Box Office News

B.O. Analysis Mar. 29: A 'Monsters vs. Aliens' Invasion

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May 11, 2009 | 1:21pm EDT

As expected, Monsters vs. Aliens tops the chart, while The Haunting in Connecticut finishes strong at number two.

With all this talk about strong recessionary movie-going, it is ultimately the appeal of the films in the marketplace that truly drives the box office. After two consecutive “down” weekends, this weekend rebounded in a big way as two newcomers hit it big and last weekend’s hits posted minimal drops.

It took the monsters and their alien foes to revive the box office as Dreamworks 3-D animated Monsters vs. Aliens posts the biggest opening of the year thus far with a whopping $58.2 million debut. This latest 3-D success only further proves the viability and box-office drawing power of films released in this format.

To wit, of the 7,300 total screens for Monsters vs. Aliens, 2,080 were in 3-D and accounted for 56 percent of the box office; in other words, 28 percent of the screens accounted for 56 percent of the box-office.

On approximately 1,700 screens, the RealD 3-D presentations represented $25 million of the $58.2 million weekend box office for a per-screen average of about $14,000. On just 143 screens, the IMAX 3-D presentations earned $5.2 million (that’s over $36,000 per screen!) and thus accounted for nine percent of the total weekend and represented the largest debut ever for a film in IMAX 3-D. In addition, 18 of the top 20 performing locations had IMAX screens.

At number two, Lionsgate’s The Haunting in Connecticut earned a better than expected $23 million and thus, again, shows that a solid counter-programming strategy can pay off especially well with a PG-13-rated horror movie. As is typical for the genre, the film had a modest budget and with a great marketing campaign that stressed that the film is based on a true story, the box-office results exceeded expectations.

The number three and four films both posted modest second weekend drops with Nicolas Cage’s Knowing dropping just 40 percent and Paul Rudd’s I Love You, Man dropping a miniscule 29 percent. It is the strength of these and other hold-overs throughout the year that have been providing a solid “depth” to the marketplace and is helping to drive this year’s stellar box office. It is not just about how well films open, but rather how they hold in the long term and continue to contribute to a strong box-office bottom line.

This weekend, look for the fourth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise to race off the starting line as audiences line up to see the reunited cast from the first film. Also expanding into 500 theaters is Overture Film’s Sunshine Cleaning and debuting from Miramax is Adventureland.

THREE-DAY STUDIO ESTIMATES

1. NEW! Monsters vs. Aliens (Paramount) - $58.2M; 4104 theaters; $14,181 PTA

2. NEW! The Haunting in Connecticut (Lionsgate) - $23M; 2732 theaters; $8,422 PTA

3. Knowing (Summit) - $14.7M; 3337 theaters; $4,407 PTA; -40%; $46.2M cume

4. I Love You, Man (Paramount) - $12.6M; 2717 theaters; $4,637 PTA; -29%; $37M cume

5. Duplicity (Universal) - $7.5M; 2579 theaters; $2,930 PTA; -46%; $25.6M cume

6. Race to Witch Mountain (Disney) - $5.6M; 3268 theaters; $1,725 PTA; -56%; $53.2M cume

7. NEW! 12 Rounds (Fox) - $5.3M; 2331 theaters; $2,274 PTA

8. Watchmen (Warner Bros.) - $2.7M; 2010 theaters; $1,371 PTA; -59%; $103.2M cume

9. Taken (Fox) - $2.7M; 1961 theaters; $1,402 PTA; -32%; $137M cume

10. The Last House on the Left (Universal) - $2.6M; 2251 theaters; $1,160 PTA; -55%; $28.4M cume

Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.

LAST WEEK'S B.O.: Nicolas Cage Is All-'Knowing'

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