Weekend Box Office (September 26 - 28, 2008)

by Sujit Chawla

THIS WEEKEND Looking down upon the rest of the box office, Eagle Eye soared to the top of the charts this weekend with one of the largest September openings in history. But the real surprise on the charts was in the number four position. Overall, the top ten sailed above last year's levels.

The combination of actor Shia LaBeouf, director D.J. Caruso and executive producer Steven Spielberg ruled the charts as the action-thriller Eagle Eye landed at number one this weekend with $29.2M, according to final studio figures, for a per-theater average of $8,305. The opening currently stands as the fourth biggest in September history behind only Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6M in 2002), Rush Hour ($33M in 1998) and The Exorcism of Emily Rose ($30M in 2005). It was also the biggest opening weekend in nearly two months since the The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor's $40.4M back during the first weekend in August. The last time LaBeouf and Caruso teamed up was on the surprise hit Disturbia which opened in April of last year to $22.2M on its way to a robust $80.2M finale. Reviews were not strong but audiences lined up for the biggest 'event' film in weeks.

In second place was the romantic drama Nights in Rodanthe based on the acclaimed novel from Nicholas Sparks. The Warner Bros. film grossed $13.4M this weekend for a decent average of $4,962 per theater. The total fell just behind the opening of the last pairing between Richard Gere and Diane Lane, 2002's Unfaithful which opened to $14.1M. Reviews have not been kind to Rodanthe, but expect many couples to curl up on the couch with this film when it hits DVD during the winter.

Falling two spots to number three was the Samuel L. Jackson thriller Lakeview Terrace with $7M falling a steep 54% bringing its cume after two weeks to $25.7M. Look for the Sony release to end with a final gross in the $40M range.

Coming from seemingly out of nowhere and debuting in fourth place was the Kirk Cameron drama Fireproof. The film, which tells the story of a firefighter who must find a way to save his marriage, brought in $6.8M from only 839 screens for a strong average of $8,111, second highest in the top ten. The film has been heavily promoted to Christian groups and proves once again that religious-themed films can bring in an audience.

Fifth place belonged to the Coen brothers latest dark comedy, Burn After Reading. Starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney, the film brought in $6.2M this weekend bringing its cume to $45.6M. The film is now the second highest grossing title for the Coens behind only last year's Academy Award winning No Country for Old Men which made $74.3M.

In sixth place with the best hold in the top ten was the animated comedy Igor which slipped only 31% to $5.4M, bringing its cume to $14.2M. Look for a final gross in the $25-30M range and a steeper drop next weekend as the family comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua storms theaters.

In seventh was the romantic comedy My Best Friend's Girl which laughed up $3.9M this weekend, down 53%, bringing its cume to $14.6M. The DeNiro/Pacino combination of Righteous Kill took eighth with $3.7M this weekend, bringing its cume to $34.7M.

Debuting in ninth place with dismal results was the Spike Lee war drama Miracle at St. Anna which brought in an estimated $3.5M from 1,185 for a sad per-theater average of $2,935. And closing out the top ten was Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys which had the largest drop in the top 10, falling 57% to $3.1M bringing its cume to $32.8M.

The record-breaking smash The Dark Knight finally dropped out of the top ten after ten glorious weeks. The Warner Bros. juggernaut slipped 43% to $1.7M this weekend raising its domestic haul to $524.5M. Overseas, the Caped Crusader has taken in another $460M giving The Joker and pals a staggering $984.5M worldwide and counting. Knight should eventually finish up as only the fourth blockbuster in history to gross north of $1 billion globally.

The top ten films grossed $82.1M which was up 13% from last year when The Game Plan opened in the top spot with $23M; and down 2% from 2006 when the animated Open Season debuted at number one with $23.6M.

Compared to projections, Eagle Eye and Nights in Rodanthe opened a bit higher than Gitesh's $27M and $12M respective forecasts while Miracle at St. Anna came in below Gitesh's $6M projection.

For a NEW review of Eagle Eye visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when a six-pack of films opens wide including Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, An American Carol, Blindness, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and Flash of Genius.

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

# Title Sep 26 - 28 Sep 19 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Eagle Eye $ 29,150,721 3,510 1 $ 8,305 $ 29,150,721 Paramount
2 Nights in Rodanthe 13,418,454 2,704 1 4,962 13,418,454 Warner Bros.
3 Lakeview Terrace 6,966,711 15,004,672 -53.6 2,467 2 2,824 25,667,507 Sony
4 Fireproof 6,804,764 839 1 8,111 6,804,764 Samuel Goldwyn
5 Burn After Reading 6,196,269 11,028,257 -43.8 2,649 3 2,339 45,567,391 Focus
6 Igor 5,383,912 7,803,347 -31.0 2,341 2 2,300 14,222,701 MGM
7 My Best Friend's Girl 3,882,912 8,265,357 -53.0 2,636 2 1,473 14,611,423 Lionsgate
8 Righteous Kill 3,709,480 7,424,479 -50.0 3,011 3 1,232 34,711,327 Overture
9 Miracle at St. Anna 3,477,996 1,185 1 2,935 3,477,996 Buena Vista
10 The Family That Preys 3,125,620 7,271,899 -57.0 1,604 3 1,949 32,761,276 Lionsgate
11 Ghost Town 2,930,904 5,012,315 -41.5 1,512 2 1,938 9,221,951 Paramount
12 The Women 2,646,716 5,417,780 -51.1 2,642 3 1,002 24,072,805 Picturehouse
13 The Dark Knight 1,664,421 2,915,174 -42.9 1,406 11 1,184 524,474,684 Warner Bros.
14 Choke 1,319,286 435 1 3,033 1,319,286 Fox Searchlight
15 The House Bunny 1,247,662 2,662,650 -53.1 1,918 6 651 47,358,203 Sony
16 Tropic Thunder 1,184,950 2,556,241 -53.6 1,354 7 875 108,768,665 Paramount
17 Vicky Cristina Barcelona 665,544 951,512 -30.1 443 7 1,502 20,411,318 MGM
18 Mamma Mia! 577,185 1,046,575 -44.9 717 11 805 142,195,370 Universal
19 The Duchess 563,075 190,426 195.7 55 2 10,238 830,007 Par. Vantage
20 Journey to the Center of the Earth 519,737 768,325 -32.4 510 12 1,019 99,785,882 New Line
Top 5 $ 62,536,919 $ 49,526,112 26.3
Top 10 82,116,839 72,805,930 12.8
Top 20 95,436,319 83,148,362 14.8
Top 20 vs. 2007 95,436,319 84,970,501 12.3

Last Updated: September 29, 2008 at 6:00PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 8:50am ET.