Weekend Box Office (October 26 - 28, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND For the third straight year, the weekend before Halloween was ruled by a $30M+ opening from the Saw franchise proving that the horror series is still the top choice for those looking for a scare. While Saw IV debuted at number one with a brutal box office bow, the romantic dramedy Dan in Real Life starring Steve Carell opened impressively in second place and made for a popular counter-programming choice for those not interested in blood and gore. Overall, the North American box office came back to life as the top ten was about even with this same weekend in each of the last two years when by no coincidence earlier Saw installments reigned supreme.

Lionsgate's wildly successful fall movie slate welcomed another hit with Saw IV which topped the charts with a $31.8M launch, according to final studio figures, taking in more ticket sales than the next four films combined. It was the largest debut for any film since the comedy Superbad in mid-August, the best opening for any horror film this year, and proved that the distributor's highly profitable franchise was still a big hit with fans. Premiering in 3,183 theaters, the R-rated torturefest averaged a gruesome $9,977 per site. The performance was a bit below the $33.6M opening of Saw III from this weekend last year and a hair ahead of the $31.7M start for Saw II in 2005. Those films reached $87M and $80.2M, respectively in the domestic market. As the fourth installment in a horror franchise, Saw IV should suffer rapid erosion in the weeks ahead, but a muscular final gross of roughly $70M could still result.

Buena Vista delivered a strong start for its comedy-drama offering Dan in Real Life which bowed to $11.8M from 1,921 theaters for a solid $6,148 average per venue. The Steve Carell vehicle about a widower who falls for his brother's girlfriend posted impressive numbers given its moderately wide release and benefited from the studio's sneak previews last weekend which helped to spread word-of-mouth for a film that was not necessarily an easy sell. Critics had mixed feelings but were generally pleased with Dan.

With Saw IV stealing away the horror crowd, the vampire thriller 30 Days of Night fell sharply in its second weekend dropping 57% to third place with $6.9M. Sony's $30M fright flick has scared up $27.5M in ten days and looks headed for about a $40M finish.

Disney's family comedy The Game Plan enjoyed a great hold in its fifth frame sliding only 25% to $6.1M for a $76.9M cume. Lionsgate found itself in fifth with Why Did I Get Married? which grossed $5.6M, off 54%, giving the Tyler Perry hit $47.2M to date. So far this fall, the distributor has opened four films with debut averages of over $5,000 including two with averages about $10,000.

A pair of well-reviewed adult dramas followed suffering only small declines. George Clooney's Michael Clayton dipped only 26% to $4.9M giving Warner Bros. a solid $28.7M to date. Miramax witnessed a good sophomore hold with its Ben Affleck-directed mystery Gone Baby Gone which took in $3.8M, down just 31%, pushing the ten-day total to $11.2M.

The latest re-release of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas fell 35% to $3.45M giving the Disney title $10.1M from its limited engagement. Sony's crime drama We Own the Night followed dropping 37% to $3.4M giving the Mark Wahlberg-Joaquin Phoenix pic $25.1M thus far. Rounding out the top ten was the sports spoof comedy The Comebacks which collected $3.37M in its second weekend, down a moderate 39%, and put its sum at $9.9M after ten days. A $17-19M final is likely.

Two star-driven underachievers dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The Reese Witherspoon-Jake Gyllenhaal drama Rendition declined by 42% in its second frame taking in $2.4M for a ten-day tally of just $7.8M. A $13-15M final should result for New Line. Paramount's Ben Stiller flop The Heartbreak Kid tumbled 54% to $1.8M leaving the pic with only $35.1M overall. The Farrelly brothers project will struggle to reach $39M.

Generating a scorching bow in a platform launch in New York was Sidney Lumet's critically acclaimed drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead which grossed $73,837 from only two houses for a strong $36,919 per site. ThinkFilm reported that numerous moviegoers were turned away at sold out shows on Friday and Saturday and that the film will expand into six additional markets for a total of 50 locations this Friday.

Also showing strength in its debut was the inspirational tale Bella with $1.3M from 165 playdates for a solid $8,051 average. The Roadside Attractions release targeted the Latino and faith-based audiences and won the Audience Award at Toronto last year.

The top ten films grossed $81.2M which was off 3% from last year when Saw III debuted in first place with $33.6M; and down a scant 2% from 2005 when Saw II opened in the top spot with $31.7M.

Compared to projections, Saw IV debuted a bit ahead of my $29M forecast as did Dan in Real Life compared to my $9M prediction.

For NEW reviews of both Saw IV and Dan in Real Life visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Bee Movie, American Gangster, and Martian Child all open.

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

# Title Oct 26 - 28 Oct 19 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Saw IV $ 31,756,764 3,183 1 $ 9,977 $ 31,756,764 Lionsgate
2 Dan in Real Life 11,809,445 1,921 1 6,148 11,809,445 Buena Vista
3 30 Days of Night 6,862,764 15,951,902 -57.0 2,859 2 2,400 27,480,907 Sony
4 The Game Plan 6,129,720 8,178,646 -25.1 3,342 5 1,834 76,939,167 Buena Vista
5 Why Did I Get Married? 5,643,899 12,186,011 -53.7 1,897 3 2,975 47,204,260 Lionsgate
6 Michael Clayton 4,924,374 6,677,272 -26.3 2,585 4 1,905 28,668,168 Warner Bros.
7 Gone Baby Gone 3,817,451 5,501,406 -30.6 1,713 2 2,229 11,226,975 Miramax
8 The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D 3,446,012 5,330,101 -35.3 564 2 6,110 10,100,435 Buena Vista
9 We Own the Night 3,395,012 5,420,793 -37.4 2,402 3 1,413 25,065,018 Sony
10 The Comebacks 3,371,708 5,554,594 -39.3 2,812 2 1,199 9,925,268 Fox
11 Rendition 2,372,487 4,060,012 -41.6 2,250 2 1,054 7,821,105 New Line
12 The Heartbreak Kid 1,768,720 3,814,636 -53.6 2,003 4 883 35,139,137 Paramount
13 The Darjeeling Limited 1,761,335 1,292,778 36.2 699 5 2,520 6,126,748 Fox Searchlight
14 Across the Universe 1,687,341 2,653,475 -36.4 964 7 1,750 19,296,796 Sony
15 Elizabeth: The Golden Age 1,651,340 3,150,180 -47.6 1,603 3 1,030 14,058,975 Universal
16 Into the Wild 1,596,037 2,138,403 -25.4 658 6 2,426 8,963,944 Par. Vantage
17 Bella 1,328,448 165 1 8,051 1,328,448 Roadside Attractions
18 The Kingdom 1,232,210 2,326,630 -47.0 1,053 5 1,170 45,951,010 Universal
19 Lars and the Real Girl 926,675 188,603 391.3 296 3 3,131 1,330,732 MGM
20 Things We Lost in the Fire 731,976 1,561,949 -53.1 1,142 2 641 2,849,142 Paramount
Top 5 $ 62,202,592 $ 48,548,425 28.1
Top 10 81,157,149 72,675,373 11.7
Top 20 96,213,718 88,707,511 8.5
Top 20 vs. 2006 96,213,718 99,090,045 -2.9

Last Updated: October 30, 2007 at 12:45AM ET

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