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Weekend Box Office: ‘Puss In Boots’ Purrs To No. 1 As Wintery Weekend Affects Bottom Line Totals

Weekend Box Office: 'Puss In Boots' Purrs To No. 1 As Wintery Weekend Affects Bottom Line Totals

Opening up on 3,952 screens DreamWorks Animation’s 3D “Puss In Boots,” a spin-off of the popular and lucrative “Shrek” series, was always going to do well. Even critics were on board this time (an 81% RT score), including our own positive Playlist review. However, competing with Halloween and Halloween parties is tough. Add on top of that an unexpected winter squall hitting the East Coast this weekend and numbers were much lower than any “Shrek” picture so far. But everything’s relative, even the seemingly low “Puss In Boots” $34 million opening set a Halloween weekend record, besting the $33.6 million record that “Saw III” set in 2006.

It’s hard not to compare the picture to past “Shrek” films. Even a waning 4th “Shrek” film “Shrek Forever After” grossed a rather astounding $70 million in its opening weekend in 2010, going on to rake in $752 million worldwide. Conversely “Puss In Boots,” couldn’t scrape up half those numbers, opening to $32.2 million this early-winter weekend. But let’s not forget every “Shrek” film thus far opened in May during the beginning of tentpole season. “Puss In Boots” had a decidedly different opening

Dreamworks Animation CEO and 3D evangelist Jeffrey Katzenberg will likely be satisfied, even if only 51% of its ‘Puss’ profits came from those that saw it in 3D. These films tend to have long legs and this spin-off hasn’t even opened up overseas where the franchise tends to do especially well. Without the inflated costs of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy‘s salaries, “Puss In Boots” likely cost half the price of a “Shrek” film. While the company likely hoped for an opening-weekend numbers north of $40 million, this is a promising start, especially if the East Coast weather stays more like fall for the next few weeks — it’s got no family movie competition until “Happy Feet Two” in three weeks.

Second-week drop-off attendance in horror movies is always high and while “Paranormal Activity 3” did demonstrate a 64% decline in ticket sales from last weekend, it still managed to nab the number two slot with an impressive second-week showing of $19 million dollars suggesting “Paranormal Activity 10: Your Pets Are Possessed” can’t be too far behind. Paramount adores these films. They’re made for a song (always under $3 million or less) and they haul in the audiences and numbers. With an $81.5 total so far, ‘PN3’ should be crossing $100 million in no time, facilitating a green light for a 4th edition ready for Halloween 2012 in no time. We don’t see the appeal at all, but frankly mainstream audience taste has always been a head-scratcher.

Justin Timberlake might be a great supporting actor in roles like Sean Parker in “The Social Network,” but if the weak numbers of “In Time” are any indication – a low $12 million opening despite showing on 3000-plus screens – audiences just don’t see him as leading man yet. Poor reviews certainly didn’t help the film either. Rotten Tomatoes scored the sci-fi film roughly in the 37% area and audiences gave the film a B- CinemaScore. Despite smash hits like “Mamma MiaAmanda Seyfried isn’t a huge name either (see the weak numbers for “Red Riding Hood”). Still, it could have been worse. Some were estimating an opening that was under $10 million. Timberlake and Seyfried will have to put in a few more supporting turns before they’re totally ready for primetime and director Andrew Niccol, well, unfortunately for him, his auteur status has been rescinded until further notice.

In its third week of release, “Footloose,” which opened rather soft on a slow weekend in October despite decent reviews, continues to post rather lackluster numbers. After three weeks, it’s barely passed the $40 million mark domestically, and in its first week of release it was on more than 3,500 screens. Still at the number four slot, it will likely crawl past the $50 million mark in the U.S., but it’s a far cry from the smash hit that was the ‘80s original.

Meanwhile, the newly formed distribution company FilmDistrict is hurting. The thinking man’s mid-sized distrib (think Focus Features or Relativity), the company disappointed with “Drive” early this fall in spite of rave reviews (audiences apparently expected “Fast Five”), and even Johnny Depp couldn’t help “The Rum Diary” muster more than a measly $5 million. On 2,200 screens, one could argue audiences have spoken loudly: Johnny, if you’re not going to star in a stupid Tim Burton film or a loud and plotless ‘Pirates’ film, we’re simply not coming out to see you anymore. Bad news for audiences who have been yearning for Depp to drop the kid-friendly tentpoles and get back into the arthouse. Aside from “Insidious” which started the year very well for Film District (it grossed $92 million worldwide off a $1.5 million budget), the company is without a major hit and if this continues its very conceivable they’ll go the way of Apparition – the similar, mid-sized very short-lived distributor that folded after failing to put up numbers with films like “Bright Star” and “The Runaways” (though to be fair, Apparition only ever squeezed out six films and Film District already has almost a dozen films to their name, either in theater or on the way). Still, it’s a very big sign that folks like Johnny Depp are only as important as their franchise.

In its fourth week in theaters, “Real Steel,” continues to plug away, though it’s definitely performed softer than expected despite positive reviews and Cinemascores. Having grossed $74 million domestically, surely DreamWorks would have hoped it would have crossed the $100 million mark by now. Still, director Shawn Levy and Hugh Jackman’s careers are not going to be even slightly dented by this one ($154 million worldwide keeps everyone happy).

Summit’s “Three Musketeers 3D” is officially a bust. Well, at least domestically where audiences have outright rejected the film. The film fell off 59% in its second week and numbers so far a very weak $14.8 million stateside. But internationally, there’s a completely different story as the film has grossed $64 million worldwide so far and the $100 million mark as a total can’t be far off. Note to studios, international audiences love their swashbuckling pictures.

Showing tremendous legs, in their fourth and six week in release respectively, “The Ides Of March” and “Moneyball” continue to hover around the bottom half of the top 10. Neither have posted gigantic numbers – and the overly-expensive “Moneyball” will need another $50 million in the bag, otherwise it will post a loss – but audiences are hanging on strong to both which bodes well for their Oscar presence come nomination time. In its fifth week in release, Sony’s “Courageous” continues to do well considering its low budget and lack of stars. Not a soul can even tell you what this movie’s about, but made for $2 million and having grossed $25 million so far, this Christian-friendly is already a success.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for Sony’s Shakespearean tale “Anonymous,” forget it. The company got wind that the picture was tracking poorly and cut their losses early, taking it out of wide release at the last minute (the week of) and only debuting the picture on 265 screens. Still its $3,774 per-screen average wasn’t a total disaster, even if Roland Emmerich-friendly geeks clearly didn’t bother with it either. Perhaps they were under the impression that the film was really directed… BY THE EARL OF OXFORD! In limited release, Paramount’s “Like Crazy” did well on four screens and yielded a $30,000 per-screen average for a $120,000 total which puts it comfortably in the top 10 per-screen average of 2011 so far, boding well for its chances in a wider release.

Meanwhile, it hasn’t opened in the U.S. yet (not til December 23), but as expected international audiences are flipping or Steven Spielberg‘s “Tintin.” Opening in just 19 markets including France, the U.K. and Belgium, the picture grossed $55.8M overseas which is a tremendous beginning for the 3D mo-cap picture.

1. “Puss In Boots” — $34 million
2. “Paranormal Activity 3” — $19 million ($86.4 million worldwide total so far)
3. “In Time” — $12 million
4. “Footloose” — $5.5 million ($38.3 million worldwide total so far)
5. “The Rum Diary” — $5 million
6. “Real Steel” — $4.9 million ($74.1 million worldwide total so far)
7. “Three Musketeers 3D” — $3.5 million ($78.3 million worldwide total so far)
8. “Ides Of March” — $2.7 million ($33.5 million worldwide total so far)
9. “Moneyball” — $2.4M ($67.4 million worldwide total so far)
10. “Courageous” — $1.8M ($27.6 million worldwide total so far)

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