Weekend Box Office (September 7 - 9, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND After struggling at the box office over the last few years, Russell Crowe scored his first number one film in more than seven years with the critically-acclaimed Western 3:10 to Yuma which bumped fellow Hollywood remake Halloween out of the top spot. The weekend's other new releases, the action film Shoot 'Em Up and the comedy The Brothers Solomon, both failed to make much of a dent into the typically-slow early September marketplace. The top ten slumped to its lowest point since late April while aside from Yuma, no wide release managed a per-theater average of more than $3,000.

Lionsgate scored its first top spot debut of the year with 3:10 to Yuma which shot up $14M, according to final studio figures, in its opening frame from 2,652 theaters. Averaging a solid $5,292 per venue, the R-rated drama stars Crowe as a captured outlaw and Christian Bale as the man set to accompany him to the train that will take hiim to prison. Not since his career-making turn in 2000's Oscar-winning picture Gladiator has Russell Crowe inhabited the number one spot at the box office. Last year's dramedy flop A Good Year bowed to an embarrassing $3.7M on its way to a puny $7.5M while 2005's well-reviewed Cinderella Man debuted below expectations with $18.3M leading to a $61.6M domestic total. Critics were very supportive of Yuma giving much praise to the two lead actors as well as to director James Mangold (Walk the Line).

After a record Labor Day weekend launch, the horror entry Halloween plunged 64% and dropped a notch to second place with $9.5M in ticket sales. The Rob Zombie-directed film pushed its ten-day cume up to a rosy $43.7M which already makes it the top-grossing R-rated fright flick of the year. Halloween seems on track to finish with roughly $60M for MGM.

Sony's teen hit Superbad became the 20th film of 2007 to cross the $100M mark over the weekend. The raunchy sex romp collected $7.6M, dropping only 39%, and pushed its total gross to a stellar $103.2M. A final gross in the neighborhood of $125M seems likely for the inexpensive $18M production.

The new Clive Owen-Paul Giamatti action pic Shoot 'Em Up debuted in fourth place with a disappointing $5.7M gross. Making its way into 2,108 theaters, the R-rated film averaged a weak $2,712 per site for New Line. Reviews were mixed.

Matt Damon's third blockbuster in less than a year, The Bourne Ultimatum, followed close behind in fifth with $5.7M as well, off 46%, lifting the cume to $210.3M from North America. The assassin pic joins Shia LaBeouf's Disturbia as the only 2007 films to spend six weeks in the Top Five. Worldwide, Ultimatum climbed past $300M making it the top-grossing film in the Bourne series globally with many international markets still to come.

Sports comedy Balls of Fury lost half of its opening weekend audience and placed sixth for the frame with $5.7M pushing the 12-day tally to a respectable $24.2M. The Focus release should end up with $35-38M.

New Line's action sequel Rush Hour 3 followed in seventh with $4.9M, down 42%, boosting the cume to $128.7M. Fellow funny franchise flick Mr Bean's Holiday dropped 43% to $3.4M giving Universal a domestic total of $25.1M. The global gross has now risen to a stunning $215M.

The Nanny Diaries grossed $3.2M in its third weekend, off 38%, giving MGM $20.9M to date while Stardust rounded out the top ten falling 41% to $1.8M for a $34.6M total.

Opening terribly in wide release outside of the top ten was the R-rated comedy The Brothers Solomon which bowed to $508,601 from 700 theaters for a dismal $727 average. The $10M production failed to even make the Top 20.

A pair of films enjoyed encouraging and almost identical launches in arthouses over the weekend. The lunar mission documentary In the Shadow of the Moon bowed to $38,281 from four sites for a solid $9,570 average. The ThinkFilm release was "presented" by Ron Howard and will add more theaters within New York and Los Angeles and expand to Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. on Friday. MGM's Richard Gere war drama The Hunting Party debuted in four venues as well and grossed $39,609 for a strong average of $9,902 per theater.

Two competing late-August action titles were tossed out of the top ten. Fox's Kevin Bacon revenge pic Death Sentence tumbled 60% to $1.7M in its sophomore frame for a ten-day sum of only $8M. Look for a $10M final. The Jet Li-Jason Statham actioner War has done somewhat better and took in $1.5M in its third session. Crashing 64%, the Lionsgate release has taken in $20.6M thus far and should conclude with around $23M.

Among summer megahits still climbing the list of all-time domestic blockbusters, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix rose to $288.2M after its ninth weekend while Transformers inched up to $311.4M after its tenth attack. The July releases now sit at 31 and 21, respectively, on the all-time list.

The top ten films grossed $61.4M which was up a healthy 26% from last year when The Covenant debuted in first place with $8.9M; but down 13% from 2005 when The Exorcism of Emily Rose opened in the top spot with $30.1M.

Compared to projections, 3:10 to Yuma was on target with my $14M forecast. Shoot 'Em Up and The Brothers Solomon both debuted below my respective predictions of $8M and $2M.

Listen to the September 7 edition of the weekly industry podcast Projectionz featuring The Hollywood Reporter's Michael Rechtshaffen, Box Office magazine's Wade Major, and BoxOfficeGuru.com's Gitesh Pandya. For a review of Balls of Fury visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Brave One, Mr. Woodcock, and Dragon Wars all open.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Sep 7 - 9 Aug 31 - Sep 2 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 3:10 to Yuma $ 14,035,033 2,652 1 $ 5,292 $ 14,035,033 Lionsgate
2 Halloween 9,513,770 26,362,367 -63.9 3,475 2 2,738 43,709,854 MGM
3 Superbad 7,551,822 12,466,846 -39.4 3,069 4 2,461 103,219,381 Sony
4 Shoot 'Em Up 5,716,554 2,108 1 2,712 5,716,554 New Line
5 The Bourne Ultimatum 5,673,850 10,412,835 -45.5 3,010 6 1,885 210,294,605 Universal
6 Balls of Fury 5,652,852 11,352,123 -50.2 3,081 2 1,835 24,241,209 Focus
7 Rush Hour 3 4,883,334 8,451,762 -42.2 2,690 5 1,815 128,721,208 New Line
8 Mr. Bean's Holiday 3,413,785 5,983,365 -42.9 1,778 3 1,920 25,089,420 Universal
9 The Nanny Diaries 3,194,396 5,135,267 -37.8 2,444 3 1,307 20,877,849 MGM
10 Stardust 1,800,127 3,074,156 -41.4 1,423 5 1,265 34,594,712 Paramount
11 Hairspray 1,745,369 2,722,387 -35.9 1,393 8 1,253 114,675,912 New Line
12 Death Sentence 1,676,156 4,231,321 -60.4 1,823 2 919 7,983,182 Fox
13 War 1,494,499 4,184,444 -64.3 1,634 3 915 20,640,635 Lionsgate
14 The Simpsons Movie 1,319,878 2,823,844 -53.3 1,440 7 917 180,272,179 Fox
15 Harry Potter and the Order... 1,031,339 1,893,258 -45.5 775 9 1,331 288,201,180 Warner Bros.
16 Underdog 881,071 1,687,676 -47.8 1,121 6 786 41,082,910 Buena Vista
17 Becoming Jane 853,910 1,613,871 -47.1 968 6 882 16,974,749 Miramax
18 I Now Pronounce You Chuck... 834,060 1,382,205 -39.7 830 8 1,005 117,713,520 Universal
19 Ladron Que Roba A Ladron 728,952 1,626,090 -55.2 340 2 2,144 2,993,328 Lionsgate
20 Death at a Funeral 721,041 1,078,441 -33.1 316 4 2,282 5,687,282 MGM
Top 5 $ 42,491,029 $ 69,045,933 -38.5
Top 10 61,435,523 91,654,486 -33.0
Top 20 72,721,798 108,920,246 -33.2
Top 20 vs. 2006 72,721,798 64,975,180 11.9

Last Updated: September 11, 2007 at 12:15AM ET

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