North American box office: ‘Monsters’ has a monster opener

People like cartoons:

1. Monsters vs. Aliens: $59.3 million (NEW)
2. The Haunting in Connecticut: $23 million (NEW)
3. Knowing: $14.7 million (2nd week; drops 40%)
4. I Love You, Man: $12.7 million (2nd week; drops 29%)
5. Duplicity: $7.7 million (2nd week; drops 45%)

actual numbers, not estimates
MvA enjoyed the third biggest opener for a March ever, in terms of dollars, though as Box Office Mojo notes, “in terms of attendance, it would barely make the Top 20.” (It had the second-best per-screen average, too, losing to Valentino: The Last Emperor, a documentary about the fashion designer, which was playing on only two screens.) Chalk that up not only to higher ticket prices in general these days but to the extra added bonus premium that comes with seeing a film like this in 3D and/or IMAX (the tix cost more for those, of course). I think it’s worth that premium — especially when regular ol’ multiplex movies barely seem better, these days, to sitting in your own living room in your pajamas and watching a DVD on a widescreen TV — and obviously a lot of other moviegoers feel the same way. Because while less than half of MvA’s screens were either 3D or IMAX or both, sales tallies from those venues accounted for more than half of the weekend’s totals. That isn’t just about the premium: it means people are willing to pay more for an experience that can’t replicate, or come close to replicating, at home.

The Haunting in CT? Lame (as MvA’s alien invader might say). But horror movies are always a good sell, not matter how no-horrific they are. I don’t get that, but what do I know?

Drops for the holdover films in the top 5 weren’t bad — all were under 50 percent — but newcomer 12 Rounds was barely a contender, debuting at No. 7 with a paltry $5.3 million.

Overall business was up 37 percent over the same weekend last year, and so continued the mostly unbroken streak of, I’m supposing, people going to the movies to forget their troubles, or people turning to the movies as a substitute luxury taking the place of whatever more indulgent entertainments they were once engaging in.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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