Weekend Box Office (September 4 - 7, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND While the summer movie season started with a bang with the sharp claws of a mutant super hero, it ended quietly over the four-day Labor Day holiday session with the 3D horror sequel The Final Destination topping the lowest-grossing weekend of 2009. None of the three new releases managed to unseat last weekend's box office winner and the Top 20 sunk to just $116M over four days and $91M over three days - the worst such tally of the year.

With moviegoers not showing much excitement for the weekend's new releases, The Final Destination remained at number one by default grossing $15.3M, according to final studio figures, in its second round over the four-day holiday session. The Warner Bros. thriller witnessed a drop of 55% across the three-day period which was normal for fright films. After 11 days of play, the fourth installment in the successful franchise has scared up a sturdy $50.4M. A $70M final seems likely for Final which will be the best gross of the series. This weekend's three-day take of $12.4M was the lowest for any number one film since Bangkok Dangerous bowed on top to $7.8M this weekend one year ago.

Brad Pitt's supporting role in Inglourious Basterds led to $15M in ticket sales over four days in the third weekend putting it close behind in second. The Weinstein Co. release dropped moderately and raised its 18-day cume to a solid $95.1M. Overseas, Universal has grossed an additional $83.3M putting the global tally at $178.4M for the $70M-budgeted Nazi drama.

Opening in third place was the critically-panned romantic comedy All About Steve with $14.1M over four days. Fox's PG-13 film averaged a healthy $6,245 from 2,251 theaters. The turnout was larger than expected as the film took advantage of the good will generated this summer for stars Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper after their runaway comedy hits The Proposal and The Hangover, respectively. Plus with so many violent and male-skewing movies dominating the multiplexes over the last few weeks, Steve played as nice counter-programming to women looking for something light and funny. Critics showered the pic with some of the worst reviews of the year however, making it an early contender for Razzie nominations.

Gerard Butler didn't flex too much muscle with his new action offering Gamer which debuted in fourth place with $11.2M. The R-rated pic about a gaming system where players control real people and weapons averaged a lackluster $4,478 from 2,502 locations for Lionsgate over the Friday-to-Monday period. Competition for young men was intense between all the other violent R pics in release as well as from college and pro football games over the weekend.

Sony's District 9 has become that rare sci-fi movie with legs and broke the $100M mark this weekend. The alien flick dipped to $9.1M boosting the total to $103.4M and counting. It is the 20th release of 2009 to join the century club. Meryl Streep's Julie & Julia grossed $7.1M giving Sony $80.7M to date.

Following in seventh was the horror sequel Halloween II which collapsed in its second weekend tumbling to $6.9M for an 11-day tally of $26.9M. This latest reboot of the Michael Myers franchise could be dead, that is until it gets a new lease on life years from now. Testosterone pic G.I. Joe fell to $6.7M lifting Paramount's cume to $141M.

Two films with $5.5M in four days rounded out the top ten. Miramax debuted the Mike Judge-directed comedy Extract to a weak response with audiences spending an average of just $3,422 over the long weekend from 1,611 locations. Reviews were mixed for the R-rated title. The Time Traveler's Wife has taken in $55.8M thus far for Warner Bros.

With the summer now almost in the books, the latest cumulative grosses for the top ten movies of the season included $400.6M for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, $297.6M for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, $290.9M for Up, $272.2M for The Hangover, $257.2M for Star Trek, $194.2M for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, $179.9M for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, $176.8M for Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, $161.1M for The Proposal, and $141M for G.I. Joe.

Opening to solid numbers in platform release was National Geographic's Amreeka with $71,548 from only four theaters for a $17,887 average over the long holiday weekend. Reviews were generally good for the PG-13 pic about a single mom from the West Bank that moves to the U.S. It will expand to more cities on September 18.

The top ten films grossed $96.3M over four days which was up 12% from last year's Labor Day holiday session when Tropic Thunder held the top spot with $14.6M; but down 16% from 2007's holiday when Halloween opened at number one with $30.6M.

Compared to four-day projections, All About Steve opened ahead of my $9M prediction while Gamer debuted below my $15M forecast. Extract was on target with my $6M projection.

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

Check the box office charts for this summer's top openings and this year's top blockbusters. For a review of The Final Destination visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Sorority Row, 9, and Whiteout all open.

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

# Title Sep 4 - 7 Aug 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Final Destination $ 15,295,069 $ 27,408,309 -44.2 3,121 2 $ 4,901 $ 50,435,066 Warner Bros.
2 Inglourious Basterds 14,950,489 19,303,653 -22.6 3,358 3 4,452 95,146,096 Weinstein Co.
3 All About Steve 14,058,106 2,251 1 6,245 14,058,106 Fox
4 Gamer 11,203,761 2,502 1 4,478 11,203,761 Lionsgate
5 District 9 9,114,591 10,270,435 -11.3 3,139 4 2,904 103,388,712 Sony
6 Julie & Julia 7,077,574 7,035,675 0.6 2,528 5 2,800 80,717,968 Sony
7 Halloween II 6,872,800 16,349,565 -58.0 3,088 2 2,226 26,928,692 Weinstein Co.
8 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 6,705,288 7,715,572 -13.1 2,846 5 2,356 141,021,754 Paramount
9 Extract 5,513,634 1,611 1 3,422 5,513,634 Miramax
10 The Time Traveler's Wife 5,465,925 6,452,270 -15.3 2,803 4 1,950 55,809,927 Warner Bros.
11 Shorts 3,845,717 4,511,345 -14.8 2,631 3 1,462 18,272,777 Warner Bros.
12 G-Force 2,842,407 2,824,808 0.6 1,477 7 1,924 115,469,113 Buena Vista
13 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2,502,248 2,466,423 1.5 1,091 8 2,294 297,614,366 Warner Bros.
14 (500) Days of Summer 2,381,148 2,008,956 18.5 935 8 2,547 28,449,326 Fox Searchlight
15 Taking Woodstock 1,916,451 3,457,760 -44.6 1,395 2 1,374 6,442,111 Focus
16 Ponyo 1,869,502 1,887,921 -1.0 890 4 2,101 13,519,023 Buena Vista
17 The Hangover 1,497,906 1,340,141 11.8 709 14 2,113 272,197,388 Warner Bros.
18 The Ugly Truth 1,121,176 1,587,710 -29.4 773 7 1,450 87,565,314 Sony
19 Transformers: ROTF 1,010,358 575,531 75.6 507 11 1,993 400,641,549 Paramount
20 Up 966,434 649,188 48.9 418 15 2,312 290,866,563 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 64,622,016 $ 81,047,534 -20.3
Top 10 96,257,237 105,329,392 -8.6
Top 20 116,210,584 119,165,693 -2.5
Top 20 vs. Labor Day 2008 116,210,584 112,007,506 3.8

Last Updated: September 8, 2009 at 5:30PM ET