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Box Office Report: Shia shows up the competition

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Suzanne Tenner

On a fiercely competitive weekend that featured six major new releases and the largest number of R-rated wide openers in nearly a decade, it was the PG-13 thriller Disturbia that won in remarkably easy fashion.

The Shia LaBeouf vehicle took No. 1 with $23 million, the best first-weekend number of his career as a lead actor (Holes earned $16.3 mil in 2003). Moreover, Disturbia‘s CinemaScore results show that the 20-year-old has a bright future: Audiences gave the film a solid A- grade, and they were largely comprised of the most demographically pleasing folks around, young women. This certainly bodes well for LaBeouf’s July release, Transformers (which Paramount no doubt would like to convince ladies under age 25 to see), and it also shows why, from a business point of view, Steven Spielberg’s decision to cast the actor in the next Indiana Jones movie (another Paramount film, which you’ve gotta believe skews pretty old at this point) makes a ton of sense.

Speaking of Paramount, the studio also took No. 2, as Blades of Glory continued its medal-winning skate through multiplexes, adding $14.1 mil to bring its three-week total to $90.2 mil. That makes this just the second weekend since 2005 on which one studio has held the top two spots at the box office. (Props, too, go to DreamWorks, which actually produced Disturbia and Blades for its new parent company to distribute.) Sure enough, it was another good weekend for the holdovers: Meet the Robinsons (No. 3), dropped a mere 28 percent to earn $12.1 mil and boost its cumulative sum to $72 mil. In doing so, Disney’s animated flick edged out my pick for the weekend’s winner, Perfect Stranger, which grossed a slight $11.5 mil at No. 4.

That’s an awfully disappointing result for a film that may not have earned critical kudos (it scored just 32 out of 100 on Metacritic.com and got a weak C+ CinemaScore to boot) but looked to have a chance with two big stars front and center. So now I fear we have to consider that Halle Berry isn’t as big a draw as many of her fans, myself included, wish she were (really, her only big openings have been for franchise films like Die Another Day and the X-Men flicks), and we also have to consider the sad fact that Bruce Willis’ time has passed (he has fronted just one hit, Sin City, since The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable struck gold around the turn of the millennium). I don’t want to gang up on Willis too much, but I should note that this is the second weekend in a row when a movie featuring the star (who also cameos in Grindhouse) tanked at the box office. To quote the dearly departed Kurt Vonnegut (author of the book upon which Bruce Willis’ 1999 flick Breakfast of Champions is based): ”So it goes.”

On the brighter side, Ice Cube’s family farce Are We Done Yet? stayed strong, dropping just 35 percent to earn $9.2 mil. Thus, it outpaced a slew of underperforming newcomers: Pathfinder (No. 6 with $4.8 mil), Redline (No. 11 with $4 mil), Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (No. 13 with $3.1 mil), and Slow Burn (which brought in just $800,000 way down the chart). Meanwhile, Mike White’s Year of the Dog (from — hey! — Paramount Vantage) was the big indie opener, averaging a nice $16,000 in seven sites, and 300 became the first release of 2007 to pass the $200 mil mark in domestic theaters (it has conquered roughly $200.8 mil in six weeks).

No wonder the overall box office was up 6.4 percent from the post-Easter weekend a year ago! Yep, here at the Box Office Report, the good news (well, unless your name is Berry or Willis or, you know, Pathfinder) never ends.

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