Weekend Box Office – ZOMBIELAND Reaps a $25 Million Opening

     October 4, 2009

Zombieland movie image Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone (1).jpg

“Zombieland” is already a financial hit for Sony.  After opening up a big lead on Friday, Ruben Fleischer’s $24 million directorial debut continued to dominate a crowded weekend session, closing Sunday with an estimated $25 million from 3,036 engagements.  And because, lately, the box office has room for only one hit per weekend, new releases like Drew Barrymore’s “Whip It” suffered by comparison.

Title Weekend Total
1 Zombieland $25,000,000 $25,000,000
2 Cloudy w/a Chance $16,700,000 $82,392,000
3 Toy Story 1 & 2 $12,500,000 $12,500,000
4 The Invention of Lying $7,350,000 $7,350,000
5 Surrogates $7,344,000 $26,387,000
6 Whip It $4,850,000 $4,850,000
7 Capitalism: A Love Story $4,850,000 $5,252,000
8 Fame $4,754,000 $16,634,000
9 The Informant! $3,800,000 $26,580,000
10 Love Happens $2,777,000 $18,910,000

Sony also took the number two spot with “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs”, which is holding incredibly well after cutting its theatre count to 2,977. The release of Disney’s “Toy Story 1 & 2” 3D double bill probably made that “Meatball” number a bit smaller (an additional Toy Story Toy Story 2 3-D re-release movie poster (4).jpg$20 million for its third weekend was what Sony was hoping for) but a decline of only 33% over last weekend is fairly amazing – even for a family film with an 86% positive critic rating.

I was one of those people who believed that the response would be much larger for the “Toy Story 1 & 2” re-release.  Yes, a double feature is a big time commitment for parents and sure, the films were only playing in 1,700 theatres. But still!  This is “Toy Story” we’re talking about!  Doesn’t nostalgia count for anything these days?  Even though the film is already available on DVD and Blu-ray, there should be no substitute for the big screen experience.  Before this weekend, Disney execs said that they would wait to gauge audience response before committing to extend the “Toy Story” theatrical run beyond two weeks.  So if you want to catch “Toy Story”, you should probably get on that quick.

The Invention of Lying movie image Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner (1).jpgAs I mentioned on Friday, Warner Brothers didn’t have sky-high expectations for their new Ricky Gervais comedy “The Invention of Lying”… about $5 million for the weekend is where they thought the film would end up.  Or, in other words, dead last among this weekend’s five new offerings.  So color the studio happy to find that “Invention” actually came in fourth in front of both drew Barrymore’s “Whip It” and Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story”.  No budget details for the film were available but, if it follows Gervais’ 2008 feature “Ghost Town”, $20 million is about right.  If so, everyone involved with “Lying” should turn a nice profit at the end of the day.

You might notice that the films at number six and seven have the exact same numbers listed in the “weekend” column.  This is not a typo.  capitalism_love_story_movie_poster_michael_moore_01.jpgThe estimates for both “Whip It” and “Capitalism: A Love Story” were too close to call as of Sunday morning.  The big difference between the two films (aside from form and content) is their theater counts.

Fox Searchlight sent their black roller-derby comedy into about 1,700 theatres and ended up with about $2,800 per venue.  Overture, by contrast, expanded the run of Michael Moore’s latest documentary into 962 theatres for a per screen average of over $5,000.  This is way off Moore’s best-ever opening weekend take for “Fahrenheit 9/11” ($23.9 million from 868 theatres) but that was an incredibly controversial anomaly.  The fact is that, despite those mixed reviews for his latest piece of agit-prop, Moore is still capable of bringing in the bucks.  Overtly anti-capitalist message or not.

Next weekend the barrage of multiple fall releases will finally slow down.  Instead of four to five highly-promo’ed openings, Universal has the weekend nearly to itself with “Couples Retreat” – the new Vince Vaughn comedy.  Only one movie to write about?  More welcome news has seldom been heard.

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