'Messengers' Carry Super Bowl Weekend
Super Bowl weekend showed no surprises as a teen horror and a romantic comedy topped the box office. The two genres tend to be demographically compatible with the big game, which generally scares off most other pictures with its over 60 percent blow to Sunday business. After three years of new Super Bowl milestones, though, neither The Messengers nor Because I Said So came close to previous highs and overall business was down 13 percent from the same frame last year.

Dispatching all comers, The Messengers delivered $14.7 million at 2,528 theaters, which was about average for a supernatural horror. The $16 million movie's creepy kid sub-genre has been done to death in recent years, and The Messengers didn't appear unique or relatable enough to stand out. Distributor Sony's exit polling indicated that 53 percent of the audience was under 21 years old and 53 percent was female.

The Messengers marked the third year in a row that a horror movie has led Super Bowl weekend. The picture also heralded the seventh consecutive year that distributor Sony topped the frame, following The Wedding Planner in 2001, Black Hawk Down in 2002, Darkness Falls in 2003, You Got Served in 2004, Boogeyman in 2005 and last year's When a Stranger Calls, which holds the record at $21.6 million. Sony will attempt an eighth win with next year's Prom Night remake.

Not far behind, Because I Said So bore $13.1 million at 2,526 venues, an opening on par with The Family Stone and Must Love Dogs. Though distributed by Universal Pictures, Because I Said So was produced by Gold Circle, the company behind The Wedding Date, which opened to $11.1 million on Super Bowl weekend 2005. True to its Super Bowl counter-programming, Because I Said So skewed heavily female in Universal's exit polling: women made up 82 percent of the audience, 61 percent of which was over 30.

Last weekend's openers wilted as expected. Epic Movie and Smokin' Aces tumbled 55 percent and 58 percent respectively, while Catch and Release was down an alarming 66 percent. Stalwart Night at the Museum, though, eased 33 percent to $6.4 million, bringing its total to $225 million in 45 days.

Among Best Picture Oscar contenders, the oldest and higher-grossing ones, The Departed and The Queen, continued to be the most popular, though their respective grosses were a modest $2.7 million and $2.3 million. Pitched as audiences' final chance to see it on the big screen in last week's re-launch, The Departed fell 32 percent for a $128.6 million tally in 122 days. The crime thriller hits DVD on Feb. 13, in part to capitalize on the fleeting Academy Awards spotlight that quickly dissipates once the awards are announced (which will be on Feb. 25).

Further demonstrating how Oscar doesn't make an unpopular movie suddenly a moviegoer favorite, Best Picture nominee Letters from Iwo Jima's theater count rose 73 percent yet its gross retreated nine percent to a measly $1.7 million. Clint Eastwood's Japanese World War 2 drama has waged a mere $7.5 million thus far.

On the foreign language flipside, Pan's Labyrinth generated more than twice as much business as Letters over the weekend. The horror fantasy has had a far more aggressive promotional campaign and release strategy than nearly all foreign pictures before it, but it now ranks as the seventh-highest grossing non-Hollywood foreign language movie on record at $21.7 million.


• 2/6/06 - 'When a Stranger' Dials Up Super Bowl Record (Same Weekend, 2006)

• 2/7/05 - 'Boogeyman' Creeps Into First (Same Weekend, 2005)


Weekend Box Office Results

Top Super Bowl Openings

Oscar Nominees & Grosses

Foreign Language Movies

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Feb. 4 and was revised on Monday, Feb. 5 with actual grosses.