounding out the top ten was the spoof comedy Dance Flick with $2M, stumbling a steep 59% in its third round, for a sum to date of just $22.6M for Paramount.

Focus got off to a sizzling start with its pregnancy comedy Away We Go which bowed in four theaters with $130,411 for a potent average of $32,603. Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), the R-rated dysfunctional family pic stars NBC faces John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph and earned mixed reviews from critics. Away expands to over 30 sites across numerous top markets next weekend.

The top ten films grossed $157.9M which was down 7% from last year when Kung Fu Panda opened in the top spot with $60.2M; but up 22% from 2007 when Ocean's Thirteen debuted at number one with $36.1M.

Compared to projections, The Hangover surged well ahead of my $23M forecast while Land of the Lost debuted below my $29M prediction. My Life in Ruins was close to my $4M projection.

Get box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Check the NEW chart of top R-rated openings. For NEW reviews of The Hangover and Land of the Lost visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and Imagine That try to dislodge Up from the top spot.

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

# Title Jun 5 - 7 May 29 - 31 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Hangover $ 44,979,319 3,269 1 $ 13,759 $ 44,979,319 Warner Bros.
2 Up 44,138,266 68,108,790 -35.2 3,818 2 11,561 137,210,701 Buena Vista
3 Land of the Lost 18,837,350 3,521 1 5,350 18,837,350 Universal
4 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian 14,634,988 24,353,868 -39.9 3,807 3 3,844 127,326,188 Fox
5 Star Trek 8,310,480 12,613,777 -34.1 3,202 5 2,595 222,712,175 Paramount
6 Terminator Salvation 8,248,387 16,433,365 -49.8 3,304 3 2,496 105,568,008 Warner Bros.
7 Drag Me to Hell 7,040,550 15,825,480 -55.5 2,510 2 2,805 28,233,230 Universal
8 Angels & Demons 6,550,282 11,353,340 -42.3 2,925 4 2,239 116,174,931 Sony
9 My Life in Ruins 3,223,161 1,164 1 2,769 3,223,161 Fox Searchlight
10 Dance Flick 1,958,725 4,743,636 -58.7 1,707 3 1,147 22,625,733 Paramount
11 X-Men Origins: Wolverine 1,927,096 3,873,377 -50.2 1,391 6 1,385 174,347,386 Fox
12 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past 932,181 1,911,401 -51.2 879 6 1,061 51,919,132 Warner Bros.
13 The Brothers Bloom 412,771 627,971 -34.3 173 4 2,386 2,025,712 Summit
14 Fast & Furious 286,795 242,190 18.4 284 10 1,010 154,356,665 Universal
15 Monsters vs. Aliens 270,873 320,040 -15.4 313 11 865 194,854,481 Paramount
16 The Soloist 264,531 485,215 -45.5 306 7 864 30,726,123 Paramount
17 Race to Witch Mountain 259,716 327,956 -20.8 250 13 1,039 66,200,577 Buena Vista
18 Obsessed 258,092 657,001 -60.7 318 7 812 68,032,027 Sony
19 17 Again 212,805 339,549 -37.3 222 8 959 61,605,717 Warner Bros.
20 Hannah Montana The Movie 210,014 421,198 -50.1 207 9 1,015 77,893,713 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 130,900,403 $ 137,335,280 -4.7
Top 10 157,921,508 159,874,035 -1.2
Top 20 162,956,382 163,365,962 -0.3
Top 20 vs. 2008 162,956,382 173,175,632 -5.9

Last Updated: June 8, 2009 at 4:25PM ET