Weekend Box Office (July 31 - August 2, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Comedy heavyweights Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow claimed the number one spot with their new dramedy Funny People which debuted to only moderate results leading the entire top ten to slump to its lowest point of the summer. Two other new releases, the kidpic Aliens in the Attic and the horror film The Collector, both struggled to find ticket buyers helping the North American box office once again fall below year-ago levels for the fourth consecutive weekend.

Universal claimed the top spot with Funny People which debuted to $22.7M making for the lowest gross for a number one film all summer. Playing in 3,007 locations, the R-rated story of a Hollywood superstar facing death averaged a healthy $7,535 per theater. Reviews were mixed for the reported $75M production. Friday generated $8.7M in opening day grosses but sales tumbled 15% on Saturday to $7.4M signaling bad word-of-mouth. The final weekend gross Universal reported showed a 10% Saturday-to-Sunday decline to $6.6M.

Funny People, which co-stars Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, and Eric Bana, opened weaker than Apatow's last directorial effort Knocked Up which bowed to $30.7M in June 2007 with a $10,690 average. With Sandler being a bigger and more reliable star, Funny was expected to at least open in the same vicinity. Even last weekend's The Ugly Truth with Knocked Up star Katherine Heigl did better with its $27.6M bow from fewer theaters.

People's Saturday drop and weak B- CinemaScore grade hints at a troubled path ahead. Audiences may be finding it too serious for an Apatow pic and not immature enough for a Sandler flick. The actor has scored $100M hits in each of the last seven years (tying Will Smith) but never with an R-rated entry. Sandler's younger fans may have been kept out because of the rating. A running time of nearly two-and-a-half hours also tested the patience of moviegoers.

Universal has suffered through a very forgettable summer and Funny People has added another headache. Land of the Lost is considered one of the season's most expensive flops with less than $50M collected, Public Enemies hasn't been a blockbuster despite the starpower, and Brüno fared well on opening day but has been plummeting by at least 66% each weekend since. The studio could possibly end the summer without any $100M hits. It had four last summer when the it focused mostly on franchise action films.

With most IMAX locations finally getting to open Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this past Wednesday, the latest wizard flick enjoyed the smallest third-weekend decline for the franchise since 2002. Prince's Friday-to-Sunday take fell just 39% to $17.9M allowing it to hold steady in second place. Domestic cume to date rocketed to $255.7M. The last Potter installment to enjoy a smaller drop in the third outing was Chamber of Secrets which dipped only 24% thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday session.

Warner Bros. was able to debut the new Hogwarts chapter in 166 additional IMAX venues this past week following the five-week run those screens had for the new Transformers pic. That boosted the playdate count for Prince to 4,393 this weekend making it the widest film release in history edging out the 4,366 of last summer's The Dark Knight, another Warners smash. The new Potter seems likely to hit $300M in North America.

Half-Blood Prince again ruled the overseas box office this weekend grossing an estimated $43.4M from over 13,000 screens in 64 markets propelling the international cume to a sensational $493M. The global gross flew to an eye-popping $748.7M in just under three weeks of release. Top offshore markets are the United Kingdom with $66.2M, Japan with $50.7M, and Germany with $48.8M.

Close behind in third was last week's top entry G-Force with $17.5M for a 45% sophomore decline. It was a bigger fall than those experienced by fellow summer 3D kidpics Up and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs which depreciated by 35% and 34%, respectively, in their second weekends. After ten days, Disney's spy actioner has grossed $66.9M and is hoping to reach $110-120M by the end of its run.

With a new Apatow flick in the marketplace, The Ugly Truth took a major hit falling 52% but still collected a sizable gross taking in $13.2M in its second weekend. The ten-day total for Sony stands at $54.7M. Budgeted at $38M, the Katherine Heigl-Gerard Butler pic should end up with an encouraging $90-100M. Sony hasn't been too big of a player at the box office this summer so Truth will be a welcome hit.

Opening in fifth place and barely making a dent in the summer movie season was the new kidpic Aliens in the Attic which took in $8M from 3,106 theaters for a weak $2,578 average. The Fox release tried to play to families and older kids, but couldn't compete with the high-octane competition from all the wizards and guinea pigs infesting multiplexes.

The horror flick Orphan held up reasonably well dropping 42%, encouraging for a fright flick, to $7.5M boosting the total to $27.1M in ten days. Warner Bros. looks to end with a solid $45M or so.

Popular summer blockbusters rounded out the top ten continuing their successful runs. Fox's Ice Age threequel dipped 34% to $5.5M upping the total to $182.1M. Close behind was the runaway smash The Hangover with $5.2M, off only 20%, for a stellar $255.9M cume. The post-bachelor party flick has now spent nine consecutive weekends in the top ten matching Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Taken, and Monsters vs. Aliens for the most of any 2009 releases. The only film to spend more time this calendar year was Oscar champ Slumdog Millionaire which spent 11 total frames in the top ten.

Sandra Bullock claimed ninth place with her top grosser ever, The Proposal, which took in $4.9M, down just 23%, for a $149M sum. The Buena Vista release has been a consistent go-to choice for adult women and couples. Falling 42% to tenth place was the year's largest hit Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with $4.7M raising the cume to $388.2M.

Scaring up little excitement outside of the top ten was the new horror film The Collector which debuted poorly with $3.6M. Averaging a weak $2,699 from 1,325 sites, the R-rated Freestyle release failed to connect with its target audience which had more high-profile options to choose from.

Two new titles launched to good results in platform release. Fox Searchlight's Hugh Dancy romance Adam bowed to $68,377 from four sites for a $17,094 average. The total since its Wednesday start is $96,888. Focus unleashed its Korean vampire thriller Thirst in four theaters as well and banked $55,889 for $13,972 per location. Both films will expand to more cities throughout August.

The top ten films grossed $107.1M which was down a troubling 24% from last year when The Dark Knight stayed in the top spot for a third straight time with $42.7M; and also down 32% from 2007 when The Bourne Ultimatum debuted at number one with $69.3M.

Compared to projections, Funny People debuted below my $32M forecast. Aliens in the Attic and The Collector also opened below my respective predictions of $14M and $5M.

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

Check the UPDATED chart for the Top Films of 2009. For a NEW review of Funny People visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Julie & Julia, and A Perfect Getaway all open.

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

# Title Jul 31 - Aug 2 Jul 24 - 26 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Funny People $ 22,657,780 3,007 1 $ 7,535 $ 22,657,780 Universal
2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 17,909,385 29,462,187 -39.2 4,393 3 4,077 255,672,245 Warner Bros.
3 G-Force 17,515,489 31,706,934 -44.8 3,697 2 4,738 66,918,912 Buena Vista
4 The Ugly Truth 13,187,433 27,605,576 -52.2 2,882 2 4,576 54,668,841 Sony
5 Aliens in the Attic 8,008,423 3,106 1 2,578 8,008,423 Fox
6 Orphan 7,525,419 12,871,483 -41.5 2,750 2 2,737 27,066,812 Warner Bros.
7 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 5,526,015 8,408,430 -34.3 2,757 5 2,004 182,068,804 Fox
8 The Hangover 5,194,475 6,461,370 -19.6 2,071 9 2,508 255,890,892 Warner Bros.
9 The Proposal 4,931,064 6,379,926 -22.7 2,435 7 2,025 148,964,741 Buena Vista
10 Transformers: ROTF 4,688,329 8,124,427 -42.3 2,626 6 1,785 388,189,320 Paramount
11 The Collector 3,576,296 1,325 1 2,699 3,576,296 Freestyle
12 (500) Days of Summer 2,776,891 1,635,772 69.8 266 3 10,439 6,847,506 Fox Searchlight
13 Public Enemies 2,527,310 4,352,650 -41.9 1,620 5 1,560 93,199,665 Universal
14 The Hurt Locker 1,909,170 1,438,355 32.7 523 6 3,650 6,755,335 Summit
15 Love Aaj Kal 1,241,762 102 1 12,174 1,241,762 Eros
16 Up 1,174,631 1,687,307 -30.4 726 10 1,618 286,053,296 Buena Vista
17 Brüno 885,210 2,832,870 -68.8 747 4 1,185 59,097,200 Universal
18 My Sister's Keeper 658,003 1,341,466 -50.9 656 6 1,003 46,749,509 Warner Bros.
19 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smith. 558,360 649,994 -14.1 349 11 1,600 174,013,037 Fox
20 The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 456,249 491,478 -7.2 383 8 1,191 64,541,337 Sony
Top 5 $ 79,278,510 $ 110,054,610 -28.0
Top 10 107,143,812 138,205,853 -22.5
Top 20 122,907,694 147,331,437 -16.6
Top 20 vs. 2008 122,907,694 149,724,567 -17.9

Last Updated: August 3, 2009 at 5:30PM ET