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Box Office Analysis, Sept. 21: Samuel L. Jackson on Top with 'Lakeview'

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Sep 21, 2008 | 4:20pm EDT

Samuel L. Jackson has opened at the top of the box office for a second time in 2008. His racially-charged, crooked-cop flick Lakeview Terrace (Sony) has opened at No. 1, as I first reported Friday night, with a $15.6M opening. The movie clearly "clicked" with audiences, surging almost 26 percent on Saturday from Friday's $5.1M opening day, and Sony is anticipating $3.92M today. The three-day for Lakeview Terrace is about 15 percent higher than the $13.5M that I projected Friday night.

Jackson opened at No. 1 back in February with Jumper ($27.3M), but still Lakeview Lakeview Terrace represents only the all-time 13th-best opening for him, about on par with 2000's Rules of Engagement ($15M). It is easily the biggest opening for playwright-turned-director Neil LaBute, 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).

Actor Patrick Wilson's star continues to rise quickly. He opened to excellent reviews on Broadway in All My Sons, also starring John LithgowDianne Wiest and Katie Holmes on Thursday night in New York City. 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.

Lakeview Terrace  is yet another great little hit for Sony. The movie was made for just $20M, and it follows the modestly budgeted hits Pineapple Express and The House Bunny. Both movies were made inexpensively and will finish their runs as wildly profitable projects, and now it appears that Lakeview Terrace  will follow suit.

The Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading (Focus) will finish the weekend at No. 2 in exactly the range I called for Friday night. The studio-estimated $11.29M for the goofy spy comedy was down just 41 percent from opening weekend, and Burn is already the all-time fourth-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).

The new Dane Cook R-rated comedy My Best Friend's Girl (Lionsgate) may put a cramp in the stand up-comic-turned-actor's film career. With an opening of $8.3M and third place finish, the movie 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. 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. 

Igor (MGM), the new low budget animated family film received a much larger-than-expected 64 percent bounce, and that has translated to an estimated $8M and a No. 4 finish. Meanwhile, Righteous Kill (Overture) appears to have nosed out Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) for the weekend $7.7M-$7.5M.

The other new wide release, Ghost Town (Dreamworks/Paramount) starring Ricky Gervais (HBO’s Extras), has stumbled out of the gate with just $5.17M. Written and directed by Steven Spielberg pal David Koepp was on a limited number of screens concentrated on the east and west coasts, but its $3,436 Per Theatre Average was still very soft. 

The Duchess (Paramount Vantage) was the biggest success among specialty releases. The Keira Knightley/Ralph Fiennes period costume drama posted a $29,000 PTA at 7 locations. Appaloosa (Warner Bros), directed by Ed Harris and starring Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger, scored the No. 2 PTA of $18,429 at 14 playdates.

THREE-DAY STUDIO ESTIMATES

1. NEW - Lakeview Terrace  (Sony) - $15.6M, $6,331 PTA, $15.6M cume

2. Burn After Reading (Focus) - $11.29M, $4,251 PTA, $36.4M cume

3. NEW - My Best Friend's Girl  (Lionsgate) - $8.3M, $3,187 PTA, $8.3M cume

4. NEW - Igor (MGM) - $8M, $3,425 PTA, $8M cume

5. Righteous Kill (Overture) - $7.7M, $2,443 PTA, $28.8M cume

6. Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) - $7.5M, $3,623 PTA, $28.35M cumez

7. The Women (Picturehouse) - $5.3M, $1,772 PTA, $19.2M cume

8. NEW - Ghost Town (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $5.17M, $3,436 PTA, $5.17M cume

9. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) - $2.95M, $1,549 PTA, $521.92M cume

10. The House Bunny (Sony) - $2.8M, $1,047 PTA, $45.72M cume

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