Box Office Analysis, Oct. 26: An “A” for ‘HSM3’

In a huge weekend at the box office, Disney’s G-rated High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Lionsgate’s very R-rated Saw V propelled the overall weekend to a massive late-fall $136 million total weekend take.

The $42 million debut for the G-rated HSM3 is the best ever for a movie musical soundly beating the previous record set by the hugely successful Mamma Mia! from Universal, which opened with $27.7 million in mid-July this year (incidentally on the same weekend as Warner’s The Dark Knight).

On the other end of the genre spectrum, Saw V savaged its way to another consistently strong opening weekend for the incredibly popular horror franchise with a $30.5 million take and ensuring the production of a Saw VI, VII, VIII, etc.

Fox’s Max Payne, which opened last weekend at No. 1, dropped to the third spot with $7.6 million and a cume of $29.7 million, while Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua nears the $80 million mark in the fourth spot.

Rounding out the top five was the debut of Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell. The New Line film, distributed by Warner Bros., earned $6.325 million with a per-theater average of around $2,500. In notable limited release was Universal’s Changeling which stars Angelina Jolie. The Clint Eastwood directed film has been generating Oscar buzz and certainly filled seats in the 15 theatres it played in this weekend to the tune of $501,615 for a massive average of $33,441. The film goes into wider release on Oct. 31.

This is the fifth consecutive “up” weekend versus the comparable frame a year ago with a solid 35 percent advantage over last year when Saw IV and Dan in Real Life debuted and thus raises our year-to-date revenue advantage from 0.19 percent last week to 0.57 percent after this weekend’s strong showing.

In all, a terrific weekend that proved that audiences are looking for escapist fare right now, whether it be it from comedies, musicals or horror and so the timing is right for all of these films.

TOP 10 BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES (source: Media By Numbers)

1. NEW! High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney) – $42M; 3,623 theaters; $11,593 PTA

2. NEW! Saw V (Lionsgate) – $30.5M; 3,050 theaters; $9,967 PTA

3. Max Payne (Fox) — $7.6M; 3,381 theaters; $2,248 PTA; -57%; $29.6M cume

4. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) — $6.9M; 3,190 theaters; $2,168 PTA; -39%; $78.1M cume

5. NEW! Pride and Glory (Warner Bros.) – $6.3M; 2,585 theaters; $2,447 PTA

6. Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight) — $5.9M; 1,630 theaters; $3,641 PTA; -44%; $19.2M cume

7. W. (Lionsgate) $5.3M; 2,050 theaters; $2,600 PTA; -49%; $18.7M cume

8. Eagle Eye (DreamWorks/Paramount) — $5.1M; 2,558 theaters; $2,008 PTA; -27%; $87.9M cume

9. Body of Lies (Warner Bros.) — $4M; 2,150 theaters; $1,891 PTA; -40%; $30.8M cume

10. Quarantine (Sony/Screen Gems) — $2.5M; 2,228 theaters; $1,145 PTA; -58%; $28.7M cume