Weekend Report: ‘Michael Jackson’ Strikes Top Spot

Michael Jackson's This Is It was all there was as far as new nationwide releases went this Halloween weekend, but it was sufficient to help propel overall business four percent higher than the same timeframe last year.

Though it may not be commensurate with the raft of pre-release hype surrounding the movie and Michael Jackson's death, This Is It performed exceptionally well for a concert picture or music documentary, charting second only to the opening of the Hannah Montana concert. It raked in $23.2 million on approximately 5,500 screens at 3,481 sites, ranking as the fourth highest-grossing Halloween debut on record, and has grossed $34.4 million in five and a half days. Add in foreign grosses of $69.5 million from 98 countries, and This Is It's five-day worldwide haul was $103.9 million, which exceeded the lifetime tally of the Hannah Montana concert.

While morbid curiosity was part of the appeal, spurred on a bit by the Halloween release, This Is It was promoted as a celebration of Michael Jackson's music and a look at his final creation. Ads also played a trick by declaring a two-week-only engagement, in order to encourage people to rush to see the movie, and, once they had, distributor Sony Pictures predictably extended the run. Sony's exit polling indicated that 51 percent of the audience was female, and 62 percent was over 25 years old.

Paranormal Activity continued to scare up significant numbers in its third weekend of nationwide release. Its theater count crept up to 2,404 and business retreated 22 percent to $16.4 million. Its total climbed to $84.6 million in 38 days, eclipsing the final grosses of The Ring Two and The Exorcism of Emily Rose among other supernatural horror movies.

The best one could say about the other major horror release, Saw VI, is that it had a smaller second weekend percentage drop than Saw IV and Saw V. Bleeding 63 percent, Saw VI grossed a meek $5.3 million, lifting its tally to $22.5 million in ten days. At its current pace, its final gross may not even match the opening weekend grosses of the previous four Saw movies.

While the Saw franchise's hemorrhaging has been noteworthy, Where the Wild Things Are has also seen steep declines. It plummeted 58 percent to $5.9 million for a $62.7 million total in 17 days. Law Abiding Citizen and Couples Retreat held better with falls of around 40 percent. Citizen grabbed $7.4 million for a solid $51.5 million in 17 days, while Couples collected $6.5 million for a lively $87 million in 24 days.

Amelia eased 22 percent after expanding to 1,070 sites, but it still only mustered $3 million for a low-flying $8.3 million tally in ten days. The other second weekend pictures, Astro Boy and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, each tumbled close to 50 percent from their poor openings.

Meanwhile, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day debuted at 68 sites and delivered a decent $546,687. Predecessor The Boondock Saints played only five theaters nearly ten years ago and made just $30,471, but it developed a far greater audience on home video and beyond. Distributor Apparition plans to expand the sequel on Nov. 13.

Last Weekend

'Paranormal' Rages, 'Saw' Dulls

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2008 - 'Zack & Miri,' 'Changeling' Contribute to Bleak Halloween

• 2007 - 'American Gangster' No. 1 with a Bullet

• 2006 - 'Borat' Bombards the Top Spot

• 2005 - Welcome to the Cluck: 'Chicken,' 'Jarhead' Top Weekend

• 2004 - 'Ray,' 'Saw' See Robust Starts

Related Chart

Weekend Box Office Results