The weekend's sole big-budget multiplex offering -- the sappy alien-invasion remake The Day the Earth Stood Still -- opened well with $31 million. But the bigger news lies under the top 10. This was the weekend that Doubt and Gran Torino began their elaborate platform releases, which Miramax and Warner Bros. (respectively) hope will result in multiple Oscar nominations. Doubt opened on 15 screens and grossed $525,000 for a $35,000 per-screen average. Gran Torino -- a goofy, entertaining little movie that's only an awards contender because of Clint Eastwood's involvement -- opened to $284,000 on 6 screens for $47,333 per screen.
Another piece of Oscar bait, The Reader, opened with marginally less fanfare, ending up with $170,000 on 8 screens ($21,250 per screen).
These sets of numbers are promising, but the real test for these movies is what happens once they expand beyond their ultra-limited initial releases. Slumdog Millionare, for example, is handling its slow expansion very well, with $13,000 per-screen on 170 screens, after five weeks.
There's not much to say about the other wide new releases. Nothing Like the Holidays, Overture's niche-y Christmas offering, was predictably lackluster, opening to $3.5 million. The computer-animated Delgo was another flop for Freestyle Releasing (which, as a commenter helpfully pointed out last week, is a for-hire distributor that has nothing to do with the production of its films) with less than $1 million on over 2000 screens.
The only other thing I want to point out this week is that Quantum of Solace may have trouble setting the all-time Bond franchise record I had expected it to set handily. It has not held up well after a strong opening, and is now $10 million shy of Casino Royale's $167 million. Its weekend gross was $3.8 million, so it's going to be close.
The full top 10 -- and then some -- is under the jump.
1- The Day the Earth Stood Still (Fox) - $31.00 ($8,708) - $31.00
2 - Four Christmases (Sony) - $12.27 ($3,749) - $87.9
3 - Twilight (Summit) - $8.01 ($2,196) - $150.11
4 - Bolt (Disney) - $7.51 ($2,396) - $88.89
5 - Australia (Fox) - $4.29 ($1,585) - $37.88
6 - Quantum of Solace (Sony) - $3.80 ($1,441) - $157.67
7 - Nothing Like the Holidays (Overture) - $3.50 ($2,095) - $3.50
8 - Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $3.25 ($1,174) - $170.01
9 - Milk (Focus) - $2.64 ($8.037) - $7.36
10 - Transporter 3 (Lionsgate) - $2.25 ($885) - $29.28
11 - Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) - $2.20 ($13,018) - $8.07
16 - Delgo (Freestyle) - $.92 ($424) - $.92
19 - Doubt (Miramax) - $.53 ($35,000) - $.53
20 - Gran Torino (WB) - $.29 ($47,333) - $.29
Numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo.