According to The Hollywood Reporter, while the one-two punch of the Walt Disney Co.'s Chicken Little and Universal Pictures' Jarhead might not have exceeded last year's The Incredibles opening of $70.4 million, together the new films proved to the industry and its audiences that if you make movies that compel moviegoers, they will show up at the theaters.
With the marketing might of Disney behind it, Buena Vista Distribution opened its first homegrown CG-animated film, Chicken Little, to an estimated $40.9 million. Exceeding the industry's modest expectations for the G-rated family film, Chicken reached its impressive opening numbers with the help of 84 digital 3-D-equipped screens, which alone earned an estimated $2.1 million for a per-screen average of $25,000.
Even more of a surprise was the estimated $28.8 million earned by Sam Mendes' war chronicle Jarhead. The gritty R-rated drama, budgeted at $72 million, exceeded all industry expectations and marked the highest opening numbers for Mendes and much of his male-dominated cast.
The Legend of Zorro continued to dominate the weekend boxoffice, unbuckling an estimated $17.5 million from 6,150 screens across 60 markets, though Disney's Chicken Little will be giving the film a run for its money based on its opening performance of grossing an estimated $5.5 million from nine smaller markets and 900 screens. With only three small openings, including the United Arab Emirates, Zorro's international cumulative total now stands at just over $60 million. It held on to its No. 1 ranking in both Spain and France.
Chicken was No. 1 in all of its openings estimates, which included Russia, with $1.1 million from 197 screens, the biggest ever opening for a Disney animated film; Mexico, with $3.1 million from 600 screens; and Malaysia, with $447,000 from 40 screens, the biggest opening to date for an animated film. It opens in six more countries during the coming week.
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