Modest Holdovers Trail 'Musical,' 'Saw'

by Brandon Gray
Kirk Cameron in Fireproof.

October 27, 2008

While High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Saw V buoyed overall weekend business to a near October high, holdovers packed a modest punch.

Among the highlights, Fireproof had the smallest drop among nationwide releases for the third weekend in a row. The low budget Christian tract eased 17 percent to an estimated $2.1 million in its fifth weekend, lifting its total to $23.6 million in 31 days. That gross would be weak for a major Hollywood release, but it's among the highest in the explicitly Christian-themed niche.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua still had bite, retreating around 40 percent to an estimated $6.9 million in the wake of Disney stable mate High School Musical 3's opening. The talking dog family comedy has scrounged up $78.1 million in 24 days, and it will soon surpass the final tallies of previous Disney dog hits, Eight Below and Snow Dogs. Much has been made of this picture's success amidst the country's financial crisis, as if people were flocking to it for escape. This notion has little merit, because Chihuahua, as popular as it is, is no phenomenon. It's a typically solid family hit and would have been successful even if the economy were bullish, given the picture's historically attractive sub-genre and storyline and its well-executed marketing campaign.

The other highlight and the Fall's top grosser thus far, Eagle Eye, held well in its fifth weekend, down 27 percent to an estimated $5.1 million for an $88 million tally in 31 days. While the thriller's overall gross hasn't quite measured up to the massive marketing blitz mounted by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks, in terms of estimated attendance, it has surpassed such similar movies as Swordfish, The Net and The Game.

The other nationwide holdovers were largely a meager lot. Last weekend's top grosser, Max Payne, descended 57 percent to an estimated $7.6 million. The video game adaptation has been a minor player, grossing $29.7 million in ten days. Marketing relied on the Max Payne brand and not much else. To the uninitiated, commercials made the movie look like a Constantine knock-off and lacked much in the way of story or character.

While more successful than the presidency of its namesake, W. dipped 49 percent to an estimated $5.3 million for an inconsequential $18.7 million in ten days, trailing such comparable pictures as Primary Colors and Man of the Year by a wide margin. W. received a lot of press, given the election year, its high profile director (Oliver Stone) and that it was the rare biographical feature released while its subject is still in office. To potential moviegoers, a study or parody of George W. Bush was not unique, because the president has been incessant fodder for the media for years, including comedy shows and movies like Fahrenheit 9/11, rendering W. redundant. The movie's advertising showed the same old Bush jokes, without providing new points.

Another politically-themed movie failed to ignite much interest and has been a much greater box office disappointment than W. Body of Lies bagged an estimated $4.1 million over the weekend, off 40 percent for $30.9 million in 17 days. Marketing for the high profile thriller focused on the presence of its big-name talent, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott, but did not convey a story, let alone a compelling or unique one. Hence, the picture came off as nondescript spy intrigue and action, and not the crackerjack theatrical event it needed to be.

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New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 7/16 (32 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Hotel Transylvania 3' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Hotel Transylvania 3' #1
WEEKLY: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp Tops the Week with $103.9m
DAILY: Thursday 7/12 (40 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 7/11 (35 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 7/10 (38 tracked)