“Chicken” Rules Roost
The sky didn’t fall on Chicken Little.
For the second straight weekend, the Disney ‘toon remained the top draw at the megaplex, feathering its news with a very big egg: $32 million from Friday through Sunday, according to estimates from Exhibitor Relations.
The G-rated update of the classic fable, with Zach Braff voicing the lead clucker, only dropped 20 percent from its opening weekend and has now earned an estimated $80.7 million.
With Chicken Little earning a lot, the weekend’s major newcomers had to wrestle over the crumbs.
Opening in second place was Sony’s PG-rated Zathura with $14 million–on par with studio expectations. A sequel of sorts to Jumanji, this F/X-heavy tale about a pair of brothers who get sucked into a sci-fi fantasy world via a magical board game stars Tim Robbins and is directed by Jon Favreau.
Derailed, the Weinstein Co.’s R-rated thriller starring Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen as an imperiled adulterous couple, never got fully on track, opening with $12.8 million in third place. The studio says the film pulled in a solid female audience.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’, the semi-authentic 50 Cent biopic, had the best per-site figures of all the three wide-release newcomers: $7,567. But at just 1,652 theaters, the action drama about the gangsta rap world, directed by Jim Sheridan and costarring Terrence Howard and Viola Davis, only drummed up $12.5 million in fourth place. The film played mainly to young urban audiences, but opened slightly below industry epectations, perhaps impacted by the fatal shooting at a Pittsburgh theater. Since its Wednesday debut, the R-rated Paramount film has earned $18.2 million.
In limited release, Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley as the Jane Austen’s heroine, had a whopping $13,043 per-site average at just 215 theaters to open with $2.8 million–good enough for tenth place on the weekend list. The PG Focus Features release also features Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy and ensemble that includes Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone and Tom Hollander.
In contrast, Chicken Little averaged $8,755 at 3,658 locations; Zathura, $4,344 at 3,223 sites; and Derailed, $5,250 at 2,441 sites.
In really limited release–at just 21 sites–the PG-13 Fox Searchlight release Bee Season, starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche as the emotionally and spiritually conflicted parents of a spelling bee champ, averaged $6,039 for $126,811.
Meanwhile, in its second week, Jarhead dropped 56 percent to $12.3 million, retreating from second to fifth place. The Universal release has grossed $47.1 million.
Still in limited release but gradually expanding, the critically acclaimed biopic Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, earned $1.3 million at 264 theaters. That’s up 31 percent from last week. Now in its seventh week of release, the Sony Pictures release has totaled $6.6 million.
Also gaining more exposure and bigger business was Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, the satirical pulp fiction mystery starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer. Adding 89 sites to play at 169, the Warner Bros release earned $830,000–up 109 percent–to bring its four-week gross to $2.1 million.
The overall box office continued its yearlong downward trend. The top 12 movies grossed $114 million, down 4 percent from last weekend and 15 percent from last year, when The Incredibles was reining. Hollywood is hoping for a jolt next weekend with the opening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Here’s a recap of the top 10 films, based on studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations (final figures are due Monday):
1. Chicken Little, $32 million
2. Zathura, $14 million
3. Derailed, $12.8 million
4. Get Rich or Die Tryin’, $12.5 million
5. Jarhead, $12.3 million
6. Saw II, $9.4 million
7. The Legend of Zorro, $6.6 million
8. Prime, $4 million
9. Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, $3.8 million
10. Pride & Prejudice, $2.8 million
No, I didn’t go to the movies (again) this weekend, but I did have popcorn!
“Chicken” Rules Roost