Manhattan Weekend Box Office: Big Willy Style! Who Didn’t Go to the Movies This Weekend?

The lethal combination of Will Smith in the tentpole apocalypse-drama I Am Legend (No. 1), the nasty weather enveloping the Northeast, and nothing good happening on TV (which translates to nothing good saved for weekend DVR watching) created one of the healthiest weekends for Hollywood in some time. In Manhattan, who didn’t go to the movies? Each movie, save one, Enchanted (No. 8), averaged over the all-important $10,000 waterline, not to mention the behemoth $1 million-plus take of Legend, which broke the national box office record for a December opening with $76 million in receipts. Yowza!

Even Alvin and the Chipmunks (No. 3) managed to do spectacular business, earning $45 million nationally—far more than anyone, including this reporter, expected it to. (Did these people actually respond to the teaser which featured one of the chipmunks apparently eating pooh? Seriously?) When Jason Lee appeared in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, one could have guessed, while admiring his natural charm and good looks, that he would make it one day. (Almost Famous—fine, perfect, even.) But not like this.

As was expected, Juno (No. 2) and Atonement (No. 4) maintained their high rankings, as they both expanded into seven theaters. In its second week, the Ivan-Reitman comedy averaged close to $40,000 (an incredibly robust figure), while Joe Wright’s Atonement averaged a not-to-shabby $28,000. Remarkably, due to the expansion (and the Golden Globe nominations, presumably) the latter, which stars Keira Knightley, experienced a near-80 percent increase in revenue. How’s that for a bump?

This is the first week where No Country for Old Men (No. 6) has been ranked higher nationally, than in the city. Interest here is beginning to wan, as the film only barely managed to average over $10,000 on nine screens, but the movie collected $3 million in national receipts, making it another clear beneficiary of Awards Season buzz.

Meanwhile, another Oscar hopeful, Kite Runner (No. 7) had a strong opening—if not stellar—on three screens, averaging over $30,000 despite the delayed release and crowded marketplace. Both The Savages (No. 9) and Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (No. 10) were competing for the same audience. (Welcome, Mr. Schnabel. I knew I see you here, eventually.)

For a weekend with so many clear winners, it’s especially sad to point out the week’s clear loser: Francis Coppola’s Youth Without Youth. Oh, well. Who would have thought that Mr. Coppola would one day make a better winemaker than director? I guess Orson Welles eventually became a better wine spokesman than director, no? Maybe there’s some small comfort in that, or maybe not.

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: Big Willy Style! Who Didn’t Go to the Movies This Weekend?