After all the anticipation and hubbub, the weekend is coming to an end and the box office results are here: Watchmen (No. 1) grossed $55.7 million during its first frame, according to early estimates from Media by Numbers.
That’s a solid sum, to be sure, although it’s certainly on the low end of most projections. Watchmen premiered in more theaters (3,611) than any other R-rated movie in history, and it averaged an impressive $15,413 per venue, despite a potentially problematic long running time. It also scored the biggest debut of 2009 so far. Nonetheless, the movie’s $55.7 mil take (including $5.5 mil from 124 IMAX screens) is substantially smaller than the $70.9 mil that 300, the last R-rated graphic-novel movie from director Zack Snyder, earned on its opening weekend two years ago. And aside from that theater-count statistic (which almost any film could break at any time, really), there will be no major records to report on this weekend (for example, Watchmen‘s debut was just the fifth-best opening ever for an R-rated movie).
I’d argue, in fact, that this opening is a bit soft, considering the great expectations that came with Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore’s landmark comic book — not to mention Watchmen‘s hefty grosses from screenings at midnight on Friday and throughout its first day. After attracting some major initial interest, banking $25.1 mil on Friday, the film’s audience dropped off dramatically during the weekend: It grossed $19 mil on Saturday and is expected to bring in just $11.5 mil on Sunday. These are all big numbers, don’t get me wrong, but, when combined with the fact that the film got a lukewarm CinemaScore grade of B from an audience that was largely comprised of older men, it all points to a rapid downward trend that may be difficult to reverse in the weeks to come.
Elsewhere — yes, there were other movies playing at the multiplex this weekend! — a number of films continued to do what Watchmen must now aspire to, perhaps in vain: They stayed strong deep into their long runs. Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail (No. 2) grossed $8.8 mil on its third weekend; the film, Perry’s biggest yet at the box office, has banked $76.5 mil to date. Taken (No. 3) also moved along like the unstoppable force it has been for more than a month now, earning $7.5 mil and bringing its six-week sum to $118 mil. Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire (No. 4) was next with $6.9 mil, which boosted its domestic haul to $125.4 mil. And Paul Blart: Mall Cop (No. 5) took its eight-week total to $133.6 mil thanks to another $4.2 mil gross.
Meanwhile, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (No. 9) completely fell off the map, dropping a staggering 78 percent to gross just $2.8 mil. According to Box Office Mojo, that’s the 15th biggest second-weekend decline of all time.
Overall, the cumulative box office was up nearly 8 percent over the same frame a year ago, when 10,000 B.C. opened big, making this the fifth consecutive “up” weekend at the multiplex. So, all in all, I’d say today’s was a good report, indeed.
More Box Office News:
‘Watchmen’ earns $25.1 mil at the box office on Friday
‘Watchmen’ grosses $4.6 mil at midnight shows
Box Office Preview: ‘Watchmen’ will be No. 1, but how much will it make?
‘Madea’ tops ‘Jonas Brothers’ for a second box office win
‘Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail’ wins big at the box office
‘Friday the 13th’ slashes records
EW.com’s Box Office Chart
addCredit(“Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics”)