Peter Oberth's picture
By Peter Oberth

Witch beats down Watchmen and wins the race to the top

2009 is human after all.  The first big "blockbuster" of the year, ironically seems to be the movie that turned 2009 back into a normal year.  Watchmen, after a lower than expected opening last week, plummeted over 67% to fall to number 2, making way for Race to Witch Mountain to takeover number 1.  Actually, aside from Watchmen, all the other holdovers in the top 10 seemed to fair pretty well.

This is Dwayne Johnson's best opening of his career.  Of course, this is the first movie "Dwayne Johnson" has ever been in.  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson helped open Get Smart at $38 million in 2008 and simply "The Rock" helped open The Mummy Returns at $68 million in 2001 and headlined The Scorpion King at $36 million in 2002.  Regardless of his moniker,this was his best headling effort in nearly 7 years.

Following the surprising opening of My Bloody Valentine 3D ($21 million) in January and the massive opening of Friday the 13th last month ($40 million), this one seems like a failure.  But, the fact is, this is just returning horror (especially remakes) back to what they were pre-2009.  $14 is a pretty strong opening for what is ultimately a pretty low budget movie.

TAKEN (9.3% Drop after 7 weeks)
Ok, this one isn't new but this is certainly worth a mention as no one else really seems to be.  This is the ultimate juggernaut of the year (sorry Jason).  Tallying just short of $200 million worldwide, the big story is the domestic take, or rather the fact that it just won't go away.  Without the help of any Award buzz or lingering marketing campaigns, the huge success of this one can only be based off of word of mouth.  Taken hasn't fallen out of the top 5 after 7 weeks in theaters, dropping less than 10% this weekend while simultaneously dropping 158 theaters.  It is now the highest grossing movie that Luc Besson has written (Transporter, The Fifth Element, etc) and the highest grossing headliner for Liam Neeson.  It is the number 2 kidnapping movie of all time and should easily pass Ransom ($136 million) for number one.

MISS MARCH ($2,350,000)
Fox Searchlight hits hard every year (Napoleon Dynamite, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire), but I think it's safe to say that Miss March is NOT going to be their 2009 hit.  The low budget comedy from a few of the people that created The Whitest Kids in the Room barely managed to open inside the top 10, generating just $350,000 more than the 5 week old flop, Confessions of a Shopaholic.  Unless word of mouth gets strong (doubtful based on the middling reviews), this one seems to be dead in the water.

The full weekend box office ticked in as follows:


TW LW Title (click to read review) Weekend Gross Total Gross
1 N Race to Witch Mountain $25,000,000 $25,000,000
2 1 Watchmen $18,070,000 $86,005,000
3 N The Last House On The Left $14,658,000 $14,658,000
4 3 Taken $6,650,000 $126,833,000
5 2 Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail $5,130,000 $83,209,000
6 4 Slumdog Millionaire $5,025,000 $132,625,000
7 5 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $3,100,000 $137,767,000
8 6 He's Just Not That Into You $2,905,000 $89,004,000
9 7 Coraline $2,655,000 $69,144,000
10 N Miss March $2,350,000 $2,350,000


 Source: Box Office Mojo