'21' Aces 'Leatherheads'
The box office doldrums continued as three high profile movies failed to score in their debuts and holdovers waned over the weekend. Dropping a decent 37 percent, gambling thriller 21 won by default with an estimated $15.1 million for a cool $46.5 million in ten days, but overall business was a bust again compared to the same weekends of recent years. What's more, after a strong start, 2008 will soon begin trailing 2007 at the same point.

The weekend's most hyped new release, Leatherheads, lumbered to an estimated $13.5 million on approximately 3,300 screens at 2,769 theaters, which was in the average opening attendance range for a period sports movie or a sports comedy but below par when the sport in question is football (most football movies, though, are released during football season). Directed and produced by George Clooney and starring Clooney and Renée Zellweger, the $58 million picture was a hybrid of football and screwball sub-genres and was as disappointing as the actors' past emulation efforts Intolerable Cruelty and Down with Love.

Leatherheads' marketing lacked a consistent message, touting the movie as a battle of the sexes romantic comedy on one hand and a rough and tumble sports comedy on the other, and a clear plot or theme was not communicated amidst the throwback gimmickry. Distributor Universal Pictures' research indicated that more than half of the audience was over 39 years old.

With the widest release among new movies, around 4,100 screens at 3,513 locations, Nim's Island captured a modest estimated $13.3 million, selling fewer tickets than Zathura among children's book adaptations. The $37 million family adventure was produced by Walden Media, known for The Chronicles of Narnia movies, Holes and other adaptations, and rated as a slightly below average start for them. According to distributor 20th Century Fox's exit polling, 60 percent of the audience was female and 51 percent was over 25 years old.

The Ruins excavated a dilapidated $7.8 million estimate at 2,812 sites, landing between The Descent and The Cave among minor horror movies. Also opening, the Rolling Stones concert movie Shine a Light started up with an unsatisfying estimated $1.5 million at 276 venues.

Meanwhile, Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! took a post-Easter break hit, tumbling 49 percent to an estimated $9.1 million for $131 million in 24 days. Past March releases, Ice Age: The Meltdown and Robots, had comparable falls. As for the rest of the weekend's holdovers, it was business as usual.

RELATED ARTICLES• Review: 'Leatherheads'

• 4/9/07 - 'Grindhouse' Dilapidates Over Easter Weekend (Same Weekend, 2007)
• 4/10/06 - 'Ice Age 2' Cools, 'Benchwarmers' Scores, 'Take the Lead' Stumbles (Same Weekend, 2006)

• 4/11/05 - 'Sahara' an Oasis in Box Office Desert (Same Weekend, 2005)


Weekend Box Office Results

• Football Movies

• Period Sports Movies

• Sports Comedies

• Walden Media Franchise