Tuesday, March 17, 2009

'Witch Mountain' casts box office spell

"Race to Witch Mountain" climbed to No. 1 at the box office with $24.4 million in ticket sales. The Disney sci-fi flick starring Dwayne Johnson bested "Watchmen," the Warner Bros. superhero movie, which earned $17.8 million at No. 2 in its second week.

The Universal horror remake "The Last House on the Left" came in third with $14.1 million.

Despite the better-than-expected success of "Witch Mountain," Hollywood's box office winning streak ended over the weekend.

Factoring in 2009's higher admission prices, the total take was down 16 percent compared to last year, making it the first down weekend in six weeks. Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, does not believe the descent marks the end of the otherwise stellar year at the box office.

"I don't think this down weekend reflects any kind of lack of interest by the audience," Dergarabedian said. "I think it has to do with 'Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who' opening a year ago with $45 million. That's really a tough comparison."

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Media By Numbers LLC:

1. "Race to Witch Mountain," Disney, $24,402,214, 3,187 locations, $7,657 average, $24,402,214, one week.

2. "Watchmen," Warner Bros, $17,817,301, 3,611 locations, $4,934 average, $85,751,993, two weeks.

3. "The Last House On the Left," Universal, $14,118,685, 2,401 locations, $5,880 average, $14,118,685, one week.

4. "Taken," Fox, $6,568,651, 2,858 locations, $2,298 average, $126,752,054, seven weeks.

5. "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail," Lionsgate, $5,108,532, 2,203 locations, $2,319 average, $83,187,594, four weeks.

6. "Slumdog Millionaire," Fox Searchlight, $5,002,777, 2,578 locations, $1,941 average, $132,602,820, 18 weeks.

7. "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," Sony/columbia, $3,119,151, 2,281 locations, $1,367 average, $137,785,983, nine weeks.

8. "He's Just Not That Into You," Warner Bros., $2,939,484, 1,890 locations, $1,555 average, $89,038,259, six weeks.

9. "Coraline," Focus Features, $2,718,231, 1,768 locations, $1,537 average, $69,240,852, six weeks.

10. "Miss March," Fox, $2,409,156, 1,742 locations, $1,383 average, $2,409,156, one week.


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