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Box Office Update 1/30-2/1: Taken Surprises All to Take the Top Spot

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Wow. As surprised as I am by how good Taken is and how much I liked it, I had no idea it would be, far and away, the number one movie of the weekend. Its opening was even strong enough to make it the second biggest opening for a Super Bowl weekend, behind the Hannah Montana film that opened last year. I guess I should not be too terribly surprised, the Friday night screening I attended was very nearly a sell out.

While Taken was the big surprise of the weekend with a gross very near $25 million, the success of Paul Blart: Mall Cop has to be seen as an unbelievable success. It held the top spot in its first two weekends and only slipped to second here, suffering very modest drops along the way. No, it will not challenge the insane success of last year's The Dark Knight, but it could very well be the first 2009 film to cross the century mark. What may be even more surprising is that it is a genuinely funny and sweet-hearted comedy that does not rely on gross-out humor. Seriously, go and check it out, you will not be able to keep from laughing.

In addition to Taken, two more new releases reached the top ten this weekend. First, the new horror film The Uninvited, which is actually pretty good! No, it is not great and it will not likely be remembered a few years down the road, but for the moment let's just say I was pleasantly surprised. This is unexpected considering how much I despise the trailers I have seen for it. Funny thing, I was expecting this to be the bad one and The Unborn to be the good one. Oh, how the tables turned.

The other new entry over the weekend was the Renee Zellweger/Harry Connick Jr. romantic comedy New in Town. It opened to horrific notices from critics, which seems to have had an effect on its box office take. I was sure it was going to take the top spot, or at least challenge for it. Of course, I decided to take a pass and did not see it. I guess I did not miss much.

Returning films generally did all right, particularly of note was Slumdog Millionaire's performance, which is riding high on its current wave of awards, which are well deserved I might add. At the other end of the scale is Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, which fell north of 60%.

Next week will see new competition from the excellent looking Coraline, the intriguing Push, the romantic (maybe?) He's Just Not That Into You, and the awful looking Pink Panther 2.

Three movies dropped off the top ten this week: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (11), Bride Wars (12), and Notorious (2009) (17).

This Week Last Week Title Wknd Gross Overall Week in release
1 N Taken (2009) $24,717,037 $24,717,037 1
2 1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $13,872,751 $83,247,655 3
3 N The Uninvited $10,325,824 $10,325,824 1
4 4 Hotel for Dogs $8,632,740 $48,156,061 3
5 3 Gran Torino $8,232,278 $110,178,990 8
6 5 Slumdog Millionaire $7,628,713 $67,193,169 12
7 2 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans $7,581,272 $33,165,746 2
8 N New in Town $6,741,530 $6,741,530 1
9 6 My Bloody Valentine 3D $4,479,662 $44,827,233 3
10 7 Inkheart $3,721,492 $12,813,023 2

Box Office Predictions Recap
Unlike the box office figures, my ability to come anywhere near guessing the reality of the box office has not been increasing. I have been on a slide for a few weeks now. It is interesting to see how well the box office is doing considering the direction of our economy. It shows that even in the face of economic uncertainty entertainment is an absolutely essential part of our survival (or people just like movies). I also have to wonder if and when my insight will take a turn for the better. As much fun as this can be, guessing so wrong so often is a little disheartening. Perhaps next week will be a turning point.

Here is how the field matched up to my guesses:

Actual Prediction Title Wknd Gross Prediction
8 1 New in Town $6,741,530 $16 million
1 2 Taken (2009) $24,717,037 $14 million

2

3 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $13,872,751 $11 million
7 4 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans $7,581,272 $10.5 million
5 5 Gran Torino $8,232,278 $9 million
3 6 The Uninvited $10,325,824 $8 million
6 7 Slumdog Millionaire $7,628,713 $8 million
4 8 Hotel for Dogs $8,632,740 $7 million
9 9 My Bloody Valentine 3D $4,479,662 $5 million
10 10 Inkheart $3,721,492 $4 million
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