North American box office: ‘Marley & Me’ sits and stays at the top

We had another five-day weekend this past week, what with New Year’s Eve falling on a Wednesday, but the ranking remains the same whether we look at the five-day or the three-day weekend, so for sanity’s sake, I’m gonna stick with the three-day figures… that is, Friday, January 2, through Sunday, January 4:

1. Marley & Me: $24.3 million (2nd week; drops 33%)
2. Bedtime Stories: $20.5 million (2nd week; drops 25%)
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: $18.7 million (2nd week; drops 30%)
4. Valkyrie: $14.1 million (2nd week; drops 33%)
5. Yes Man: $13.9 million (3rd week; drops 17%)

actual numbers, not estimates
When we look at Wednesday and Thursday, though, we see Marley’s total box office so far boosted by almost $7 million on New Year’s Eve and almost $10 million on New Year’s Day (with the rest of the top 5 enjoying comparatively respectable numbers on those days, too). As of Sunday, Marley has now grossed $106 million, putting it at No. 20 overall for 2008.

Other milestones reached over the holidays: Twilight passed $175 million, and now sits at No. 8 for 2008, and likely to pass the No. 7 flick, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, just barely ahead of it, which passed $175 million between Christmas and New Year’s. Bolt passed $100 million the day after Christmas (but cost a reported $150 million to produce). Four Christmases is also now well past $100 million (yet how did that possibly cost $80 million to make?).

Limited releases continue to play strong, of course, as the awards season heats up (Oscar nominations will be announced on January 22), with the best per-screen averages going to the contenders:

Defiance: $61,757 (on each of 2 screens)
Gran Torino: $34,957 (84 screens)
Revolutionary Road: $25,946 (38 screens)
The Wrestler: $24,323 (18 screens)
Che: $17,742 (2 screens plus a 5-hour runtime)
Last Chance Harvey: $17,034 (6 screens)

Marley’s per-screen, for comparison’s sake, was $6,923 (at each of 3,505 locations).

Interesting numbers from the weekend:

Wall-E took in $311 on each of 23 screens, even though it’s already on DVD. The Dark Knight, also already on DVD, took in $869 on each of 75 screens. Both films were, presumably, to be found under trees and in stockings on Christmas morning, so who’s still turning up at the multiplex for them?

• People are still going to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua, to the tune of $320,336 this weekend, even though it’s been conclusively proven to be the work of Satan himself.

• The oldest non-IMAX-documentary movie on the charts is Wall-E, still earning dough after 28 weeks of release. Dark Knight is close behind it, at 25 weeks in release, then — perhaps less surprisingly — is Man on Wire, at 24 weeks and up 119 percent this past weekend even though it did not add any theaters, and then Vicky Cristina Barcelona, at 21 weeks and up 15 percent though it, too, did not add theaters.

A couple of decades ago, it would have been a completely ordinary thing to see a movie going strong after six months in release. Now it’s only the arthouse movies that enjoy that trajectory and the same slow build by word of mouth. There’s something in that that I can’t quite put my finger on yet, but I’m gonna turn it over for a while and see if it wants to tell me what that something is.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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