Box Office Breakdown: Michael Jackson’s Startin’ Something

The most popular costume this Halloween? Nope, not the Slutty Finding Nemo we saw waiting for the subway (though definitely points for trying), but Michael Jackson! The King of Pop posthumously reigned supreme at the box office over the holiday weekend as This Is It grossed $21.3 million to pace a lackluster field. In other news: have you heard about this little movie called Paranormal Activity? As we do each Monday, here’s a breakdown of the top five at the box office.

1. Michael Jackson’s This Is It: $21.3 million ($32.5 million total)

There is this hilarious meme making its way around the internets which says the opening number for Michael Jackson’s This Is It is a disappointment. File the people saying this—cough, Nikki Finke—in the same category as those who think NASA faked the moon landing. With $32.5 million domestically since opening on Wednesday and another $68.5 internationally on top of that, This Is It can call itself the highest grossing concert film of all-time (see you in another life, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds). If you consider This Is It a documentary, then it already ranks third on the all-time list, behind only March of the Penguins and Fahrenheit 9/11. And did we mention it accomplished all of this in just five days? There is a ceiling to the final worldwide gross—the “gotta see” factor was high this weekend; expect large falls in subsequent weekends—but we doubt anyone at Sony is regretting their $60 million investment.

2. Paranormal Activity: $16.5 million ($84.7 million total)

Whether the budget for Paranormal Activity was $11,000 or $15,000 (and whether or not Paramount spent $15 million on the marketing), the horror movie is nothing other than a huge financial success. This weekend, Paranormal Activity became the highest grossing horror movie of 2009 and within the next couple of weeks it should cross the $100 million barrier. The lesson: anyone can make a blockbuster… just as long as you get Steven Spielberg’s endorsement.

3. Law Abiding Citizen: $7.3 million ($51.2 million total)

When Law Abiding Citizen came out, we bet you didn’t expect it to still be hanging around the top-five by week three. And yet, here we are and here is Law Abiding Citizen. The revenge flick dipped just 41 percent over the weekend and joins The Ugly Truth as the second straight poorly reviewed genre film co-starring Gerard Butler to do better than people expected. And yes, like Mr. Butler and the rest of the movie-going public, we’ll pretend Gamer didn’t exist.

4. Couples Retreat: $6 million ($86.6 million total)

Talk about a holiday that won’t end: Couples Retreat continued to hold up remarkably well, dropping only 42 percent to push its total near $90 million. It will be a struggle for Universal to squeeze another $14 million out of this thing to push it past the century mark, but count it as win for Vince Vaughn. If there is a more dependable relationship comedy star, we haven’t found him.

5. Saw VI: $5.5 million ($22.8 million total)

This really is a horror movie. Saw VI crumbled 60 percent this weekend, barely holding off the also-crumbling Where the Wild Things Are (down nearly 64 percent, Spike Jonze’s $100 million budgeted art house kiddie film will be lucky to break $75 million overall) to finish in fifth place. If there’s a silver lining to be had, it’s that the 60 percent depreciation represents the lowest drop in the series since Saw III. However before you get too excited, realize that Saw VI will barely break $30 million, and the other sequels in the franchise all topped $30 million on opening weekend. Ouch. Thank goodness next fall’s Saw VII will be in 3-D.

Box Office Breakdown: Michael Jackson’s Startin’ Something