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WILD THINGS Tops Box Office

Paranormal Activity's Success Story Continues.

By Jarrod Sarafin     October 18, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are tops Box Office(2009).
© Warner Bros./Bob Trate


With the Halloween festivities set to kick off in the next two weekends, audiences clearly chose to flock to theaters a week early. The top five films of this report all managed $10+ million, the top three films hit at least $20+ million while the one on top crossed the $30+ mark. Decent returns when considering nobody hit the $20 mil mark this same weekend last year.
Warner Bros. executives can breathe a sigh of relief with Where the Wild Things Are launching into 1st place over the weekend. Held back nearly a year because studio officials were nervous about its bankability, requiring director Spike Jonze to go back with more post-production changes, the film racked up an estimated $32.4 million in its first three days of release. With it hitting 3,735 theaters it averaged $8,693 per showing for audiences across the nation and has it in decent shape against a $100 mil budget.
Overture Films also has a successful debut to celebrate with their revenge-thriller, Law Abiding Citizen. The Gerard Butler-Jamie Foxx vehicle grabbed $21.2 million in its first weekend of release, averaging $7,353 per showing in 2,890 theaters. Since the budget was relatively low at just $50 mil, the small distributor has a very good shot of another successful product here.
Most definitely the biggest story of October and possibly the entire fall season is Paramount Pictures’ launch strategy and profitability of Paranormal Activity. Building off the excitement of its previous weekend numbers, the studio expanded their horror release into 760 theaters and somehow found $20.1 million. Those kind of numbers translates to an average of $26,530 per showing. After four weekends of release, the film has a domestic gross of $33.7 million. Incredible numbers for a film which reportedly cost only $11,000 to produce. This film will clearly be the most profitable major release of 2009.
With the new films racking in decent debuts, Universal Pictures’ comedy Couples Retreat dropped down to 4th place by taking in a respectable $17.9 million. Even with the fourth place finish, the studio is in decent shape by earning $63.3 million over the course of its first ten days of release. It doesn’t have very far to go before it hits their budget of $70 million.
And debuting in 5th place is Screen Gems’ remake of The Stepfather. Like most Screen Gems releases, the film’s first weekend tally of $12.3 million means another success story as the genre distributor always keeps their budgets very low. The cost for this production is set at only $20 million.
That does it for the top 5 but before we go, it should be noted that Zombieland found another $7.8 million in 7th place to make it the highest-grossing zombie release of all-time. With this weekend in the bag, the film now has a domestic cume of $60.8 mil. This has leaping past the previous zombie champion, Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead ($59.0 mil). And with quite a few weekends left before it’s pulled from the box office it definitely has some time to pad that lead.

Where the Wild Things Are
$32.4 mil
$32.4 mil
Law Abiding Citizen
$21.2 mil
$21.2 mil
Paranormal Activity
$20.1 mil
$33.7 mil
Couples Retreat
$17.9 mil
$63.3 mil
The Stepfather
$12.3 mil
$12.3 mil
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
$8.1 mil
$108.2 mil
$7.8 mil
$60.8 mil
Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D
$3.0 mil
$28.5 mil
$1.9 mil
$36.3 mil
The Invention of Lying
$1.9 mil
$15.4 mil

Friday October 23, 2009 Releases:
Saw VI (3,000+)
Astro Boy (3,000+)
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2,750+)
Amelia (800)
Ong Bak 2
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D


Showing items 1 - 10 of 14
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Hobbs 10/18/2009 4:29:47 PM

I would guess Paramount is going to open up Paranormal to over 2000 screen this weekend or they are really freaking stupid if they don't.  Everyone is talking about this movie. Hype alone is already making it a monster on less than 1000 screens.  I really think it would beat out SAW this weekend...any word on Paramounts plans?

Zombieland, haven't seen it but will check it out on rental.  Impressive numbers and its stayed alive longer than anyone thought it would.

My wife went with her girlfriends to see Law Abiding citizen this weekend. Gerald Butler reasons of course, but said even without him in the movie it would have still been really good.

myklspader 10/18/2009 5:16:20 PM

 I can see Wild Things falling pretty far and fast next weekend. Overall it was visually good but based on a book with only 10 sentences in it, there was a stretch to make a 95 minute movie. Jonze should be given an A for effort but it wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. 

“Paranormal Activity” was pretty descent all-in-all. At least I dug it. I know other people won't, but hey it was enjoyable (I judge horror flicks on overall fun I had watching it not the amount of gore like most do). 

“Law Abiding Citizen” was OK. I still would have liked less over the top action, build the suspense more and get rid of Foxx and it might have been better than it was, but in the end enjoyable too. 


DaForce1 10/19/2009 12:55:59 AM

Paranormal Activity just looks to be even more stupid than the Saw movies, and after what friends said (who saw it for free and still said it was lame) I'll be skipping it.

WTWTA was good, but something was missing. I'm a fan of both the book and Jonze's movies, so I'm not sure exactly what it was that put me off.

Law Abiding Citizen was the surprise for me. It was fun and thought out fairly well up until about the last 10 minutes. It also has one of the most memorable and shocking on screen deaths of a character I've seen this year. Foxx is a horrible actor, and in every closeup of him all I could see was that character on In Living Color he used to play, with the crossed eyes and screwed up mouth.

I'm hoping Black Dynamite gets a wider release. That's the movie I was really looking forward to seeing.

needaname85 10/19/2009 3:58:02 AM

I might be the only one left in the theater, but Saw VI. Have to keep the opening night streak alive.

Dazzler 10/19/2009 4:52:54 AM

Paranormal was good.  It takes time to invest in the story.  I liked the Blair witch style, makes it seem more real.  Not sure why more movies are like that.  Blair witch should have kept going with sequels like that from other perspectives.  Anyway the ending is the best in Paranormal, and it's a good build up, smart ass boyfriend in the movie is a highlight. 

Law Bidding was good also.  Worth a once viewing.  It's a message movie about how the law does not always work. 

Wild things I am unsure of, probably will wait for cable free on that one.  


wessmith1966 10/19/2009 7:46:21 AM

 I didn't really care for Wild Things, but the kids loved it. They want to dress up like the kid for Halloween and want me to dress up like one of the wild things.

Stepfather was what I expected so I wasn't disappointed.

I'm still waiting for Paranormal Activity to come somewhere close to me.

I'm looking forward to the new Saw movie and the kids want to go see Astro Boy. I'm not sure about The Vampire's Assistant, but I'll probably see that one, too.

pilgram 10/19/2009 7:50:14 AM

Am I crazy or does Paranormal strike anyone else as the current flavor of the Blair Witch? If I see it it better not be a great big old Hype machine behind a little silly movie. If it were not for the last 20 secounds of Blair Witch i would be hunting those two guys down.

Also a quick thought. Is it really fair to compair Zombieland to Dawn of the Dead. One is a comedy the other is a horror. One will and has appealed to a much larger audience than the other. ZL is much more a fair comparison to Shawn of the Dead than Dawn of the Dead. I'm sure it still beats SotD but just saying the comparison seems a little off.

goldeneyez 10/19/2009 8:15:11 AM

I guess I'm not the only one disappointed that Black Dynamite didn't get a wider release.  I'm guessing I'll just have to wait for DVD.

shac2846 10/19/2009 8:56:02 AM

I can't believe people would knock "Paranormal Activity" when in just a few days Saw 6 comes out. Saw 6? Really? I saw paranormal this weekend and while I thought the story was weak the scares in the film and the filmmaking were really good. Do some research on the director. This guy Orin Peli doesn't have any prior film experience and he got Steven Spielberg to back the release of his movie. That is impressive by my standards. Yeah, the movie doesn't look nice and glossy and doesn't have a whole bunch of lame gore and death scenes but it is a damn fine horror picture and it's pretty impressive that he made the movie for 11,000. I've heard some reports of 15,000 but either way they make the Saw movies for a million  a piece. Here's hoping that paranormal mops the floor with Saw next week!!!!!!!!!!!!! If it does maybe they'll stop making those damn things and studios will lay of the gore, torture porn stuff. I won't hold my breathe though.

Would have seen Where the Wild Things Are but ran out of time. Seeing it next weekend, can't wait.

DaForce1 10/19/2009 10:07:36 AM

The "scares" in Paranormal are telegraphed by a bass line. Once you notice it, it becomes boring.

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