Couples Retreat Enjoys Holiday in the Box Office Sun

The Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

After Martin Scorsese’s thriller Shutter Island was pushed back to 2010, there was a shake-up in the October release schedule, which ended up leaving Vince Vaughn’s tropical vacation comedy Couples Retreat as the only wide release, and it certainly paid off, as the movie opened with an estimated $35.3 million this weekend in 3,000 theaters, making it the sixth-biggest opener for the month. Despite horrendous reviews, audiences were looking for laughs and the $70 million budget comedy brought together a strong ensemble comedy cast, not only teaming Vaughn with his long-time collaborators Peter Billingsley, making his directorial debut, and Jon Favreau, but surrounding them with the likes of Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Kristin Bell and Kristen Davis. Audiences reporting to CinemaScore rated the movie a B, similar to Four Christmases, Vaughn’s last movie with Reese Witherspoon.

Dropping to second place with a marginal 40% from its #1 opening, Sony’s Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, made $15 million in its second weekend bringing its total to $47.8 million. Sony also held third place with their hit animated comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which added another $12 million to its box office total of $96.2 million.

Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story 3D Double Feature took in $7.7 million for fourth place in its second weekend of limited release in Disney Digital 3D theaters. It has grossed $22.7 million in ten days with no word whether its run might be extended.

The biggest surprise of the weekend had to be the explosive success of Oren Peli’s low-budget horror flick Paranormal Activity (Paramount), as it jumped into the Top 10 at #5 with $7.1 million in just 159 theaters, an astounding per-theater average of over $44k per venue. That is similar to the record theater average set by Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds last year, although that was in nearly four times as many theaters. Produced for roughly $11,000 two years ago, the movie has been given one of the most innovative marketing and distribution campaigns ever via Paramount’s Demand It! site, which opened the movie in cities that received the most demands. After two weeks playing midnight-only shows in those cities, Paramount gave the movie a full release in over 40 cities, and by Friday night, the movie had attained the company’s mandated “one million demands” in order to warrant a wide release. Paramount plans on opening it nationwide this coming Friday, October 16, although it hasn’t been revealed yet how many theaters/cities will get it.

In sixth place, the Bruce Willis action flick Surrogates (Disney/Touchstone) added another $4.1 million to its box office total of $32.5 million, still less than half its reported $80 million budget. The comedy The Invention of Lying (Warner Bros.), starring Ricky Gervais, dropped to seventh place, down 52% from its opening to make $3.4 million with a total of $12.3 million.

Drew Barrymore’s Whip It, Michael Moore’s doc Capitalism: A Love Story (Overture Films) and the remake of Fame (MGM) followed with $2.8, 2.7 and 2.6 million, respectively, for eighth through tenth place.

The Top 10 grossed roughly $92.6 million, up 14% from the same weekend last year where Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua retained the top spot with $17.5 million.

Some of the highlights in limited release include Chris Rock’s comedy doc Good Hair, which opened in 14th place by grossing $1.1 million in 186 theaters. Opening in four theaters in New York and L.A., the critically-lauded An Education (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina, grossed approximately $162 thousand or an average of $40k per site. By comparison, Michael Sheen’s soccer biopic The Damned United (Sony Pictures Classics) took in $36 thousand in 6 theaters, while “High School Musical” star Corbin Bleu’s movie Free Style (Samuel Goldwyn) bombed by grossing just over $100 thousand in 261 theaters. (That’s less than $500 per site.)

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


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