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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

U.S. box office: ‘High School Musical’ jumps to the big screen to big bucks

Looks like we are all Troy and Gabriella’s bitches now. Or else we’re just the bitches of multiplex-swarming tweens who cannot wait for high school (I’m not gonna be the one to tell them that it ain’t as cool as it looks). Just look at how much money these kids threw at the screen:

1. High School Musical 3: Senior Year: $42 million (NEW)
2. Saw V: $30.5 million (NEW)
3. Max Payne: $7.6 million (dropping 57% in its 2nd week)
4. Beverly Hills Chihuahua: $6.9 million (dropping 40% in its 3rd week)
5. Pride and Glory: $6.3 million (NEW)
Forty-two million bucks! That leaves the North American opening of 2008’s other big musical, Mamma Mia!, in the dust. (That one opened at $27 million, which was, for a few short months, the biggest opening ever for a musical, by a long shot.) It also makes HSM3 already, after just its first weekend, the 15th biggest moneymaking musical ever — it will climb way up that chart before it’s done, almost certainly past Dreamgirls, at No. 6 with $103 million.

Saw V opened almost exactly as well as Saw IV did on the same weekend last year (which is almost exactly as well as III and II did in the two previous years). It seems that there’s a certain segment of the audience that hasn’t yet tired of the torture-porn genre. But perhaps the rise of the modern-day Mouseketeers in the HSM gang means we’re looking at a swing toward sweetness in mainstream zeitgeist. The kids may be kinda bland, but if it’s either them or the torturing psychopath, I’ll take the kids, every time.

Strictly from the business side, though, look at this: the production costs of HSM3 and Saw V were, respectively, $11 million and $10.8 million. Even counting marketing costs, both films should already be well into the black, and everything else after this is gravy. That’s smart moviemaking. The two films combined raised the box office to levels not seen since the first weekend in August, when The Dark Knight was still going strong.

On the arthouse side, there are some numbers there that have got to be the cause of celebration. The best per-screens of the weekend were pretty astonishing, particularly that there were so many films doing so well in limited release:

1. Changeling: $33,467 on each of 15 screens
2. Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom: $32,200 (5 screens)
3. Synecdoche, New York: $19,222 (9 screens)
4. HSM3: $11,593 (3,623 venues)
5. Saw V: $9,967 (3,060 venues)
6. Happy-Go-Lucky: $9,211 (19 screens)
7. Rachel Getting Married: $8,682 (107 screens)
8. I’ve Loved You So Long: $7,520 (10 screens)

The rest of the top 10, apart from HSM3 and Saw V has low per-screens in the $2ks and $1ks, except for The Secret Life of Bees, with a per-screen of $3,641.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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  • MBI

    I’ve never seen a “torture porn” movie that made me feel as awful and violated as the original “High School Musical.”

  • MBI

    Though to be fair, maybe the sequels are better, but I highly doubt it.

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