Overall business exceeded comparable frames in 2005 and 2006, but lacked an exciting new wide release like last year's Hostel or 2005's White Noise—the top openers, Children of Men and Freedom Writers, did about as much business combined as either of those pictures. What's more, attendance was below the last time the first weekend landed on Jan. 5-7, in 2001 when Cast Away, What Women Want and Traffic were the top three.
Night at the Museum's reign continued with $23.7 million, lifting its total to $163.8 million in 17 days, while The Pursuit of Happyness claimed $12.9 million for $124 million in 24 days.
Children of Men spawned $10.2 million at 1,209 locations for an $11.8 million running tally, which was in the lower range of its dystopian sub-genre but similar to 28 Days Later. Universal Pictures' action drama, produced for around $75 million, debuted on Christmas at 16 theaters to solid numbers, prompting the studio to scrap plans of a 200-theater expansion on this weekend and to go wide instead. Universal's strategy was reminiscent of 12 Monkeys, which the studio opened wide on the same Jan. 5-7 weekend in 1996. That sci-fi thriller posted $13.8 million at 1,533 sites, which would equal about $21 million today adjusted for ticket price inflation. Universal reported an audience breakdown of 53 percent over 30 years old and even split between genders.
Freedom Writers had a middle-of-the-pack start for an inspirational teacher movie but nonetheless beat modest expectations with $9.4 million at 1,360 venues. Paramount and MTV's $20 million-plus drama will expand to around 2,000 theaters for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, and the studio hopes word-of-mouth—it earned an "A" from moviegoer pollster CinemaScore—will grow the audience, which its exit polling indicated was 62 percent under 21 and slightly female. Freedom Writers recalled Dangerous Minds, which debuted to $14.9 million at 1,348 theaters in 1995 (or about $23 million adjusted).
Also opening, Lionsgate's Happily N'Ever After was promoted as being from the producer of the Shrek movies but it wasn't even the next Hoodwinked among fractured fairy tales. The computer-animated comedy plucked an anemic $6.6 million at 2,381 sites. New Line Cinema's $20 million spy comedy, Code Name: The Cleaner, blanked out as well with $4.2 million at 1,736 theaters, which was near the bottom of its sub-genre.
Among wide holdovers, Blood Diamond experienced by far the smallest decline, down 22 percent to $3.8 million for $43.9 million in 31 days.
• 1/9/06 - 'Hostel' Lodged Into Top Spot (Same Weekend in 2006)
• 1/10/05 - 'White Noise' Resonates (Same Weekend in 2005)
• Weekend Box Office Results
• Near Future Movies
• Inspirational Teacher Movies
• Computer Animation
• Spy Comedies
NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Jan. 7 and was revised on Monday, Jan. 8 with actual grosses.