This weekend, across the country, discerning film-going audiences were able to choose between two types of history: the real kind and the fake. Guess which one won?! National Treasure: Book of Secrets (no. 3), which follows the Indiana Jones-like Ben Gates as he tries to clear his family’s name in connection to the Lincoln assassination, raked in over $45 million and easily earned the top spot in the country. But here in the city, it lost out to Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War (no. 2), about an obscure congressman and his even more obscure fight to help the Afghans defeat the Soviets during the Cold War, which outearned the Nicholas Cage actioner by $5,000, while playing on one less screen. Cue Cindy Adams: Only in New York, kids!
Despite dropping 50 percent of its receipts, I Am Legend (No. 1) also managed to out-gross Treasure—by over $250,000. With a $67,000 per screen average, it was also the most popular film. Bing Crosby needs change his tune: I’m dreaming of a shit-in-your-pants Christmas …
Legend just barely had a better average than Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd (no. 4), which averaged $58,000 on just seven screens. The grim musical starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter was able to out-sing Alvin and the Chipmunks (no. 6), which returned the favor nationally.
Both Juno (no. 5) and Atonement (no. 7) continued their strong runs, despite the increased competition, with the former averaging $37,000 and the latter $24,000, both in their third weeks. Believe it or not, this means that Ellen Page and Michael Cera are the hotter couple (not Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy). See what a pair of sexy gym shorts can do?
Walk Hard (no. 9) is Judd Apatow’s first taste of failure in 2007. (Just in time!) It failed to even outgross PS I Love You (no. 8), which did marginally better with a $14,000 average on nine screens. Both of these will hang around a bit longer—big stars, big marketing budgets—but it’s clear that the most they can hope for now is to earn a spot in your Netflix queue. Happy holidays!
List of theaters: Paris, Zeigfeld, Oprheum, East 85th St., 86th St. East, 84th St., Lincoln Plaza, 62nd and Broadway, Lincoln Square, Magic Johnson, 72nd St East, Cinemas 1, 2 &3rd Ave, 64th and 2nd , Imaginasian, Manhattan Twin, First and 62nd St., Angelika Film Center, Quad, IFC Center, Film Forum, Village East, Village Seven, Cinema Village, Union Square, Essex, Battery Park 11, Sunshine, 34th Street, Empire, E-Walk, Chelsea, 19th Street East, and Kips Bay.
Manhattan Weekend Box Office: How moviegoers in the multiplexes of middle America choose to spend their ten-spot is probably a big deal in Hollywood. But here in Manhattan, the hottest movies aren’t always the ones making the big bucks nationwide. Using Nielsen numbers for Manhattan theaters alone and comparing them to the performance of the national weekend box office can tell you a lot about our Blue State sensibilities. Or nothing at all! Each Monday afternoon, we will bring you the results.