Film Weekend Per Total
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $21,500,000 (-32.5%) $6,838 $64,800,000
2 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans $20,700,000 $7,036 $20,700,000
3 Gran Torino $16,000,000 (-27.2%) $5,255 $97,576,000
4 Hotel for Dogs $12,360,000 (-27.3%) $3,779 $36,955,000
5 Slumdog Millionaire $10,550,000 (+80.4%) $7,477 $55,916,000
6 My Bloody Valentine 3-D $10,050,000 (-52.7%) $3,966 $37,725,000
7 Inkheart $7,725,000 $2,910 $7,725,000
8 Bride Wars $7,000,000 (-39.9%) $2,671 $48,702,000
9 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $6,000,000 (+7.6%) $2,651 $111,044,000
10 Notorious $5,700,000 (-72.2%) $3,473 $31,795,000

This just in: The question “How many MC’s (microphone controllers) must get dissed before somebody says ‘don’t fuck with Chris'” has finally been answered. Four. It takes four dissed MC’s.

In the year of the Mall Cop, it appears that Paul Blart is the Armageddon to Observe and Report’s Deep Impact. The Dante’s Peak to its Volcano, the Mission to Mars to its Red Planet. Holy shit that’s a lot of money, and Paul Blart has to be on its way to One Hundred Meelion dollars. Also on its way: A truckload of very attractive whores to Norm McDonald’s house. Courtesy of Kevin James. Hopefully. I’m guessing that Sony’s gonna want to be in the Kevin James business as long as they can. The question for those who’ve seen it: where does the sequel go? Or is KJ (as I like to call him when I’m giving him backrubs in my mind) the sequel as it were. I didn’t think that James would become a force of cinema, but this sort of appeal guarantees at least two other films. If one of those does this business, this guy is going to be working for a while. People will be pitching it with “a Kevin James type.” I lived next door to someone who was in this film. I hope it’s good for their career.

Supposedly Underworld 3 cost around $35, which makes this opening suggest that though it won’t get to much more than $50 Million, that it was a solid investment with international and ancillaries. This strikes as an “end of the road” sequel, though if there was some sort of TV show or animated spin-off, there’s probably money to be made there. I like to think that the number is based on hardcore Bill Nighy fans. Or hardcore – yet easily confused – Science Guy fans.

Question: Do you think Clint Eastwood literally laughs himself to the bank? Eastwood’s old school, and Warners has weathered some terrible grossers from him, but Eastwood is too big a star not to get some kind of backend. And so Gran Torino looks to be a huge earner for WB, and strengthens their already strong looking first quarter. Hopefully Watchmen does this sort of business. The $130-$140 this ends up at has to be somewhat conciliatory considering that it was once something of an Oscar hopeful. I guess the flesh was not pressed, or it was just a little too stupid for Hollywood. Or something. I really wish it marked the return to Old Guy Killing Spree films that were made in some abundance in the 80’s.

Warner Brothers just canned a bunch of people, though, and maybe they can suggest that they’re hurting because of Inkheart, which did not capitalize on the Brendan Fraser grosses of last summer. Then again, they were both terrible movies. TERRIBLE so perhaps Inkheart got the backlash of that. It was a leftover New Line film, which I saw them shooting two years ago. Because there were two Fraser films last summer, and one was a New Line film, they probably held off on releasing this because of it, but with all the strong grosses this month, it’s good to see an honest-to-goodness January piece of shit.

Hotel for Dogs was likely on the cheap side of things, so that’s not the worst number and it effectively weathered Inkheart, so there’s that. Coraline should be the end of it, though, so it’s got two weeks to hang out as the kid’s film. Oscar films picked up, so Slumdog Millionaire cracked the top five, and Benjamin Button came back into the top ten. Button will be hanging out in the bigger multiplexes as much as it can in the hopes of scraping out some more money, and that it wins a big award. The only one it’s got a chance at is director, and that’s where they should really target their hopes, so it can have seven awards and one that isn’t technical. But Slumdog just expanded, and may hit a couple more theaters, and should play stronger for the next month. It’s a crowd pleaser, a Rocky-type, so it could conceivably not drop too bad, and then get the Best Picture bump. The biggest thing working against Button is the need to get Slumdog more than one win. Seriously BP is a lock at this point, so adapted screenplay is probably leaning this way, and Boyle might get director (though Gus Van Sant is also a contender). It’s strange to think that Van Sant, Boyle and David Fincher are the leading nominees considering where they were ten to fifteen years ago. Which makes their possible wins all the more palatable.

My Bloody Valentine looks to be a win, and we may yet see a sequel, but man Biggie shit the bed this week. That’s a story to tell. Since the most expensive thing in that movie had to be the music rights, I wonder if Diddy took more backend to keep the production costs down, or if he bet on lining his pockets twice. The IMDb says there’s original music in the film by Danny Elfman. Crazytown.

Also, Revolutionary Road expanded, and came in twelfth behind Defiance. Ha ha.