Proving that labyrinthine viral marketing campaigns can actually deliver an audience (sorry, Snakes on a Plane), and not all major studios are hopelessly clueless when it comes to turning out the fickle youth dollar on a non-summertime P&A budget, the monstrous, handheld-shot disaster flick Cloverfield raked in $41 million this past weekend, a new box office high-water mark for January releases.
Katherine Heigl’s 27 Dresses, meanwhile, won the battle for female and run-off audiences, placing second for the weekend with a $22.4 million debut; Callie Khouri’s femme-centric heist flick Mad Money, starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes, placed seventh for the same frame, pulling in $7.7 million. Sold on the strength of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman’s pairing, The Bucket List placed third for the weekend in its second week of wide release, adding $15.2 million to what is now a $41.5 million total. Little-indie-that-could Juno added another $10.3 million to its coffers; it now totals an amazing $85 million in theatrical receipts, proving once again that Fox Searchlight (The Full Monty, Napoleon Dynamite, Sideways) is currently, far and away, the best in the business at connecting films with eager niche and arthouse audiences.
Nicolas Cage’s sequel to National Treasure placed fifth with $8.1 million, while Ice Cube and Tracey Morgan’s First Sunday added $7.8 million.
Rounding out the top 10 were Alvin and the Chipmunks (now a $280 million earner worldwide… sigh) with $7 million, Will Smith’s I Am Legend (a $470 million worldwide smash hit) with $5.1 million, and Joe Wright’s Atonement with $4.8 million. The cancellation of the made-for-TV Golden Globes event likely had a wet-blanket commercial effect on particulary that latter film and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, tough-sell awards contenders which each added a significant number of theaters this past week.