Box Office Breakdown: Bieber Can’t Beat Sandler

108924430 Box Office Breakdown: Bieber Cant Beat SandlerThis week’s box office was glutted with new releases for the first time this year–the post-Christmas season doldrums may finally be over, as the top four films were all debuts! The arms race we didn’t knew existed between Adam Sandler and Justin Bieber came to a virtual draw–let’s see the numbers!

1. Just Go With It: $31 million (new)

That this film ended up in the top spot is likely a consequence of theater count–its per-theater average was less than Never Say Never‘s and just slightly over Gnomeo and Juliet‘s. That said, Sandler and Aniston are a surer bet for exhibitors, and the film played in far more theaters than either of the other films. (All three films had very high averages and total grosses compared to last weekend’s Super Bowl-depressed totals.) The film grossed about $10 million less its opening weekend than Sandler’s last outing, Grown Ups, but the lack of springtime competition bodes well for Just Go With It‘s long-term prospects. It’s also Aniston’s biggest opening since The Break-Up in 2006–both stars can still pull out a hit, it seems! (Guess the heavy promotion worked.)

2. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: $30.3 million (new)

Bieber had a weekend of narrow misses–his fans can make voodoo dolls of Esperanza Spalding and the 443 theater owners who played Just Go With It but not Never Say Never. The film had a glorious $9,746 average, but concert films tend to open with big per-screen numbers then drop like stones at the box office: just ask the Jonas Brothers. In fact, Justin, you might want to ask their advice about a few things–you know, just in case.

3. Gnomeo and Juliet: $25.5 million (new)

These numbers are strikingly high for what seemed like a throwaway kids’ movie–but there’s little else out there for the audience too young for Bieber. The numbers shouldn’t sag too much over the long Presidents’ Day weekend, though this won’t make the Toy Story producers lose any sleep.

4. The Eagle: $8.6 million (new)

It’s a big jump from the top three film’s numbers down to The Eagle‘s. Did you see The Eagle? Did anyone you know see The Eagle? Without big stars or game-changing action, historical drama will always be a tough sell (c.f. Kingdom of Heaven, Tristan and Isolde). It’ll find an audience once it’s left theaters, we expect, but not because of history buffs.

5. The Roommate: $8.4 million ($26.1 million total, second week)

The Roommate could have stumbled even worse–it has at least a little staying power, considering the number of new releases and that its business didn’t drop by more than half. Leighton Meester isn’t a box office draw yet–in about two weeks, this movie will have faded away entirely–but nor did she embarrass herself badly. Well, at leat not commercially. Artistically, on the other hand… anyway, outside the top five, The King’s Speech is nearing $100 million!

ddaddario@observer.com :: @DPD_