1. Where the Wild Things Are - $32.4M - $32.4M
2. Law Abiding Citizen - $21.2M - $21.2M
3. Paranormal Activity - $20.1M - $33.7M
4. Couples Retreat - $17.9M - $63.3M
5. The Stepfather - $12.3M - $12.3M
6. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - $8.1M - $108.2M
7. Zombieland - $7.8M - $60M
8. Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D - $3M - $28.5M
9. Surrogates - $1.9M - $36.3M
10. The Invention of Lying -$1.9M - $15.4M
Where the Wild Things Are got off to a pretty good start. Estimates for this one were all over the place, some as low as $20M and some as high as $40. WB needed above $30M to help recoup the films inflated budget of $80M, partly caused by their own tampering with the project. Hard as it may seem, the film actually began shooting some time in 2006 and if rumours are to be believed it was reshot some time in 2008 (the amount of the reshot footage is still open for debate). This was a tough sell as well, while the book is very well known there's not much frame to hang a film off. Furthermore, reviews weren't universally great with people either loving it or disliking it a great deal. What also didn't help marketing was that it's not quite the family film some (WB) had hoped it might be, ending up more like a kid's film for adults. That said, WB must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Friday estimates arrived. WTWTA needs another solid weekend with a limited drop or Warner's will need to rely much heavier on its international take.
Law Abiding Citizen really broke out quite well, for what looked a very generic, almost straight to video, drama. The biggish names of Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler probably went a long way to getting people to see this tale of revenge. Even with the huge Paranormal Activity (more in a moment) it still managed an above $20M take and it needed it too - word is the film cost the studio a pretty steep $53M. Originally set to be a directorial job for Frank Darabont who dropped out quite late in the day, It was F. Gary Grey who eventually bought the film to screens.
Expanding into a 1000 locations is the word of mouth phenomenon Paranormal Activity. On any other week the film might have even seen a no.1 placing but had to fight against two bigger releases. That said, its screen to take average is nothing short of stunning, with Box Office Prophets reporting it had the 13th best screen/average ever. What'll this mean next weekend when the film expands to 2000 locations? It's hard to say - word of mouth is carrying the film so your more than average film fan would have already sought the film out. That leaves the curious and those less likely to seek the film out in its limited locations. If Paramount strike gold again, we could actually see Paranormal Activity in the top spot on the chart, which is I think, practically unheard of given the film's release schedule so far. Even if the film cost $11,000 to make and had another million or so dollars thrown at it to print and market, it's small change compared to what the film could eventually make.
Couples Retreat just about managed a sub 50% drop in its second frame which is still a bit on the high side for such a broad appeal comedy. Word of mouth may have already killed the film after the initial front loading (and lack of competition) saw it end up with slightly better than expected first frame figures. With at least three wider openers next weekend, Couples Retreat needs to hold on tight or risk being out of the top ten within four weeks of release.
Even a little hyped horror remake managed a good position and take this week. The Stepfather isn't as well recognized as Friday The 13th or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series but it still managed to bring in the horror crowd, who we presume had already seen Paranormal Activity. Chances are this one is already in profit so even with a swift, horror-movie exit from the top ten, will still have performed ok for studio Screen Gems.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs manages to finally cross the $100M mark, recouping its production budget. This should turn out to be quite a profitable flick for Sony who will look to the film's international grosses to cover the prints and marketing costs for the film.
Zombieland fell a little sharper than expected in its third frame on release, but still managed a respectable 47% drop from last weekend. Blame front loading and increased competition for that drop in chart position and takings. But it's largely academic given that the film has nearly tripled its production costs from its US gross alone. Disney must be pleased with Toy Story 1 & 2 in 3D as they're keeping it in theaters until A Christmas Carol turns up in a few weekends time. Originally the film was set for a 14 day release but with $28M in takings so far, it's providing plenty of free advertising for upcoming third part in 2010 while helping to fill Disney's coffers with what is in a large part, free money.
Surrogates and The Invention of Lying round us out this weekend. Neither film has anything to be proud of given their box office take so far but at least Lying should turn a profit a lot sooner than Surrogates thanks to its $18.5M budget.