Newcomers dominate the weekend, and Nicolas Cage proves that older action stars have not worn out their welcome with moviegoers.
Summit’s sci-fi thriller Knowing proves that if you take a major star, plug him into a summer-style thriller and then market the heck out of it, you can grab the number one spot with $24.8 million. While worries about the economic crisis fill the airwaves, escapism took the form of a doomsday scenario in which money, mortgages and debt have no meaning, and thus, had strong appeal for audiences. From his 1990s hits The Rock, Face/Off and Con Air to the National Treasure films in the mid-2000s, Cage has proven his enduring box-office appeal and brand-name recognition with moviegoers.
Paul Rudd is no box-office slouch either as I Love You, Man took the second spot with $18 million giving Rudd his fourth number-two debut in a row (last year, as co-lead in Role Models and with memorable supporting roles in both Forgetting Sarah Marshall and 2007’s Knocked Up — all three films opened at number two) and demonstrating his status as an established comedy brand.
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in Duplicity grabbed the third spot as the Tony Gilroy-directed cat-and-mouse international romp proved to be the brainy cinematic fine-dining experience as compared to the cinematic fast food that the top two films offered. It, therefore, landed in third with a $14.4 million haul. Still arguably the biggest female star in the world, Roberts continues to draw her fans to the multiplex and she, along with co-star Owen, make a great on-screen pair.
At number four, Race to Witch Mountain dropped a modest 47 percent while maintaining its family audience and earns another $13 million while racing toward the $50 million mark. Dwayne Johnson’s PG-rated appeal is in evidence and shows that Disney plus The Rock equals families in the theater.
Rounding out the top 5 is Watchmen, which is on the verge of $100 million domestically after earning $6.7 million this weekend. The film continues to polarize critics and audiences alike, but this film is a guaranteed $100 million+ hit.
On a smaller scale, but no less important, was the expanded run of Sunshine Cleaning, which realized a 222% increase in its second weekend in 60 additional theaters for a solid per-theater average of over $11,000.
The second consecutive “down” weekend as our YTD advantages are unfortunately getting smaller. Hopefully in a week, it will be the “Monsters” and their “Alien” foes saving the planet — and next weekend’s box-office — when Monsters vs. Aliens hits theaters.
THREE-DAY STUDIO ESTIMATES
1. NEW! Knowing (Summit) – $24.8M; 3332 theaters; $7,447 PTA
2. NEW! I Love You, Man (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $18M; 2711 theaters; $6,641 PTA
3. NEW! Duplicity (Universal) – $14.4M; 2574 theaters; $5,595 PTA
4. Race to Witch Mountain (Disney) — $13M; 3187 theaters; $4,080 PTA; -47%; $44.7M cume
5. Watchmen (Warner Bros.) – $6.7M; 3510 theaters; $1,916 PTA; -62%; $98M cume
6. The Last House on the Left (Universal) – $5.9M; 2403 theaters; $2,464 PTA; -58%; $24M cume
7. Taken (Fox) – $4.1M; 2661 theaters; $1,541 PTA; -38%; $133.1M cume
8. Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) – $2.7M; 2067 theaters; $1,306 PTA; -46%; $137.2M cume
9. Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail (Lionsgate) – $2.5M; 1835 theaters; $1,368 PTA; -51%; $87.2M cume
10. Coraline (Focus) – $2.1M; 1431 theaters; $1,497 PTA; -21%; $72.8M cume