Weekend Box Office: Puss In Boots Is Purrfect With $34 Million Weekend

Hopefully this doesn’t start a trend where supporting characters of successful movies get their own movies. I say this half serious and half in jest. One, because I know that Judd Apatow’s next comedy (This Is Forty) is a spin-off from Knocked Up, with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in the starring roles. But then you think of the bad spin-offs that have occurred because of the success of a film or franchise. Seven years after they thought people had forgotten about Batman & Robin what does Warner Bros. do – they give us Catwoman with Halle Berry. Puss In Boots was so appalled, he stuck his head in the litter box and would only come up for air after his boots were shined. Others not worth your time include Elektra, The Scorpion King and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Are you sensing a pattern with the comic-book spin-offs?

Now Puss In Boots is interesting, because unlike those movies mentioned above the spin-off was well received by critics and viewers alike with a 81% aggregate rating on RT, plus our own positive stance. A family film opening days prior to Halloween is always tough to attract viewers, because kids are still scrambling to decide what they want to wear on Halloween when they go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. Factor in the early winter storms in the Northeast and lower numbers would have been expected. Still, even with Halloween and the East Coast becoming an early Winter Wonderland, Puss In Boots had a $34 million opening. The figure was just enough to make it the biggest Halloween weekend opening, dethroning Saw III‘s $33.6 million record from 2006.

To put the opening of Puss In Boots in perspective, last year’s Shrek Forever After opened at $70 million. It was the swansong for the franchise (we think), and opened during the summer. But word of mouth should be good for the cat with the adorable eyes, and shouldn’t have sizable drops in the coming weeks until Happy Feet Two comes out on November 18th.

Horror movies always have an inflated first week before dropping into obscurity like a mobster wearing concrete shoes. Paranormal Activity 3 nosedived by 65% in ticket sales from its record-setting first weekend, but still managed an impressive $19 million for its second weekend. A fourth was all but assured after last weekend, and even if this is the weakest earner in the series so far, we can expect at least five more of these if the costs remain low.

Last year, Justin Timberlake was money playing Napster founder Sean Parker in The Social Network, but that was a supporting role. With In Time he was the leading man. If the numbers for the sci-fi flick are any indication, he’s not ready for prime-time yet. A weak RT rating of 37% didn’t help, neither did its B- CinemaScore. Andrew Niccol’s film had many attractive faces – Amanda Seyfried played Timberlake’s female opposite – but no real headliners. Timberlake and Seyfried’s success will come…in time.

After three weeks it appears that audiences have found all the shoes they kicked off when Footloose opened and went elsewhere. It’s yet to crack $40 million. It will finish north of $50 million which is an okay final domestic total, though I’m curious to see how it will play in China. Perhaps it needed new music from Kenny Loggins, because if a new Top Gun shies away from Loggins tunes or a Harold Faltermeyer score people are going to leave their +1 (aka “wingman”) and riot!

So if there’s anyone who wants to convince me that Johnny Depp is a movie star, let’s have it. FilmDistrict’s release of The Rum Diary, Johnny Depp’s passion project to the life and times of Hunter S. Thompson opened on 2,200 screens and only made $5 million. Basically it means that unless it’s Depp in Pirates garb or working with Tim Burton people aren’t buying a ticket. Now that may change with his extended cameo in Jonah Hill’s take on 21 Jump Street, because you know that Channing Tatum isn’t the draw for that flick. The $5 million opening is disappointing for small production outfit FilmDistrict, who has failed to make a strong hit since Insidious. Shame, too. I really like their company titles before the movie starts. Reminds me of the old HBO channel movie introductions for some reason.

Though no one may be going as the mechanical stars of Real Steel, it appears that not many have made it a point to see it in theaters either. With a $74 million domestic gross after four weeks, I fully expect this one to sell like crazy on home video. Unlike Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which I found to be overbloated like the rest of the Pirates save the original adventure, I sort of dug Paul W.S. Anderson’s take on Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. American audiences may have rejected it, but Europeans love swashbuckling tales. Why can’t this swashbuckling renaissance take off here other than Pirates of the Caribbean?

Oscar hopefuls The Ides of March and Moneyball continue to show serious legs at the box office. George Clooney’s political thriller has been around in theaters as long as Real Steel but its $33 million earnings versus a $12.5 million budget makes it a bigger winner, and should get released back into theaters pending if Clooney picks up some nominations. Moneyball has been in the top 10 for more than a month but has only made $17 million more than its estimated production budget. Brad Pitt is on the shortlist to get a nomination for Best Actor and the film should easily be up for Adapted Screenplay.

And if you are wondering about Sony’s Anonymous from 2012 director Ronald Emmerich, well, you won’t find it in the top 10. The studio took a machete to a printout list of all the theaters it was slated to drop and cut the list to 265 screens. The Shakespeare drama made $1 million was decent for the number of screens, but considering the cost of the set design alone, it looks like this is the pre-Thanksgiving turkey.

1. Puss In Boots — $34 million
2. Paranormal Activity 3 — $19 million ($81.3 million)
3. In Time — $12 million
4. Footloose — $5.4 million ($38.4 million)
5. The Rum Diary — $5 million
6. Real Steel — $4.7 million ($73.8 million)
7. The Three Musketeers — $3.5 million ($14.8 million)
8. The Ides Of March — $2.7 million ($33.5 million)
9. Moneyball — $2.4M ($67 million)
10. Courageous — $1.8M ($27.6 million)

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