Max Payne, the videogame adaptation starring Mark Wahlberg, shot up an easy win at the box office, even as two of the weekend's other new releases The Secret Life of Bees and W. performed nicely, finishing in line with their respective estimates.
The No. 1 action flick grossed $18 million from Friday through Sunday. Although not quite on par with the debut totals of some other game-based movies, like the most recent Resident Evil films, which blew away more than $23 mil in their premieres, Max Payne's premiere number is a marked improvement on the first-weekend sums of Wahlberg's previous two gun-totin' flicks, last fall's cop drama We Own the Night ($10.8 mil) and early 2007's Shooter ($14.5 mil). And here's another sort of backhanded compliment: It's a good thing the movie earned as much as it did this weekend, for its lamentable CinemaScore grade of C portends a limited audience in the coming weeks.
Following a long reign as the top dog at the multiplex, Beverly Hills Chihuahua moved back a step to No. 2, with $11.2 mil on a mere 36 percent decline. The family film has banked nearly $70 mil since its wow bow three weeks ago. In actual fact, Chihuahua barked up a dollar figure almost identical to those of the next two movies, meaning that the final rankings may not be determined until Monday's final numbers are released.
As it stands now, however, The Secret Life of Bees was next at No. 3 with a sweet-as-honey $11.1 mil. Playing in a medium number of theaters (1,591), the Southern drama scored the weekend's best average among wide releases ($6,945). W. also did well given all that it had going against it. Oliver Stone's presidential biopic was voted into fourth place with $10.6 mil in 2,030 locations not bad for a movie opening during tough economic times about a man whom many Americans blame for said financial strains. But will the film be able to overcome its low approval rating from audiences (in the form of an impeachable CinemaScore grade of C) in the long run? Not likely.
Speaking of the long run, Eagle Eye continues to go strong after a month in theaters. The thriller rounded out the top five by adding another $7.3 mil to its $80 mil-plus total. Thus, it came in far ahead of the frame's final new movie, the college romp Sex Drive, which got a flat tire with just $3.6 mil way back at No. 9. Also overshadowed: The weekend's major art-house release, the Hollywood-set comedy What Just Happened?, which averaged just $6,000 in 36 locations.
Still, the overall box office was up almost 8 percent from the same weekend last year, when 30 Days of Night spooked its way to No. 1. And scary movies are exactly what we'll be talking about next time around, when Saw V slices and dices its way into theaters. So tune in again then, folks...if you dare!