Eagle Eye Sets Its Sights on the Top Spot

While the first Presidential election debate between Obama and McCain may have kept some people home on Friday night, the box office was up this weekend from last, thanks to the release of DreamWorks’ Eagle Eye, an action-thriller that brought in $29.2 million from 3,500 conventional and IMAX theaters to become the fourth-biggest September opening ever. The movie reunited actor Shia LaBeouf with D.J. Caruso, director of his 2007 sleeper hit Disturbia; while the tech-enhanced thriller is now Caruso’s top opener, it only made a little more in its first weekend than LaBeouf’s turn in last year’s blockbuster Transformers made its first full opening day.

The reunion of Richard Gere and Diane Lane in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Bros.) grossed $13.6 million its opening weekend in 2,700 theaters for a solid second place. It’s both actors’ best opening weekend since they were teamed in the 2002 thriller Unfaithful, which opened with $14 million. (We’re not counting Jumper for Lane because she only had a cameo in the film.)

Last week’s #1, Screen Gems’ thriller Lakeview Terrace starring Samuel L. Jackson dropped 53% in its second weekend, taking third place with $7 million and a total gross of $25.7 million.

The inspirational drama Fireproof (Samuel Goldwyn) starring Kirk Cameron may have been the weekend’s biggest surprise, as it became the biggest opener for the indie distributor, grossing $6.5 million in 839 theaters, scoring the second-highest per-theater average in the Top 10. The movie’s amazing opening weekend could be traced back to church groups who pushed advance sales of the spiritual movie, making it the third-highest opening “Christian” movie, not including Disney’s “Narnia” films.

Joel & Ethan Coen’s dark comedy Burn After Reading (Focus Features) dropped down to 5th place with $6.2 million and a grand total of $45.5 million after three weeks, putting it slightly ahead of the Oscar-winning bros’ 2000 hit O Brother, Where Art Thou? as their second highest-grossing film.

MGM’s G-rated animated comedy Igor, featuring the voice of John Cusack, held up well in its second weekend, bringing in $5.5 million, off just 30% from its opening weekend, to bring its total to $14.3 million.

The police crime-thriller Righteous Kill (Overture) starring De Niro and Pacino took 7th place with $3.8 million, moving ahead of Lionsgate’s R-rated romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Girl, co-starring Kate Hudson, Dane Cook and Jason Biggs, which dropped 54% and 5 places to also end up with $3.8 million in its second weekend. Righteous Kill has grossed $34.8 million in three weeks, while My Best Friend’s Girl brings its total to $14.5 million after ten days.

Opening in ninth place, Spike Lee’s highly-anticipated war movie Miracle at St. Anna (Touchstone Pictures) grossed just $3.5 million in 1,185 theaters, a weak per-theater average of under $3,000 per site, making it the biggest bomb of the new movies in wide release. Although Lee’s biggest movie is reported to have a budget of $45 million, roughly 85% of that coming from European backers.

Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) rounded out the Top 10 with $3.2 million, another large drop from its previous weekend. So far, it’s grossed $32.8 million in three weeks, making it doubtful that it will gross the $41 million made by Perry’s last film, Meet the Browns.

Clark Gregg’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke, starring Samuel Rockwell, opened in 435 theaters, bringing in $1.3 million for a 14th place opening with an average of $3,000 per site. Neil Burger’s The Lucky Ones (Roadside Attractions) didn’t fare as well, grossing just $208,000 in a similar number of theaters.

The Top 10 grossed $82.1 million, about $10 million more than the Top 10 made in the same September closing weekend last year.

Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films.