Joshua Rich's weekend wrap up: ''Gridiron Gang'' charges to the No. 1 spot, beating out the starlets of ''The Black Dahlia'' and Zach Braff's new flick

By Joshua Rich
Updated September 15, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Gridiron Gang: John Bramley

It was a good few days for The Rock, whose football drama Gridiron Gang won the weekend with $15 million, according to Sunday?s estimates. Thanks in no small part to a solid-A CinemaScore rating, the movie gave distributor Sony its record 10th No. 1 movie of 2006.

But it was an even better weekend for the University of Michigan community, which first saw its beloved Wolverines annihilate Notre Dame on the gridiron on Saturday, and then got a special bonus when it awoke on Sunday to find that its favorite movie-savant son — ahem, you?re looking at him — had scored a touchdown with his box-office forecast. That?s right, sports fans, last Friday I looked into my crystal football and saw Gridiron Gang earning $15.5 mil in its debut and finishing in first place. And wouldja look what happened.

What?s more, I was darn close on the other big premieres. I envisioned The Black Dahlia (No. 2) earning $6 mil, and it made $10.4 mil — though, man, that D+ CinemaScore stings worse than a Prescott Burgess interception return for a touchdown on the second play of the game (yeah, dat?s right, suckas, DON?T IT?!) and portends a Fighting Irish-esque plummet in the weeks to come. I predicted that the animated kiddie flick Everyone?s Hero (No. 3) would take in $8 mil, and it earned $6.2 mil. And I totally called it right on The Last Kiss, which I said would finish in fourth place with $5 mil; it came in at No. 4 with $4.7 mil. So, you know, BOO-YAH! Can?t earn genius prognostication skills like these at Ohio State, that?s for sure. If there were an AP Poll for box-office prediction, I?d be the consensus No. 1. On to Pasadena, baby!

Okay, then. Last week?s winner, The Covenant, rounded out the top five with $4.7 mil on a decline of 47 percent. And a handful of smaller fare hit theaters with diverse results. ThinkFilm?s imported U.K. comedy Keeping Mum (starring the veddy British cast of Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith ? and Patrick Swayze?!) did best, scoring a $15,600 average on two screens, and Lionsgate?s documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon averaged a good-but-not-great $12,000 in six venues. But Haven, Confetti, and Artie Lange?s Beer League (EW.com can tell you what they?re all about, not that you plan on seeing them) all choked with averages under $2,000.

Overall, reports the movie-star-handsome Paul at Exhibitor Relations, the box office was down nearly 12 percent from the same weekend a year ago. But no matter: Look who?s the happy boy today, after yesterday?s big win! Now all I need to make it a perfect weekend is for the Redskins to beat the Cowboys tonight. You listening to me Coach Gibbs, you Hall-of-Famer you? How about it?

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