FLOP POP FIZZLE, The Obligatory Weekend B.O. Report: ‘Avatar’ On Top For Fifth Week In A Row & ‘Book Of Eli’ Finishes A Close Second; Paramount’s Test Marketing Proves Key To ‘Lovely Bones’ Success
Avatar came out on top at the box office, beating out the Denzel Washington-starring biblical action/adventure extravaganza, The Book of Eli. The 3-D epic took in another $41M, bringing its domestic total just shy of the $500M mark. It has already grossed over a billion worldwide and, with this week’s earnings, it has overtaken Star Wars to become the third highest grossing movie ever. No wonder George Lucas looked so grumpy at last night’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony where Avatar won for Best Drama and Best Director.
The Book of Eli also had strong audience turnout. It nearly overtook Avatar earlier in the weekend but ultimately came up short with a total of $31M. For Robert and Allen Hughes, otherwise known as The Hughes Bros., the movie marks their first return to directing since From Hell in 2001.
Broderick Johnson, a partner at Alcon Entertainment, which completely financed the film, says the studio had a tremendous amount of faith in the sibling directing team, who had garnered widespread acclaim for their first film, Menace II Society, in 1993. He told the LA Times:
They offer a unique combination of visual hipness with a real creative passion. I was a fan of their earlier movies. They know what’s been done before, what hasn’t been done before, what conventions they want to try to avoid and which ones still work.
The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson‘s adaptation of Alice Sebold‘s 2002 novel, went into wide release after a limited opening on December 16. It took in $17.1M for third place. Its surprising success comes as a result of Paramount’s smart marketing strategy. The studio had originally decided to market it to an older audience due to its dark subject matter (a young girl watches over her family from the great beyond following her untimely death at the hands of a rapist). However, they changed their tune after test research showed that the audience most interested in the movie were young women.
Following a November 19 test screening for the movie, Kevin Goetz, president of the research firm OTX, said:
No one initially thought that 14- to 21-year-old girls would be the sweet spot. They found the movie disturbing, but it didn’t impede their enjoyment
1. Avatar (Fox) $41.3M, Cume $492M
2. The Book of Eli (Alcon) $31.6M
3. The Lovely Bones (Dreamworks) $17.1M, Cume $17.5M
4. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Fox) $11.5M, Cume $193M
5. Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros.) $9.82M, Cume $180M
6. The Spy Next Door (Lionsgate) $9.7M
7. It’s Complicated (Universal) $7.67M, Cume $88.2M
8. Leap Year (Universal) $5.88M, Cume $17.4M
9. The Blind Side (Warner Bros.) $5.57M, Cume $227M
10. Up in the Air (Cold Spring) $5.46M, Cume $62.8M
*Bold indicates the weekend’s new releases.
Source: Box Office Mojo