Shia LaBeouf’s Eagle Eye soared this weekend at the box office, and Richard Gere and Diane Lane proved they still got it in the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ Nights in Rodanthe. Kirk Cameron?s Christian-themed Fireproof was far more miraculous than Spike Lee’s poorly-reviewed WWII drama, Miracle at St. Anna. But with such a varied selection of movies bowing this frame, the box office ended up 12 percent from the same period last year.
If LaBeouf’s A-list status hadn’t yet been confirmed, this weekend sealed the deal with D.J. Caruso’s thriller, which grossed an estimated $29 million, doing extra-special business in 85 IMAX theaters. The film out-grossed last year’s pairing of actor and director, Disturbia, by a solid $7 million. And while Rodanthe wasn’t exactly beloved by critics, audiences seemed enthusiastic for a grown-up romance starring two reliable stars, sending the PG-13-rated movie to the second spot this weekend with an an estimated $13.5 million haul.
Last week’s champ, the Sam Jackson thriller Lakeview Terrace, held on decently, considering the serious competition from Eagle Eye. Grossing an additional $7 million, the movie co-starring Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington, and produced by Will Smith’s company, has now earned $25 million in 10 days of release.
Released by Samuel Goldwyn, Fireproof grossed an impressive $6.5 million in just 839 theaters, putting its per-theater average at $7,764, the second-highest in the frame, just behind Eagle Eye. Faith-based audiences comprised the majority of ticket buyers, purchasing ahead of time in bulk for this story about a local firefighting hero whose marriage is falling apart. The movie took the fourth spot, beating out The Coen Bros.’ Burn After Reading, which earned an estimated $6.1 million in its third week in release. The George Clooney-Brad Pitt-starrer has now grossed $45 million, surpassing the last two Coen-Clooney pairings, Intolerable Cruelty and O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Spike Lee’s Miracle had a much harder time gaining traction. Released in only 1,185 theaters, far less than Eagle Eye, but considerably more than Fireproof, the R-rated film grossed a paltry $3.5 million for a ninth spot in the rankings.
Among the new limited release movies, Choke and The Lucky Ones had a tough time. Fox Searchlight’s Choke generated only $1.3 million on 462 screens for a weak per-screen of $2,890. That average looks solid in comparison to The Lucky Ones, starring Tim Robbins and Rachel McAdams. Proving still that Americans have no interest in watching anything to do with the war (even if the word Iraq is never spoken), the movie from director Neil Burger earned only $208,000 on 425 screens for a disastrous average of $489. Between the slow roll out of Oscar contenders and the more popcorny wide releases, the box office is on a roll now, and we’re likely to see some solid numbers for weeks to come.