SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Zombie’ lands at the top

Posted by · 12:46 pm · October 4th, 2009

ZombielandFox may not be able to get teens excited about horror comedy but Sony sure can as “Zombieland” debuted with an impressive $25 million and the number one spot.The studio  makes a killing off these types of relatively low budget genre titles (“Obsessed”, “Lakeview Terrace”) and you have to hand it to the marketing department for turning yet another one into a winner. I mean, this is the studio that can get a film like “21” a $24 million opening weekend and that’s pretty amazing.

Sony holds the runner-up spot as well with the animated hit “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” Another slim drop, this time 33%, gave the film a $16.7 million weekend and $82.4 million in the books already. In a few weeks it’ll become only the fifth film released in September this decade to cross $100 million joining illustrious company like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Remember the Titans.”

“Meatballs” was served a healthy dose of competition by Disney’s 3D double feature of the first two “Toy Story” films. $12.5 million is pretty exceptional for films that are widely available on DVD and were never meant to be seen in 3D in the first place, so Disney can laugh all the way to the John Ratzenberg-voiced piggy bank.

Warner Bros. and Ricky Gervais exceeded mild expectations with “The Invention of Lying” by grossing $7.4 million and stealing fourth place. That’s an improvement over the $5 million of “Ghost Town” and makes Greg Kinnear look like the box office poison in this equation. Gervais is crafting a pretty strange big screen career for himself and this result will help get his next milquetoast idea past the pitch stage.

“Whip It” and “Capitalism: A Love Story” battled it out for sixth place and ended in a virtual tie with $4.9 million each. Since “Capitalism” is on about half the screens, you can call its performance more impressive, but the truth is that neither did enough to really be called a hit. It’s indicative of just how phenomenal Moore’s previous films did at the box office that a nearly $5 million weekend for a documentary is considered a disappointment.

“Surrogates” and “Fame” dropped the requisite 50% each while “Pandorum” suffered worse and quickly exited the top 10. Nothing in the top 10 has been in theaters longer than 17 days.

In Oscar news, “A Serious Man” opened on six screens and grossed a healthy $251,000. That per-screen average is right in line with “No Country for Old Men,” but behind the career high for the brothers set with “Raising Arizona.” “Paranormal Activity” also held strong in its second weekend on only 33 screens and is turning into a successful little experiment from Paramount.

No movies for me this week, but I did get my tickets for “Michael Jackson’s This is It” on opening night, baby!

There’s only one new wide release next week as things get suspiciously quiet at the multiplex. Universal unleashes the date flick “Couples Retreat” and the dearth of other new product alone should guarantee at least $27 million, maybe $30 million if the buzz picks up between now and then.

What’s your take on the lull and the films in release?  Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, October 2, 2009

→ 18 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

18 responses so far

  • 1 10-04-2009 at 12:55 pm

    James D. said...

    The Michael Jackson movie? Seriously?

  • 2 10-04-2009 at 12:56 pm

    Georgie said...

    Zombieland exceeded my expectations and I thought the cameo was brilliant. I also saw Toy Story. Won’t be at the theaters next weekend, but count me in for Where the Wild Things are opening day.

  • 3 10-04-2009 at 1:09 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    James: Why not? I’ll be there.

  • 4 10-04-2009 at 2:03 pm

    Jeremy said...

    “Zombieland” was perfectly decent. Same for “Whip It”. Can’t say I got worked up about either, but I still enjoyed my time at the theatre.

    Does anyone know the expansion plans for “A Serious Man”? I can’t locate online when it’s moving into more cities.

  • 5 10-04-2009 at 2:31 pm

    James D. said...

    I would just feel leery about giving my money to watch a half-baked series of rehearsals to the family that helped kill the guy.

  • 6 10-04-2009 at 2:40 pm

    j said...

    Fail for a # of movies. Zombieland & Toy Story are moderately impressive, as is Meatballs. I’m mostly curious about An Education this weekend.

    Oh, btw, Potter hit 300 mil; whoo. All-time unadjusted #8 in the world.

    Out of 40 weekends, 36x a movie has gotten 10k+ average w/1+ mil weekend total.

  • 7 10-04-2009 at 2:44 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Count me in for This Is It as well.

  • 8 10-04-2009 at 3:05 pm

    andrew said...

    I saw Whip It, and loved it. One of the most enjoyable times at the theater i’ve had in months. Drew sure loved her characters (in a very good way). Too bad it’s making so little.

  • 9 10-04-2009 at 3:10 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    i wanna start the box office discussion of how much where the wild things are might make, anyone have any friggin clue?

  • 10 10-04-2009 at 5:38 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    It must be a James D. thing, as I also have no interest in that postmortem moneywhoring vehicle.

  • 11 10-04-2009 at 7:57 pm

    Joel said...

    I saw “Zombieland.” It was terrific. Less so slightly was “The Invention of Lying,” which I thought was very good but also very problematic.

    “Where the Wild Things Are” will be big, I think.

  • 12 10-04-2009 at 9:17 pm

    Rob said...

    I’m also extremely sad at how poorly “Whip It” did — it’s an audience movie if there ever was one, I guess the audience just wasn’t there. People will be discovering it on DVD for a while.

    Also, “Couples Retreat” looks awful, but the trailer KILLS every time I see it, and men and women seem to want to see it equally. I’m thinking it’ll have a bigger weekend than you predicted, Chad.

  • 13 10-04-2009 at 10:22 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    There’s certainly a story in the lackluster performance of Whip It and Jennifer’s Body. These are the films made by women for women that are often cited as being missing from Hollywood and audiences are giving themselves the reason why.

  • 14 10-05-2009 at 6:32 am

    John said...

    Just how bad is Bright Star’s 1.9 million after 3 weeks now? Where is it likely to end up U.S. B.O.-wise?

  • 15 10-05-2009 at 6:32 am

    John said...

    Just asking because I think it’s really good and feel awful that it seems to be underperforming. Will it still keep expanding?

  • 16 10-05-2009 at 6:36 am

    Mike_M said...

    Zombieland was indeed a great time.

    Couples Retreat looks fun to me, and I will be going with my wife, if only for the fact we were we on Bora Bora for our honeymoon last year while they were filming.

    Hoping to catch A Serious Man this week.

    I think WTWTA will open pretty big, I think kids will want to go but a lot of adults and, both cinema-geeks and hipsters.

  • 17 10-05-2009 at 11:31 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I can’t see Bright Star getting past $7 mil, and that’s assuming it’s kept in theaters and gets a slight awards bounce. That’s not awful but it’s not great either.

  • 18 10-08-2009 at 2:58 am

    j said...

    Hmm, Couples Retreat has an 8% approval rate on RT and a 31 on MC currently. Just behind GI Joe in, ahem, quality, on MC.

    But will it still get more money than A Serious Man & An Education? Hmm.