The Film
Weekend Bizness
Per Screen
Grand Total
Cloverfield $41,000,000 $12,019 $41,000,000
$22,427,000 $7,336 
Bucket List
$15,150,000 (-21.9%) $5,197 $42,709,000
Juno $10,250,000 (-24.7%) $4,044 $85,377,000
National Treasure 2: Electra Glide in Blue
8,148,000 (-27.9%) $2,749 $198,030,000
First Sunday
$7,800,000 (-56.0%) $3,524 $28,466,000
Mad Money
$3,117 $7,700,000
Alvin and the Chipmunks
$7,000,000 (-24.8%) $2,363 $196,380,000
I am Legend
$5,105,000 (-37.6%) $2,021 $247,682,000
Atonement $4,759,000 (+12.7%) $3,686 $31,884,000

This just in: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Cloverfield broke the January opening weekend record, and smashed its way into the history books and our hearts. That’s a great number for any time of the year, but now that I’ve said that, here’s the snark: having the best opening weekend in January is like being the sexiest person in fat camp? Like being first in class in homeschool? I’m just saying – in this new world of heavy openings – hitting a forty ain’t shit and this record may be shattered next year. Or not; to be fair Cloverfield was able to successfully use its off-season opening to its advantage, and others may not be as clever. But, in regards to this weekend, Cloverfield looks to be a “Friday” picture. This term might be self-explanatory, but when a film does its best business on a Friday, it designates it as something different than one that’s best business is on Saturday, in that a Friday picture has a sharper box office decline than a Saturday picture (generally, 50%-70% off the next weekend vs. 20%-40%). Horror films and teen movies tend to do their best business on their first day, and that looks to be what this is. This shouldn’t be a surprise as much of the appeal was finding out what Cloverfield was, and for many if they didn’t see it right away they aren’t going to bother at all. This also means that the final number for the three day could be closer to $40 or possibly under. And though it would be very hard for this film to miss hitting $100 million, it’s not impossible. It could be an opening weekend picture, or quite possibly just a Friday movie.

Word of mouth for Cloverfield can be described as mixed, and a number of reports have audience members yelling “that’s it?” at the end of the screening, or something of similar disappointment/befuddlement. Clearly, some people weren’t sure what they were getting, which is a plus in short run and a minus for the long run. Bait and switch tends to send out toxic word of mouth, even if the audience who doesn’t “get it” may not be the brightest bulbs in the hardware store. But Cloverfield cost less than $30 Million to make, so it’ll be profitable, likely by the end of the BO week. Here’s, though, where it gets interesting: how much money was spent on advertising? We all know it was a “cheap” movie, but if you drop forty mil on ads, and that $40 isn’t considered part of the production pie… Those are numbers not reported. It’s all a lie, a facsimile, because the numbers don’t matter. Here as always it’s perception that matters and everyone involved gets to see this as a win – though it likely doesn’t help any of the actors (though it won’t kill their careers like the Blair Witch kids). For Abrams, it’s a stop-gap win. This got off the ground, but the heavy lifting comes with Star Trek in December. Then’s when all bets go off. If the article on AICN about the man with cancer being unable to show photos of himself in costume is true, then the privacy around Cloverfield will be maintained around Star Trek. This is not promising, and not promising for a number of reasons, the primary one being that we know what this is. But that’s eleven months away when we’ll have elected a new president, and I’ll be God damned if the strike is still going on. In that time, things will change.

27 Dresses didn’t feel the Cloverfield heat that I thought, and if her people work on it – and can get her to stop smoking publicly and not say stupid shit about Judd Apatow – Katherine “cig” Heigl has a good chance at becoming a movie star. That $22 million means this modestly budgeted title will definitely be a win in the Fox books, and could play long like P.S. I Love You, which just dropped out of the top ten and crossed the $50 Million mark. That’s a 40 degree day if I ever saw one. But 27 Dresses will do more, and that’s something. Something I like to call “WIN!” (High five!)*

Speaking of something, The Bucket List is playing really, really well. I hope to never see the film, but it looks like the target demo is turning out in force for this one, and it would not surprise me if this one walkers its way to a hundred million dollar gross. Just like Juno, which has that in the bag now, and should get there by the end of January-ish if it gets an Academy bump. The announcements are Tuesday, which is why Michael Clayton and No Country are going to be hitting a lot of screens. At this point, there shouldn’t be any Dreamgirls-level shockers, so those re-releases are a safe bet. Though we may start seeing There Will Be Blood (currently on 400 screens and just out of the top ten) bringing its milkshake to more yards come February.

National Treasure bucked both First Sunday and Mad Money for the five spot. The former will get to $200 Million by week’s end (possibly tomorrow), the other two will be lucky to turn a profit. It’s still possible that Ice Cube and Tracey Morgan’s Sunday could get to fifty, but also maybe not so much. That’s a hit-it-and-quit-it gross. Mad Money is Mad done. E. It could be out of the top ten next weekend.

Alvin and Legend are wrapping it up, and with six pictures going wide next week, should start bleeding screens. But no one’s complaining about either’s gross, and they’ve had good runs.

Atonement’s been clinging to the ten spot, and has done solid American business for what it is. What it isn’t will be determined Tuesday, though you can still get a good push saying “NOMINEE: BEST ACTRESS, BEST SUPORTING ACTRESS, NOMINATED FOR FIVE ACADEMY AWARDS,” can’t you?

Rambo shows up next week to murderize you. I wish it were in 3-D. That would be the greatest thing ever.

*When I type or say “High five!” it’s in the voice of the red headed kid from Wonder Showzen, not Borat.  Just FYI.