'Stomp' Stamps Out 'Hitcher'
It was slow-going at the weekend box office with one minor new wide release (The Hitcher) and the expansion of several Oscar hopefuls. Stomp the Yard and Night at the Museum repeated atop the chart and holdovers generally saw modest declines, but overall business was down 18 percent from the same frame last year when Underworld: Evolution debuted.

Stomp the Yard held better than most of its hip-hop dance counterparts like Step Up and You Got Served, dropping 44 percent to $12.3 million for $40.6 million in 10 days.

Holiday holdovers Night at the Museum and The Pursuit of Happyness remained firmly in the game, easing around 30 percent apiece. Night drew $12 million and, with $204.9 million in 31 days, became the fifth highest grossing movie from 2006, surpassing Superman Returns. Pursuit earned $6.3 million for $146.1 million in 38 days and will reach the top ten from 2006.

The latest horror remake to stall, The Hitcher picked up $7.8 million at 2,831 sites, comparable to the similar Joy Ride though it sold about twice as many tickets as the 1986 original did in its opening weekend. Released by Focus Features' genre label Rogue Pictures, The Hitcher is from the producers of the successful The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror remakes, but those worked in part due to the infamy of their brands. In the current horror bandwagon, the remakes fizzle when based on distant titles (Black Christmas, House of Wax, The Wicker Man, etc.) that often are unrelatable today, such as The Hitcher's hitchhiker-from-hell premise.

Seeking a theatrical foothold in time for the announcement of their expected Academy Award nominations on Jan. 23, The Queen, Babel, The Last King of Scotland, Pan's Labyrinth, Letters from Iwo Jima and Dreamgirls expanded significantly. The long-percolating The Queen was the most dramatic, jumping from 344 theaters to 1,586. The resulting $3.4 million was decent, and the royal drama has amassed $35.6 million in 114 days.

The most potent expansion belonged to Pan's Labyrinth. The foreign horror leapt to 609 sites and conjured $4.5 million, more than doubling what it did last weekend for $9.9 million in 24 days. Results were far more modest for Babel's wide re-launch ($2.1 million at 889 locations) and the first major roll-outs of The Last King of Scotland and Letters from Iwo Jima.

Dreamgirls held up after last weekend's mixed expansion, fueled by new ads trumpeting recent awards as well as additional theaters and little else of interest in the market. Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks' musical eased four percent to $8 million at 2,214 venues, accumulating $77.4 million thus far.

Next weekend, the parade of Oscar contenders continues following the nominations with the roll-outs of The Departed to around 1,300 theaters, Notes on a Scandal to around 600 and Volver to over 500.


• Scott Holleran: 2006 Retrospective

• 1/23/06 - 'Underworld' Lords Over 'New World' (Same Weekend, 2006)

• 1/24/05 - 'Are We There Yet?' Rolls in at No. 1 (Same Weekend, 2005)


Weekend Box Office Results

• Horror Remakes

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Jan. 21 and was revised on Monday, Jan. 22 with actual grosses.