January 14, 2009

Box Office Update 1/9-1/11: Gran Torino Surprises All Comers to Take Top Spot

This past weekend offered up at least one big surprise, at least to this writer. I was completely expecting the comedy Bride Wars to clean up at this weekend. Not necessarily be a blockbuster, mind you, but definitely draw enough to easily win the weekend. Imagine my surprise to see a movie other than Bride Wars at the top. I was a little shocked to say the least, but I was also a little bit happy.

The top film turned out to be Gran Torino. Not once did I expect Clint Eastwood's second film of 2008, and second Oscar hopeful, to be sitting securely in the number one slot. I am not disappointed at all, it actually makes me smile. Gran Torino is a powerful movie that seems rather simple on the surface, yet has a way of getting into your head and making you actually think about what is being said. It is a wonderfully written story with characters to care about, an emotional toll that you never see coming. Whether or not it will be able to sustain an audience is yet to be seen, but it is great to see a smart film making a connection with its audience.

Coming in well off the pace was my presumed winner, Bride Wars. The film has been savaged by critics and does not appear to be any great piece of entertainment, but it does look like it could be at least a little fun. It does, after all, star Kate Hudson and Ann Hathaway.

Finishing slightly behind Bride Wars, and well above where I was expecting it to finish, is The Unborn with a surprisingly potent opening weekend. It took in just under $20 million. The David S. Goyer film centers on a young woman with mother issues who uncovers a curse and must undergo an exorcism. The trailers look seriously creepy, although I am suspect of its PG-13 rating (a point that I will be able to speak on in the near future). Will it be better than The Invisible? I can only hope.

One other new release made it to the charts this week, the drama Not Easily Broken finished in ninth place. It may look like a low finish, but it opened on about one third of the screens as the other top ten films, and it does boast the third best per-theater average of the top ten. Morris Chestnut stars in this story of a man whose wife is injured in an accident who falls for another woman.

The returning films all fell uniformly in the 50%+ range. I suspect the cold, snowy weather parts of the country experienced had some effect on the charts, but nothing that would have made a big difference in the outcome.

Next week will see a number of new films for the new year. There will be the horror remake My Bloody Valentine:3D, the family comedy Hotel for Dogs, Kevin James return in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the biopic Notorious, and the expansion of the Daniel Craig WWII film Defiance. Another film opening in limited release is one I hope to see, Chandini Chowk to China.

Four movies dropped off the top ten this week: Slumdog Millionaire (11), The Tale of Despereaux (13), Doubt (14), and The Day the Earth Stood Still (15).

This WeekLast WeekTitleWknd GrossOverallWeek in release
114Gran Torino$29,484,388$40,524,5185
2NBride Wars$21,058,173$21,058,1731
3NThe Unborn$19,810,585$19,810,5851
41Marley & Me$11,391,425$123,751,5963
53The Curious Case of Benjamin Button$9,212,515$94,092,3953
62Bedtime Stories$8,802,120$97,432,0933
85Yes Man$6,032,337$89,288,0244
9NNot Easily Broken$5,314,278$5,314,2781
106Seven Pounds$3,818,230$66,748,6864

Box Office Predictions Recap
Not one of my better guesstimation weeks. Some of my dollar predictions were pretty close, but my placings were universally off the mark. My biggest surprises were Gran Torino taking the top spot (which I am happy for) and The Unborn posting surprisingly strong numbers (jury is out until I see the movie).

Here is how the field matched up:

ActualPredictionTitleWknd GrossPrediction
21Bride Wars$21,058,173$22 million
12Gran Torino$29,484,388$17 million


3Marley & Me$11,391,425$14 million
54The Curious Case of Benjamin Button$9,212,515$13 million
65Bedtime Stories$8,802,120$9.5 million
36The Unborn$19,810,585$8 million
87Yes Man$6,032,337$7 million
78Valkyrie$6,617,065$6 million
109Seven Pounds3,818,230$5 million
1110Slumdog Millionaire$3,782,340$4 million


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