Box Office: Michael Jackson Is Sorta It, Boondock Sequel Not so Much

In a week without any other major studio competition, the Michael Jackson concert (rehearsal) movie “This is It” opened with $101 million worldwide, including $32 million in domestic ticket sales over a 5-day period, according to studio estimates. That’s good, but it’s nowhere as good as studio insiders had been predicting just a week ago. The domestic take, in particular, is disappointing, given that industry predictions had it in the $50-$60 million dollar range, and some brave (moronic?) Sony suit was reported to be predicting a $250 million take in the film’s first 5-days. A tad too ambitious, as it now turns out.

The concert film was stitched together from raw rehearsal footage starring Jackson as he prepared to launch a worldwide tour, which never happened when the pop singer suddenly died from a heart attack four months ago. In all, the footage and film rights cost Sony $60 million, an investment that would appear to have paid off, if not quite as handsomely as the studio has expected. Nonetheless, “This is It” has proved profitable, which may explain why Sony has announced that instead of ending the movie’s theatrical run two weeks from now as originally promised, they will instead hold the movie in theaters well into Thanksgiving. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s the studio being greedy, smart, or big fat liars.

Last week’s #1, the low-budget horror hit “Paranormal Activity” fell to second place with a still impressive $16.5 million in its second week of wide release. The movie is now available on 2,404 screens, its broadest reach so far. After six weeks in theaters (with many of those in very limited release), the haunted house movie made on the cheap has earned an outstanding $84.7 million. Not bad for a film made on a new KIA car price tag.

There were only two new movies to challenge “This is It”: Troy Duffy’s sequel to his cult him “Boondock Saints” opened in a meager 68 theaters, earning the film $462,000. The ultra-violent sequel was made on an $8 million budget (about $2 million more than the original’s budget), but considering how well the original did on cable and DVD, there’s a good chance the sequel will do just as well, if not better. There’s always a chance the distributor might put the film out on more screens if the demand is there ala “Paranormal Activity”. The third new film of the week, the indie comedy “Gentlemen Broncos” opened in 2 theaters and earned $10,000.

Notables: Spike Jonze’s “Where the Wild Things Are” seems to have run its course; the film fell to sixth place in its third week of release, with a 3-week total of $61 million, $40 million short of its budet. The Mira Nair biopic “Amelia” continues to churn along in its second week of release, taking in another $3 million from 1,070 screens. Meanwhile, “The Stepfather” remake has since earned more than its budget, which probably means you can expect an equally mediocre “Stepfather 2” in a year or two.

Box Office Top 10 (via):

.1 Michael Jackson’s This Is It $21,300,000 $32,509,000
.2 Paranormal Activity $16,540,000 $84,780,000
.3 Law Abiding Citizen $7,303,000 $51,385,000
.4 Couples Retreat $6,097,000 $86,663,000
.5 Saw VI $5,560,000 $22,824,000
.6 Where the Wild Things Are $5,081,000 $61,800,000
.7 The Stepfather (2009) $3,400,000 $24,748,000
.8 Astro Boy $3,035,000 $10,891,000
.9 Amelia $3,000,000 $8,306,000
.10 Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant $2,809,000 $10,521,000