B.O. Analysis Mar. 15: Dwayne Johnson ‘Races’ … Steadily

The first “down” weekend in six weeks (tough to beat this weekend last year, which was led by Horton Hears a Who! and its $45 million debut), but a great weekend for Disney’s Race to Witch Mountain and its star Dwayne Johnson, who has proven himself to be a major box-office draw with a $25 million debut.

Capitalizing on the success of Disney’s The Game Plan (2007) and Johnson’s major family appeal, Witch Mountain offered families a great PG-rated adventure that became a pretty nice “vacation substitute” in the form of a couple of fun hours in a movie seat. Not to mention the nostalgia that some parents may have felt for the Witch Mountain brand, which delivered a couple of films in the mid-’70s. Perhaps a new franchise is born …

In the second spot, Watchmen held better than many had expected with strong mid-week grosses, and a second weekend drop of 67 percent; now its total is at the $86-million mark with a weekend total of just over $18 million.

In third place is The Last House on the Left with an expectation meeting $14.7 million and a solid per-theatre average of over $6,000. As is typical for this genre, budgets stay in check and profitability is thus assured. The original 1972 Wes Craven version was, in its time, notorious for its brutal violence, and this version delivered the goods with solid R-rated intensity.

At number four, Taken is just begging to become part of box-office folklore as it drops only 9 percent in its seventh weekend (I repeat, ONLY 9 PERCENT IN ITS SEVENTH WEEKEND!) of release and continues to hold audiences for a king’s ransom as this silent giant zooms past the $126-million mark.

Finally, rounding out the top five is Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, which will wind up as the first Perry film to cross the $100-million mark as it now stands at $83.3 million and is continuing to do well with only a 40 percent fourth weekend drop.

No discussion of this weekend would be complete without Overture Film’s Sunshine Cleaning and its amazing opening weekend theater average of $53,500. This marks the highest opening weekend theater average thus far for all films released in 2009 (including wide releases) and portends a great expanded release run beginning on Mar. 20.

This weekend may have been “down” in terms of box office, but next weekend looks very strong with the debuts of I Love You, Man, Duplicity and Knowing.


1. NEW! Race to Witch Mountain (Disney) – $25M; 3187 theaters; $7,844 PTA

2. Watchmen (Warner Bros.) – $18M; 3611 theaters; $5,004 PTA; -67%; $86M cume

3. NEW! The Last House on the Left (Universal) – $14.6M; 2401 theaters; $6,105 PTA

4. Taken (Fox) – $6.6M; 2858 theaters; $2,327 PTA; -9%; $126.8M cume

5. Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail (Lionsgate) – $5.1M; 2203 theaters; $2,329 PTA; -40%; $83.2M cume

6. Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) – $5M; 2578 theaters; $1,949 PTA; -26%; $132.6M cume

7. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Sony/Columbia) – $3.1M; 2281 theaters; $1,359 PTA; -25%; $137.7M cume

8. He’s Just Not That Into You (Warner Bros.) – $2.9M; 1890 theaters; $1,537 PTA; -28%; $89M cume

9. Coraline (Focus) – $2.6M; 1768 theaters; $1,502 PTA; -18%; $69.1M cume

10. NEW! Miss March (Fox) – $2.3M; 1742 theaters; $1,323 PTA