Weekend Box Office (September 14 - 16, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND For the second straight weekend, a star-driven action drama aimed at adult audiences opened at number one with about $14M in ticket sales from roughly 2,700 theaters. This time it was Jodie Foster's The Brave One which topped the charts bumping former champ 3:10 to Yuma to the runnerup spot. Billy Bob Thornton's new comedy Mr. Woodcock opened respectably in third while the fantasy actioner Dragon Wars bowed to weak results in fourth place.

Warner Bros. captured the top spot with the vigilante thriller The Brave One this weekend grossing $13.5M, according to final studio figures, averaging a solid $4,890 from 2,755 theaters. The Jodie Foster film's gross was enough to claim the number one spot, but was a far cry from the numbers that the Oscar-winning actress has seen from recent films. The R-rated pic's bow was 45% weaker than her last film Flightplan's $24.6M launch in September 2005 and down 55% from the $30.1M debut of Panic Room in March 2002. All were adult-skewing thrillers anchored solo by Foster playing a strong woman who takes care of problems on her own.

Two elements that may have dampened the grosses for Brave were lukewarm reviews and a better-than-expected hold from 3:10 to Yuma which is also playing to a mature adult crowd. Foster was aggressively promoting the Neil Jordan-directed film on every TV and print outlet over the past two weeks but that did little to prevent the revenge pic from posting one of her worst openings in recent years. In fact, over the last decade, her only wide release to debut weaker was 1999's Anna and the King with $5.2M.

The Brave One was the first number one hit of the year to be anchored by a woman. It could be followed by another next weekend when Milla Jovovich's action sequel Resident Evil: Extinction attacks.

Audiences kept lining up for Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in the Western 3:10 to Yuma which enjoyed a strong hold in its second weekend dropping only 36% to $8.9M. That gave Lionsgate a solid $28.3M after ten days with $50M possible by the end of the run which will make it one of the distributor's top-grossing non-Saw films.

Opening with a decent showing in third place was the Billy Bob Thornton-Seann William Scott comedy Mr. Woodcock with $8.8M. Averaging $3,927 from 2,231 theaters, the PG-13 pic performed slightly better than Thornton's last comedy School for Scoundrels which bowed to $8.6M despite playing in 773 more theaters last September. Critics were understandably harsh.

The fantasy adventure film Dragon Wars debuted with weak results in fifth with $5M from 2,277 sites for a poor $2,214 average. The PG-13 film from Freestyle Releasing attracted poor reviews.

Teen sensation Superbad spent its fifth straight weekend in the Top Five grossing $5.1M and boosted Sony's cume to $111.2M. MGM's horror redo Halloween fell 49% to $4.9M in its third scare and lifted its sum to $51.1M.

Dipping only 27% was The Bourne Ultimatum which grossed $4.1M pushing the massive cume to $216.2M. Only one 2007 release has performed better in its seventh weekend - Wild Hogs with $4.7M in April. Overseas, the Universal hit collected an estimated $20.8M from 4,333 theaters in 46 territories and enjoyed number one debuts in France, South Korea, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands. That lifted the international total to $125M and the global tally to $341M making it the biggest Bourne ever. Look for the $400M barrier to fall later this fall.

The sports comedy Balls of Fury drooped down to eighth place with $3.3M, off 41%, for a $28.9M total after 19 days for Focus. New Line's action sequel Rush Hour 3 held up well again sliding 32% to $3.3M for a cume of $133.2M to date. The family comedy Mr. Bean's Holiday eased only 20% to $2.7M for a $28.5M sum for Universal.

There was plenty of activity in the arthouses as Oscar season got underway with strong limited launches from a handful of early contenders. Director David Cronenberg's crime thriller Eastern Promises generated the best average with $547,092 bow from 15 theaters for a muscular $36,473 per site. The R-rated tale won the top audience prize at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday boosting its industry profile and will expand on Friday to more than 1,300 locations nationwide. This weekend's results were almost identical to the platform bow of Cronenberg's last film A History of Violence which opened in mid-September two years ago in 14 theaters to a $515,992 frame and $36,857 average before expanding wide the following weekend with $8.1M from 1,340 venues and a $6,047 average. Coincidentally, Jodie Foster was number one at that time with Flightplan.

Sony's musical extravaganza Across the Universe was red hot also with a debut of $667,784 from 23 venues for a potent $29,034 average. Studio data showed that the Julie Taymor-directed pic skewed towards young women as the audience breakdown was 62% female and 57% under 25. Universe also widens on Friday and will be in roughly 400 playdates.

The Tommy Lee Jones military mystery In the Valley of Elah opened to solid results with $133,557 from nine locations for a $14,840 average. Warner Independent reported that the audience was more male and older. Directed by Paul Haggis (Crash), Elah will expand to 250-300 runs next weekend. The distributor's Daniel Radcliffe drama December Boys did not fare as well and grossed $15,810 from four theaters for a mild $3,953 average in New York and Los Angeles. Pic will widen to 10 theaters on Friday and will have a tough road ahead given the avalanche of limited-release options on the horizon.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. New Line's stylish action thriller Shoot 'Em Up tumbled 54% in its second weekend to $2.6M giving the Clive Owen pic only $10.4M after ten days. A $15M final seems likely. The Nanny Diaries grossed $2.1M, off 34%, for a cume of $23.9M. The MGM release should finish up with just under $30M. Paramount's expensive flop Stardust took in $1.2M, down 32%, for a domestic tally of only $36.4M. With a reported production cost of $65M, the adventure film looks to end its run with a disappointing $40M.

The top ten films grossed $59.7M which was up 6% from last year when Gridiron Gang debuted in first place with $14.4M; but down 10% from 2005 when Just Like Heaven opened in the top spot with $16.4M.

Compared to projections, The Brave One did not reach my $22M forecast. Mr. Woodcock debuted higher than my $6M prediction while Dragon Wars was close to my $4M projection.

For a NEW review of The Brave One visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Resident Evil: Extinction, Good Luck Chuck, and Sydney White all premiere.

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

# Title Sep 14 - 16 Sep 7 - 9 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Brave One $ 13,471,488 2,755 1 $ 4,890 $ 13,471,488 Warner Bros.
2 3:10 to Yuma 8,930,889 14,035,033 -36.4 2,667 2 3,349 28,330,228 Lionsgate
3 Mr. Woodcock 8,761,369 2,231 1 3,927 8,761,369 New Line
4 Superbad 5,105,184 7,551,822 -32.4 2,910 5 1,754 111,241,228 Sony
5 Dragon Wars 5,041,239 2,277 1 2,214 5,041,239 Freestyle
6 Halloween 4,867,522 9,513,770 -48.8 3,051 3 1,595 51,120,587 MGM
7 The Bourne Ultimatum 4,125,380 5,673,850 -27.3 2,611 7 1,580 216,167,260 Universal
8 Balls of Fury 3,324,001 5,652,852 -41.2 2,758 3 1,205 28,859,451 Focus
9 Rush Hour 3 3,303,341 4,883,334 -32.4 2,208 6 1,496 133,158,932 New Line
10 Mr. Bean's Holiday 2,726,475 3,413,785 -20.1 1,770 4 1,540 28,545,470 Universal
11 Shoot 'Em Up 2,602,115 5,716,554 -54.5 2,108 2 1,234 10,359,287 New Line
12 The Nanny Diaries 2,104,054 3,194,396 -34.1 1,971 4 1,068 23,911,341 MGM
13 Hairspray 1,231,798 1,745,369 -29.4 1,155 9 1,066 116,410,754 New Line
14 Stardust 1,215,496 1,800,127 -32.5 1,078 6 1,128 36,409,283 Paramount
15 Harry Potter and the Order... 803,227 1,031,339 -22.1 589 10 1,364 289,326,081 Warner Bros.
16 War 672,902 1,494,499 -55.0 802 4 839 21,926,186 Lionsgate
17 Across the Universe 667,784 23 1 29,034 667,784 Sony
18 The Simpsons Movie 661,810 1,319,878 -49.9 799 8 828 181,238,479 Fox
19 Death at a Funeral 622,831 721,041 -13.6 324 5 1,922 6,573,444 MGM
20 I Now Pronounce You Chuck... 563,945 834,060 -32.4 613 9 920 118,501,900 Universal
Top 5 $ 41,310,169 $ 42,491,029 -2.8
Top 10 59,656,888 61,435,523 -2.9
Top 20 70,802,850 72,721,798 -2.6
Top 20 vs. 2006 70,802,850 70,930,811 -0.2

Last Updated: September 17, 2007 at 11:45PM ET

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