KIDS ARE NOT GOING WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
It may have been based on a slight children's book, but most moviegoers who caught Warner Bros.' Where the Wild Things Are over the weekend were single adults. Only 27 percent were parents with children, the studio said. The film earned an estimated $32.5 million -- a solid debut for a film that reportedly cost about $80 million. But studio executives were closely studying results for weekend matinee performances which came in lower than usual for a PG-rated movie. Much now depends on word-of-mouth, analysts indicated. And Warner's distribution chief Dan Fellman told the Los Angeles Times, "It's going to take another week until we figure it all out." Meanwhile, two other debuting films performed far better than expected. Law Abiding Citizen, which analysts expected would earn $10-15 million, wound up with $21.3 million. And Sony's horror flick The Stepfather took in $12.3 million. Critics said that while Law Abiding Citizen attempts to raise some serious questions about criminal sentencing, it is merely pretense. In the New York Times, A.O. Scott commented that the movie "has about as much to say about real-life legal issues as Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen had to say about defense policy." The Stepfather, although it was not screened in advance for critics, wound up with fairly positive reviews by those who caught it over the weekend. Writing for the Los Angeles Times Kevin Thomas called it a "rarity, an effective remake of a screen classic that can stand alone on its own considerable merits." But the biggest weekend winner hands down was Paramount's Paranormal Activity, "the little film that could." The movie, which reportedly cost only $15,000 to make, brought in $20.2 million at just under 800 theaters, averaging $26,500 per theater. Next weekend, it moves into 1,800 theaters (and takes on Saw VI, which opens on Friday).
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:
1. Where the Wild Things Are, $32.5 million; 2. Law Abiding Citizen, $21.3 million; 3. Paranormal Activity, $20.2 million; 4. Couples Retreat, $17.9 million; 5. The Stepfather, $12.3 million; 6. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, $8.1 million; 7. Zombieland, $7.8 million; 8. Toy Story/Toy Story 2 in 3-D, $3 million; 9. Surrogates, $1.92 million; 10. The Invention of Lying, $1.9 million.
UP STAYS WAY UP OVERSEAS
Overseas, Disney/Pixar's Up soared to first place again, taking in $27.9 million in 24 countries. It has held the top spot at the foreign box office in four of the past five weeks. In the U.K., the computer-animated feature remained the No. 1 film with $9 million, more than the next 14 films in British cinemas combined. Disney also held the No. 2 spot abroad as G-Force counted up $12.5 million.
GLICKMAN CONFIRMS HE'LL STEP DOWN AS MPAA CHIEF NEXT YEAR
Jack Valenti may have held onto his post as head of the Motion Picture Association of America for 38 years, but Dan Glickman, the man who succeeded him, is bowing out after five. In an interview with Politico.com, Glickman said that he will not seek to renew his contract, which expires next September, adding that his "guess" is that he'll join a nonprofit group or join "the academic world." As for his successor, Glickman told Politico: "It's really important they find a leader who has this combination of traits: access, stature, knowledge, who has some feel for what new technology is all about as well, and they have to love the movies. ... I'm still going to be here another 11 months. There are some priorities I think I can be extremely helpful in, including the whole issue of Internet piracy, ratings issues, even while we're looking for a successor." Meanwhile, CNET News reported over the weekend that the MPAA has fired three key leaders, each of whom was involved in anti-piracy operations, including Greg Goeckner, the MPAA's general counsel.
IGER PREDICTS "PROFOUND CHANGES" IN MOVIE BUSINESS
Saying that the movie industry "is changing right before our eyes in profound ways," Disney chief Robert Iger said Saturday that those running the business will also have to make profound changes "or you will no longer have a business." Speaking at an entertainment conference hosted by the USC Gould School of Law and the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Iger singled out the DVD business, which continues to slide by double digits annually. The advent of home theaters and high-definition Blu-ray discs has not halted the skid, Iger said, noting that the average family already has around 80 movies in their libraries and they're not replacing their older discs with Blu-ray equivalents in the way that they once replaced VHS tapes with discs. "We have seen some but not as much as we would like," he remarked. Moreover, he said, people have found other ways to entertain themselves at home, noting that his 11- and 7-year-old sons would rather play videogames. ("They are the best laboratory I know," he remarked.) He indicated that in order to bolster the home-video business, the window between the time a movie is released in theaters and on DVD must be shortened. "In order to keep the DVD business vital, that product has to be perceived as being fresh," he said. Moreover, he suggested the long delay from theater to disc has given pirates an opportunity to move in. "In South Korea, it obliterated the secondary market so much so that we closed our home-video operations," Iger told his audience. He stopped short of announcing that Disney will move up its home-video release schedule, noting that his previous hints that the company would do so brought howls of protests from theater owners. Besides, he said, "I don't want to make too many headlines today." Another speaker at the conference, WME Co-chairman Ari Emanuel, suggested that the industry needs to enlist the air of government to crack down on pirates. He applauded the French government for passing legislation that requires Internet Service Providers to cut off users after warning them twice about illegal downloading.