`He's Just Not That Into You' woos with $27M debut

February 8, 2009 1:35:11 PM PST
Movie fans were into "He's Just Not That Into You" as the ensemble romance got a jump on Valentine's Day to lead the weekend box office with a $27.5 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday. The movie whose cast includes Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Connelly knocked off the previous weekend's top flick, the abduction thriller "Taken," which dropped to second place with $20.3 million.

With Valentine's Day falling in the middle of next weekend, the movie released by the Warner Bros. banner New Line Cinema is positioned for another solid showing, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros.

"We're really walking into a terrific weekend. The biggest bump you can ever get for a romantic comedy is when Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday," Fellman said. "We'll see the girls, female power, drag the guys back in next Saturday."

"Taken," distributed by 20th Century Fox, raised its 10-day total to $53.4 million, its second-weekend gross dropping just 18 percent from its debut. Top films often can drop 50 percent or more in their second weekend.

Two movies featuring Dakota Fanning opened in the top 10 - Focus Features' animated adventure "Coraline" at No. 3 with $16.3 million and Summit Entertainment's sci-fi thriller "Push" at No. 6 with $10.2 million.

Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau bumbled through the weekend as "The Pink Panther 2" turned in a so-so $12 million debut to finish at No. 4. The Sony-MGM sequel came in well behind 2006's "The Pink Panther," which premiered with $20.2 million.

Hollywood continued its hot streak as the top 12 movies hauled in $131.4 million, up 46 percent from the same weekend last year, when the romantic comedy "Fool's Gold" was No. 1 with $21.6 million.

Overall revenues are just above $1.2 billion for the year and are running 19.4 percent ahead of 2008's, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

"It seems like every film that's been opening has been doing better than expected, or many of them have," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. "I've not seen the start of a year this strong in my entire career."

Academy Awards front-runner "Slumdog Millionaire" continued to make good on its Oscar buzz, pulling in $7.4 million and raising its total to $77.4 million. The movie passed "Sideways" to take second-place on Fox Searchlight's list of highest-grossing films, behind "Juno" at $143 million.

In narrow release, the Weinstein Co. comedy "Fanboys" opened modestly with $164,000 in 44 theaters, averaging $3,727 a cinema. That compared to an $8,650 average in 3,175 theaters for "He's Just Not That Into You."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "He's Just Not That Into You," $27.5 million.
2. "Taken," $20.3 million.
3. "Coraline," $16.3 million.
4. "The Pink Panther 2," $12 million.
5. "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," $11 million.
6. "Push," $10.2 million.
7. "Slumdog Millionaire," $7.4 million.
8. "Gran Torino," $7.2 million.
9. "The Uninvited," $6.4 million.
10. "Hotel for Dogs," $5.8 million.

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Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.

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