Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Great Scott! Gangster Opens With Bang; Bee Flies and Lumet Thrives

The box office was awakened this weekend from its fall slumber, as if it too had just been hit by the first cold spell of the season. American Gangster (No. 1) may have only grossed one and a half times as much as Bee Movie (No.2) nationally, but here in the city, it almost tripled the cartoon’s gross, averaging an astronomical $91,969 per theater. Gangster, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott, broke all types of genre-specific records, en route to smashing the personal opening weekend records for both actors.

A thanks from Universal, who are distributing the film, is in order to the New York Post, who keep giving wood to organized crime and feeding the city’s unquenchable thirst for news about its dons. Like one of Frank Lucas’ finely tailored suits, this film was made for Manhattan.

It’s hard to say whether Jerry Seinfeld’s countless promos, interviews, and appearances helped or hurt Bee Movie. It did very good business, but failed to wow. In the city, it easily grossed twice as much as Saw IV (No. 3) in its second week, but its per screen average, $29,743, was worse than both Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (No. 5) and Bella (No. 8), which averaged over $30,000. This probably says more about those two films than about Bee’s future prospects. But shouldn’t Seinfeld in some way be punished for those terrible interstitials NBC peppered throughout its Thursday night line-up? Especially, the one which likened finding and hiring animators to capturing Mexican immigrants crossing the border illegally. (Not following? Exactly!)

Although it is in its second week, this is Devil’s first appearance on the top ten. It expanded to three theaters from two over the weekend, and its overall gross in the city jumped 33 percent. Talk about consistency.

This week’s Straight-to-Netflix-Queue Award goes to John Cusack and his saccharine Martian Child, which failed to crack the city’s top ten and the country’s top five. It was the only movie to open wide other than Gangster and Bee Movie. And it even failed by a large margin to outgross its ostensible competition, Dan in Real Life (No. 4). If Cusack can’t carry this sentimental fare, you think the Weinstein Company is getting a little worried about Grace Is Gone, in which Cusack plays another widower? Maybe just a tad.

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.

Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Great Scott! Gangster Opens With Bang; Bee Flies and Lumet Thrives