Samuel L. Jackson’s “scare tactics” in Lakeview Terrace (Sony) have put this Neil LaBute-directed thriller at the top of the box office heap for the three-day weekend. The racially-charged, crooked-cop yarn sold an estimated $4.7M in tickets on Friday, and it should finish the weekend with $13.5M or so.
For Jackson, Lakeview Terrace doesn’t even crack his top 15 openings, settling for a number on par with 2006’s Snakes on a Plane ($13.8M), but it is easily LaBute’s all-time biggest opening, surpassing his dreadful remake of The Wicker Man ($9.6M). The playwright-turned-director became friends with budding superstar Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) while attending BYU, and the square-jawed actor starred in LaBute’s first 2 features–Sundance winner In the Company of Men ($2.8M cume) and Your Friends and Neighbors ($4.7M). Unfortunately, he has drifted from edgy, cynical arthouse fare to lesser commercial projects as evidenced by the 43 percent Fresh score for Lakeview Terrace on Rotten Tomatoes (still better than the 15 percent Fresh registered by The Wicker Man).
The weekend’s No. 1 movie also stars Patrick Wilson, a Golden Globe nominee for HBO’s Angels in America and the star of Todd Field’s excellent Little Children. Lakeview Terrace is by far his most commercial film, and, with Passengers (Sony) and Valkyrie (MGM/UA) due by the end of the year and Zack Snyder’s hyper-buzzed Watchmen (Warner Bros) set for March, it is probably just a next step to super-stardom.
The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading (Focus) is solidly at No. 2 for Friday with an estimated $3.42M. That should translate to an excellent $11.3M, down just 41 percent from opening weekend. By Monday the goofball spy comedy will have banked $36.4M making it the all-time third-best grossing movie from Joel and Ethan Coen, trailing only last year’s Oscar winner No Country For Old Men ($74.2M cume) and The Ladykillers ($39.8M).
Having the most MySpace friends apparently doesn’t make you a sure-thing at the box office. Dane Cook, the stand-up comic-turned-actor who built his career, in part, on the social networking site MySpace, has flopped in the new Lionsgate comedy My Best Friend’s Girl. The movie, also starring Kate Hudson, scrounged up just $2.85M in opening day ticket sales on its way to a likely three-day of just $7.7M.
Industry tracking seemed to suggest $10M+ for this R-rated comedy, but instead the movie is a step backwards for Cook’s big screen career. My Best Friend’s Girl is only the comic’s fifth-best opening as a lead, behind Good Luck Chuck ($13.6M), Dan in Real Life ($11.8M), Employee of the Month ($11.4M) and Mr. Brooks ($10M). This movie is comparable to his first film vehicle Waiting ($6M opening), and it is hard to see how this one will push past $20M domestic.
Holdovers Righteous Kill (Overture) and Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) are neck-and-neck for the day with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro holding the edge $2.34M-$2.2M. Perry’s film will play stronger with families on Saturday and Sunday, however, so The Family That Preys will likely finish No. 4 with $7.59M compared to $7.2M for Kill.
Two other new wide releases have opened very softly. MGM’s animated Igor managed $1.9M on Friday, and it will likely finish sixth with a disappointing $6.8M. Meanwhile, Ghost Town (Dreamworks/Paramount) from Steven Spielberg pal David Koepp and starring Ricky Gervais (HBO’s Extras) generated just $1.65M in Friday sales, and it is headed for an opening weekend of only $5.5M.
On the specialty front, there is very good news for The Duchess (Paramount Vantage), which debuted at seven locations. With Oscar nominees Keira Knightley (Atonement) and Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) on the marquee, this period costume drama delivered an impressive $62,000 on Friday for a $9,000 Per Theatre Average. The film should wrap the weekend with a $30,000 PTA as it sets up for its platform release.
EARLY THREE-DAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW – Lakeview Terrace (Sony) – $13.5M, $5,479 PTA, $13.5M cume
2. Burn After Reading (Focus) – $11.3M, $4,253 PTA, $36.4M cume
3. NEW – My Best Friend’s Girl (Lionsgate) – $7.7M, $2,957 PTA, $7.7M cume
4. Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) – $7.59M, $3,667 PTA, $28.44M cume
5. Righteous Kill (Overture) – $7.2M, $2,284 PTA, $28.3M cume
6. NEW – Igor (MGM) – $6.8M, $2,907 PTA, $6.8M cume
7. The Women (Picturehouse) – $5.61M, $1,876 PTA, $19.52M cume
8. NEW – Ghost Town (Dreamworks/Paramount) – $5.5M, $3,654 PTA, $5.5M cume
9. The House Bunny (Sony) – $3.29M, $1,232 PTA, $46.22M cume
10. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) – $3.14M, $1,651 PTA, $522.11M cume