Film Weekend Per Screen Total
1 Taken $24,625,000 $7,736 $24,625,000
2 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $14,000,000 (-35.3%) $4,367 $83,375,000
3 The Uninvited $10,512,000 $4,485 $10,512,000
4 Hotel for Dogs $8,706,000 (-32.3%) $2,755 $48,229,000
5 Gran Torino $8,600,000 (-47.1%) $2,852 $110,547,000
6 Slumdog Millionaire $7,680,000 (-28.2%) $4,703 $67,244,000
7 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans $7,200,000 (-65.4%) $2,447 $32,784,000
8 New in Town $6,750,000 $3,478 $6,750,000
9 My Bloody Valentine 3-D $4,260,000 (-57.5%) $3,030 $44,608,000
10 Inkheart $3,700,000 (-51.3%) $1,394 $12,792,000

This just in: Weed culture still sucks. For forty years running, people talking about what they do when they’re high and how great it is is quite possibly the least interesting conversation happening at that moment in the world. And birthday wishes to Jacqueline, Big Boi, and Sherman Hemsley, who turns 71 years young today.

Do people want to see Qui-Gon Jinn beat on some fools? I guess they waited ten years to see him really kick ass and take names, but that can build a hunger inside you. A good dumb action movie is likely a nice break from good dumb horror movies, and all that, and so Superbowl weekend is dominated by an older guy hurting hineys. Hrm. Well, with Gran Torino tearing up the box, and a Rambo sequel in the works, maybe there is a comeback for old dudes getting their ass-whoopery on. Lord knows I would celebrate such a thing. Oh, I would celebrate it. In my pants. Just don’t bring back Chuck Norris. He’s gone crazy. Though I would love to see him do a Christian themed ass-kicking movie. Like Fireproof but with numb-chucks.

But Taken was enough to break Paul Blart’s streak at the top. There’s talk of a sequel since the only way this movie doesn’t make it to a hundred is if Kevin James gets found tomorrow at the Four Seasons with a dead girl or a live boy. And maybe then it gets to $200 (audiences are fickle that way). When films like this do this awesome, I feel sort of at a loss. Mostly because I would never see it, and if friends go to see it, they’ve already resigned themselves. Audiences have responded to James, and will likely continue to for another picture or two. I may look at the blu-ray in a couple months or not. It’s fair to say that people aren’t responding to this because it’s great filmmaking, and that tells you everything about the box office you may ever need to know. Only super-nerds celebrate a good dissolve (like that one in The General Dies at Dawn).

The glut of horror movies in January may have left The Uninvited a touch cold. And so a ten million dollar opening means a closer to twenty-five take. The main thing about the film is that it stars the hardest working woman in show-business: Elizabeth Banks. She’s in so many movies lately, I wonder if she’d show up at the opening of a six-pack (as the old joke goes). So far this is her only film scheduled in 2009, but you never know. Horror audiences are likely resting up for the return of Jason Vorhees, who will likely tear the box office up so bad that someone else will have to come to tear it back down.

The DGA, PGA and SAG awards have all but confirmed the mortal lock Slumdog Millionaire has on best picture, and so it should perform steadily for the next month, which means that it may yet get to a hundred. This is where a slow roll out is really beneficial to a picture like this, as interest can grow in smaller markets and provide a steadier stream of revenue. But it appears to be the only nominee to really get some Oscar heat. The paradigm has changed as neither Milk or Frost/Nixon were re-energized by their nominations, and The Reader didn’t get much heat now that it’s expanded (Button was a wide release, so it doesn’t count). Does mainstream America know how over this contest is? If not, then there will be less studios greenlighting talent pictures with the hopes of end of the year gold. At the same time we’re in a recession, and comfort food is the name of the game. 

Speaking of the shitty economy, these numbers we’ve been seeing in January do suggest that in troubled times, mother Mary comes to me and speaking words of wisdom says “go see movies.”  Except not New in Town. Which I heard is already one of the worst films of the year. It and Inkheart. Maybe He’s Just Not That In To You will show the world’s appetite for Rom-Coms at this juncture. MBV3-D should be able to limp to $50, while Underworld may have to settle for a little under. Hotel for Dogs will likely play to $60, though next week offers both Coraline and The Pink Panther 2, which should corner the kid market. February is chocked full of films that could perform, so we should see a very strong first quarter, especially if Watchmen is good A movie counter-programming for the often sluggish Spring. Then again, it’s hard to know with that picture.