For the third straight year, the weekend before Halloween was ruled by a
$30M+ opening from the Saw
franchise proving that the horror series is still the top choice for those
looking for a scare. While
Saw IV
debuted at number one with a brutal box office bow, the romantic
dramedy Dan in
Real Life
starring
Steve Carell
opened impressively in second place and made for a popular counter-programming
choice for those not interested in blood and gore. Overall, the North American
box office came back to life as the top ten was about even with this same
weekend in each of the last two years when by no coincidence earlier Saw
installments reigned supreme.

Lionsgate’s wildly successful fall movie slate welcomed another hit with
Saw IV
which topped
the charts with an estimated $32.1M launch taking in more ticket sales than the
next four films combined. It was the largest debut for any film since the comedy
Superbad in
mid-August, the best opening for any horror film this year, and proved that the
distributor’s highly profitable franchise was still a big hit with fans.
Premiering in 3,183 theaters, the R-rated torturefest averaged a gruesome
$10,088 per site. The performance was a bit below the $33.6M opening of
Saw III
from this
weekend last year and ahead of the $31.7M start for
Saw II
in 2005. Those
films reached $87M and $80.2M, respectively in the domestic market. As the
fourth installment in a horror franchise, Saw IV should suffer rapid erosion in
the weeks ahead, but a muscular final gross of $70-75M could still result.


Buena Vista delivered a strong start for its comedy-drama offering
Dan in Real Life

which bowed to an estimated $12.1M from 1,921 theaters for a solid $6,289
average per venue. The Steve Carell vehicle about a widower who falls for his
brother’s girlfriend posted impressive numbers given its moderately wide release
and benefited from the studio’s sneak previews last weekend which helped to
spread word-of-mouth for a film that was not necessarily an easy sell. Critics
had mixed feelings but were generally pleased with Dan.


With Saw IV stealing away the horror crowd, the vampire thriller
30 Days of Night

fell sharply in its second weekend dropping 58% to third place with an estimated
$6.7M. Sony’s $30M fright flick has scared up $27.3M in ten days and looks
headed for about a $40M finish.


Disney’s family comedy
The Game Plan

enjoyed a great hold in its fifth frame sliding only 24% to an estimated $6.3M
for a $77.1M cume. Lionsgate found itself in fifth with
Why
Did I Get Married?
which grossed an estimated $5.7M, off 53%, giving
the Tyler Perry
hit $47.3M to date. So far this fall, the distributor has opened four films with
debut averages of over $5,000 including two with averages north of $10,000.


A pair of well-reviewed adult dramas followed suffering only small declines.
George Clooney‘s
legal thriller
Michael Clayton
dipped only 25% to an estimated $5M giving Warner
Bros. a solid $28.7M to date. Miramax witnessed a good sophomore hold with its
Ben Affleck-directed
mystery Gone
Baby Gone
which took in an estimated $3.9M, down just 29%, pushing
the ten-day total to $11.3M.


The sports spoof comedy
The Comebacks

collected an estimated $3.5M in its second weekend, down a moderate 38%, and put
its sum at $10M after ten days. A $17-19M final is likely. Sony’s crime drama
We Own the Night

followed dropping 37% to an estimated $3.4M giving the
Joaquin
Phoenix
/Mark
Wahlberg
pic $25.1M thus far. Rounding out the top ten was the latest
re-release of Tim
Burton
‘s

The

Nightmare Before Christmas
which fell 37% to an estimated $3.3M
giving the Disney title $10M from its limited engagement.


Two star-driven underachievers dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The
Reese
Witherspoon
Jake
Gyllenhaal
drama
Rendition
declined by 42% in its second frame taking in an estimated
$2.4M for a ten-day tally of just $7.8M. A $13-15M final should result for New
Line. Paramount’s
Ben Stiller
flop
The Heartbreak Kid
 
tumbled 54% to an estimated $1.8M leaving the pic with only $35.1M overall. The
Farrelly brothers project will struggle to reach $39M.


Generating a scorching bow in a platform launch in New York was
Sidney Lumet‘s
critically acclaimed drama

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
which grossed an estimated
$73,500 from only two houses for a strong $36,750 per site. ThinkFilm reported
that numerous moviegoers were turned away at sold out shows on Friday and
Saturday and that the film will expand into six additional markets for a total
of 50 locations this Friday.



Also showing strength in its debut was the inspirational tale
Bella
with an
estimated $1.3M from 165 playdates for a solid $8,026 average. The Roadside
Attractions release targeted the Latino and faith-based audiences and won the
Audience Award at Toronto last year.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $82M which was off 2% from last year when
Saw III debuted in first place with $33.6M; and down a scant 1% from 2005
when Saw II opened in the top spot with $31.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandaya,
www.boxofficeguru.com

This week at the movies we have a lovelorn single dad (Dan
in Real Life
, starring
Steve Carell and
Juliette Binoche),
brothers on a train (The Darjeeling Limited,
starring
Owen Wilson and
Jason Schwartzman,
and the return of Jigsaw (Saw IV,
starring Tobin
Bell
and
Scott Patterson
). What do the critics have to say?

The perpetually awesome
Steve Carell and
Juliette Binoche team up for
Dan
in Real Life
, a rom-com about an advice columnist who falls for his
brother’s significant other. It sounds good on paper: who wouldn’t be intrigued
by the pairing of the brilliantly guileless Carell with Binoche, an actress of
uncommon range and depth? Though Life suffers from an uneasy mix of sitcom wackiness and sentimentality, director Peter Hedges has a clear love for the film’s characters, with most critics agreeing Carell and company overcome the weak script. At 60 percent, Dan looks to survive his mid (Tomatometer) Life crisis.
 





"Want to join my Lynne Cheney book discussion group?"


Wes Anderson‘s back, and with him comes the visual splendor and melancholy humor
for which he’s known. In
The Darjeeling Limited
,
Adrien Brody joins
Anderson regulars Owen Wilson and
Jason Schwartzman in the story three brothers
trekking across the Subcontinent in search of spiritual truth. The critics
aren’t all on board with Darjeeling; some find Anderson’s quirks
overwhelming and impersonal. But the majority says it’s engaging and funny in
that deadpan Wes Anderson way, with loads of quirky visual touches. At 66
percent on the Tomatometer, The Darjeeling Limited may be worth the trip.
(Check out our Wes Anderson Total Recall feature
here.)
 



“I’m telling you, Wes Anderson has never seen Harold and Maude!”


For those of you who yearn for even more insight into the twisted mind of
Jigsaw, you’re in luck: Saw IV hits theaters Friday. However, if you’re a
movie critic, you won’t be able to see it before the rest of us civilians, since
it wasn’t screened before release. Whoever correctly guesses the Tomatometer
will be the sharpest tool in the RT shed.
 




Scott Patterson wishing he were back in Stars Hollow.
 

Also opening this week in limited release:
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
,
a doc about the venerable folksinger/lefty activist, is at 92 percent on the
Tomatometer;
The Living and the Dead
, a psychological
horror film about
an unbalanced man caring for his sick mother, is at 89 percent;
Jimmy Carter
Man From Plains
,
Jonathan Demme‘s doc about the 39th president, is at 81
percent;
Sidney Lumet‘s


Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
, a family drama starring
Philip Seymour
Hoffman
, Marisa Tomei, and
Ethan Hawke, is at 79 percent;
The Island, a
Russian import about a soldier who takes refuge in a monastery, is at 71
percent;
Mr. Untouchable
, a doc about the rise and fall of drug kingpin
Nicky Barnes, is at 63 percent;
Lynch
, an examination of the man behind
Twin
Peaks
, is at 63 percent;
Black Irish
, a coming-of-age dysfunctional
family drama, is at 50 percent;
Lagerfeld Confidential
, a doc about the
fashion icon, is at 45 percent;
Music Within
, a drama about a Vietnam Vet
who fought for the rights of the disabled, is at 38 percent;
O Jerusalem
,
a dramatization of the establishment of Israel, is at 33 percent;
Slipstream
,
written and directed by Anthony Hopkins, is at 30 percent;
Bella
, about
an unconventional love story in New York City, is at 30 percent; and
Rails &
Ties
, a drama about a family struggling with illness starring
Kevin Bacon
and Marcia Gay Harden, is at 23 percent.
 





Seeger, with some random groupie.
 

Finally, props to
m_ioannidis for coming the closest to guessing
The
Comebacks
10 percent Tomatometer. And semi-props to
SplendidIsolation and
BlueStar 50 for coming the closest to guessing
Sarah Landon and the
Paranormal Hour
‘s zero percent score.

Recent Steve Carell Movies:
———————————–
24% — Evan Almighty (2007)
74% — Over the Hedge (2006)
92% — Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
83% — The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
51% — Melinda and Melinda (2005)

Saws:
—————–
27% — Saw III (2006)
35% — Saw II (2005)
46% — Saw (2004)