Weekend Box Office (September 28 - 30, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND In a fierce head-to-head battle, The Rock's family comedy The Game Plan upset Jamie Foxx's action thriller The Kingdom and became the first PG-rated film since June to open at number one. The wrestler-turned-actor collected $23M in ticket sales for his first kidpic, according to final studio figures, and exceeded industry expectations going into the weekend. Disney's latest hit comedy averaged a solid $7,396 from 3,103 theaters. Game marked The Rock's second biggest opening ever in a lead role after 2002's The Scorpion King which bowed to $36.1M.

The film is the latest to take a macho action star and put him in a family-friendly situation involving kids. In The Game Plan, The Rock plays a superstar quarterback and stylish bachelor who finds out he has a daughter. The studio found success with the same formula two years ago with Vin Diesel's The Pacifier which debuted much better than expected with $30.6M on its way to an amazing $113.1M. Game Plan also tapped into a family audience starving for entertainment as the past several weeks have been dominated by adult fare and R-rated movies for older teens. Studio research showed that 52% of the audience was female, 53% was under 25, and two-thirds of the crowd consisted of families. With a CinemaScore grade of A, and most October releases offering nothing exciting for kids, Disney should expect playability for many weeks to come.

Settling for the runnerup spot but still generating solid results was The Kingdom which premiered to $17.1M. The Universal release averaged an impressive $6,135 from 2,793 locations. Carrying the R rating, the Peter Berg-directed film finds Jamie Foxx leading a team of FBI agents into Saudi Arabia to investigate an attack on Americans living there. Critics were mixed in their reviews. Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman co-star. Unlike Game Plan, Kingdom faced plenty of competition given that the marketplace offered several other serious films aimed at adult audiences.

Last weekend's top film Resident Evil: Extinction collapsed in its second frame tumbling 66% to $8M for a ten-day tally of $36.8M. The Sony threequel should finish up in the same neighborhood as its predecessor Resident Evil: Apocalypse which grossed $50.7M three years ago at the same time of year.

Lionsgate followed with a pair of pics. The romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck fell 54% to $6.2M for a cume of $23.5M in ten days. A $35M final seems likely. The Western 3:10 to Yuma grossed $4.2M, off only 32%, for a $44M total.

Jodie Foster's crime thriller The Brave One dropped 49% to $3.7M and raised its sum to $30.8M for Warner Bros. New Line's Billy Bob Thornton comedy Mr. Woodchuck followed in seventh place with $2.9M, down 40%, giving the pic $19.6M to date.

The mob pic Eastern Promises fell sharply by 48% to $2.9M for Focus while Universal's teen comedy Sydney White took in $2.6M falling 51%. Cumes stand at $11.3M and $8.4M, respectively.

Jumping into the top ten was the musical film Across the Universe which grossed $2M from only 339 theaters for a solid $5,948 average. Sony widened the release slightly from 276 locations and will continue to expand in the weeks ahead. Universe has banked $5.5M to date in limited release.

Two films from acclaimed directors enjoyed sizzling platform debuts in New York City this weekend. Fox Searchlight's Wes Anderson pic The Darjeeling Limited debuted on Saturday and grossed $134,938 from only two theaters for a powerful two-day average of $67,469. The distrib will add 17 more theaters in six additional markets on Friday. Ang Lee, the first non-white man to win the Oscar for Best Director, debuted his latest film Lust, Caution in one Manhattan location and was greeted with $63,918. Focus will expand the NC-17 film throughout October.

Among arthouse titles expanding, Sean Penn's Into the Wild grossed $631,451 from 33 sites for a sturdy $19,134 average for Paramount Vantage. Warner Bros. averaged $18,470 with its Brad Pitt-Casey Affleck period saga The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford which took in $92,351 from five theaters dipping 38%. Not as lucky as it widened was the Tommy Lee Jones drama In the Valley of Elah which brought in $1.5M from 762 locations for a weak $1,984 average. Cume is $3.4M for Warner Independent.

Dead on arrival in wide release was the ensemble drama Feast of Love with Morgan Freeman. The MGM release opened to $1.7M from 1,200 playdates for a dismal $1,423 average.

Three movies fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Universal's smash actioner The Bourne Ultimatum dropped 39% to $1.7M for a superb $222.8M domestic total. The Matt Damon hit is the year's only threequel to surpass the grosses of both of its two predecessors. A final North American gross of around $229M should result. Overseas, Ultimatum has also overpowered the two prior Bourne pics with its international gross of $161.7M putting the global gross at a stellar $384.5M.

The smash teen comedy Superbad dropped 48% to $1.6M boosting the cume to an amazing $118.9M. Sony should end up with roughly $123M. On the other hand, Freestyle Releasing has captured a mere $10.2M with its fantasy adventure Dragon Wars which is fading fast and should conclude with only $12M.

The top ten films grossed $72.8M which was down 13% from last year when Open Season debuted in first place with $23.6M; but up 2% from 2005 when Flightplan stayed in the top spot with $14.8M.

Compared to projections, The Game Plan powered ahead of my $17M forecast while The Kingdom debuted close to my $19M prediction. Feast of Love was also close to my $2M projection.

For a NEW review of The Kingdom, and NEW DVD reviews of 1408 and Fantastic Four 2, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Heartbreak Kid, The Seeker, and Feel the Noise all open.

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

# Title Sep 28 - 30 Sep 21 - 23 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Game Plan $ 22,950,971 3,103 1 $ 7,396 $ 22,950,971 Buena Vista
2 The Kingdom 17,135,055 2,793 1 6,135 17,135,055 Universal
3 Resident Evil: Extinction 8,036,405 23,678,580 -66.1 2,828 2 2,842 36,826,411 Sony
4 Good Luck Chuck 6,244,066 13,652,001 -54.3 2,612 2 2,391 23,513,142 Lionsgate
5 3:10 to Yuma 4,208,366 6,157,624 -31.7 3,006 4 1,400 43,951,910 Lionsgate
6 The Brave One 3,719,285 7,313,437 -49.1 2,837 3 1,311 30,834,753 Warner Bros.
7 Mr. Woodcock 2,947,402 4,923,896 -40.1 2,195 3 1,343 19,578,594 New Line
8 Eastern Promises 2,938,847 5,641,788 -47.9 1,408 3 2,087 11,281,492 Focus
9 Sydney White 2,569,515 5,196,380 -50.6 2,106 2 1,220 8,449,395 Universal
10 Across the Universe 2,016,224 1,950,871 3.3 339 3 5,948 5,476,433 Sony
11 The Bourne Ultimatum 1,745,475 2,872,565 -39.2 1,461 9 1,195 222,788,180 Universal
12 Feast of Love 1,707,967 1,200 1 1,423 1,707,967 MGM
13 Superbad 1,633,952 3,110,322 -47.5 1,517 7 1,077 118,858,438 Sony
14 In the Valley of Elah 1,512,310 1,266,869 19.4 762 3 1,985 3,438,958 Warner Ind.
15 Transformers (w/ Imax) 1,200,730 1,436,280 -16.4 509 13 2,359 315,175,018 Paramount
16 Rush Hour 3 1,161,100 2,203,545 -47.3 1,152 8 1,008 137,669,996 New Line
17 Halloween 990,099 2,189,266 -54.8 1,245 5 795 56,201,164 MGM
18 Dragon Wars 901,956 2,596,278 -65.3 1,376 3 655 10,213,483 Freestyle
19 Mr. Bean's Holiday 719,325 1,778,595 -59.6 1,262 6 570 31,818,685 Universal
20 Into the Wild 631,451 212,440 197.2 33 2 19,135 930,015 Par. Vantage
Top 5 $ 58,574,863 $ 56,443,430 3.8
Top 10 72,766,136 75,142,871 -3.2
Top 20 84,970,501 89,952,359 -5.5
Top 20 vs. 2006 84,970,501 93,895,330 -9.5

Last Updated: October 1, 2007 at 7:30PM ET

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