For many, the creative relevance of 3-D cinema remains an open question. But this weekend reinforces the format’s commercial power at the box office. Despite a moviegoing weekend dominated by R-rated violent thriller-type films ostensibly shooting for the same audience, The Final Destination scared up $28.3 million for an easy No. 1 berth, according to early estimates from Hollywood.com Box Office. That’s almost $10 million better than the opening frame for the last film in the creatively-dispatching-model-perfect-unknown-actors franchise (which, for those keeping track, was Final Destination 3). There’s really only one reason why: Although just over half its 3,121 theaters were screening the flick in 3-D, fully 70 percent of its box office take came from 3-D theaters. And theaters typically charge an extra few bucks per ticket for the privilege of watching the film with those comfy stereoscopic glasses. Rest assured, despite its title (and its abysmal “C” CinemaScore grade), this is by no means the final Final Destination movie.
The folks at the The Weinstein Company, meanwhile, had mixed news for their much scrutinized bottom line: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds landed at No. 2 with a rather spectacular $20 million, just 47 percent down from its opening weekend; the film’s cumulative total is $73.7 million. TWC’s sister company Dimension Films, however, saw its Halloween II open to a disappointing third with $17.4 million. Director Rob Zombie’s second re-imagining of the 31-year-old slasher franchise made nothing close to the $30.6 million debut of Zombie’s first night out with Michael Myers over Labor Day 2007. But given the steep competition and the film’s $15 million budget, it will most likely yield a modest profit. (TWC also announced plans for another Halloween sequel, this time without Zombie but in 3-D.)
The box office love continued through much of the weekend’s top 10: District 9 dropped just 41 percent with $10.7 million, strong enough to hold on to fourth place and, with a $90.8 mil running total, well on its way to joining the $100 million club. At No. 5, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra banged out $8 million, a 34 percent drop and $132 million total. And Julie & Julia savored a tiny 16 percent drop for sixth, with $7.4 million in its fourth weekend for $70.9 million total.
In fact, the only true disappointment for the weekend was Focus Features’ Taking Woodstock. Director Ang Lee’s trip back to the iconic three-day concert debuted at ninth with just $3.7 million, doubly disappointing since it opened wide in 1,393 theaters (after a Wednesday opening in New York and Los Angeles) and netted a feeble $2,691 per theater average. By contrast, two limited-release debuts did rather well: Vogue magazine documentary The September Issue bowed on six screens with a fashionable $40,000 per theater average; and the extreme-sports-fandom-gone-wrong dramedy Big Fan won $13,000 per theater on two screens.