‘Punisher’ Among Post-Thanksgiving Turkeys

by Brandon Gray

December 8, 2008

The weekend's most prominent new release, Punisher: War Zone, had a pitiful start, grossing $4.3 million on around 2,700 screens at 2,508 theaters. It was the smallest opening ever for a Marvel Comics adaptation by far, even lower than Howard the Duck, and was a quarter of the previous Punisher movie's opening in terms of attendance.

Punisher: War Zone tried to reboot the franchise after the disappointment of The Punisher in 2004, like The Incredible Hulk versus Hulk from 2003, but its marketing campaign was murky and made no attempt to entice those unfamiliar with the character. What's more, distributor Lionsgate released the similar Transporter 3 last week, stealing some of its thunder.

Also opening, Cadillac Records made almost as much as Punisher: War Zone from a fraction of the theaters, though it was hardly grooving. The music drama notched $3.4 million at 686 sites. Caper picture Nobel Son played to empty houses, snaring $333,912 at 893 locations out of the gate.

In limited release, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire each ranked in the Top 12 again with relatively good numbers, and Frost/Nixon debuted at three sites and garnered $180,708. By virtue of its small theater count, the high-profile drama had a grand per theater average, but it's too early to tell if it's a success or not. Distributor Universal Pictures will roll it out to 39 venues on Dec. 12, followed by a major expansion to around 350 on Christmas day.

'Four Christmases,' 'Twilight' Hold Post-Thanksgiving...

Last Weekend:
'Four Christmases' Rushes Thanksgiving
'Bolt' Holds, 'Twilight' Fades

This Weekend in Past Years:
• 2007 - 'Enchanted' Tops Slow Weekend
• 2006 - 'Happy Feet,' 'Casino' Repeat, 'Nativity' Meek
• 2005 - 'Aeon Flux' Flounders
• 2004 - 'National Treasure,' 'Polar Express' Measure Up

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