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Weekend Report: 'Hannah Montana' Rules Easter Roost

by Brandon Gray
Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana The Movie
 

 
April 13, 2009

Moviegoers ponied up a sizable $32.3 million for Hannah Montana The Movie over the weekend, marking the second-highest grossing Easter debut ever behind Scary Movie 4. Hannah combined with Fast and Furious and Monsters Vs. Aliens led to the second busiest April weekend on record, behind last weekend, and a 40 percent bump in overall business from the same timeframe last year.

Hitting approximately 4,200 screens at 3,118 venues, Hannah Montana rode past the debut of the franchise's previous movie, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.1 million at 683 3D sites), and outdrew the starting gross of the more comparable The Lizzie McGuire Movie by $15 million. According to distributor Walt Disney Pictures' exit polling, 79 percent of the audience was female, and 60 percent was under 18 years old, skewing younger and more female than the last Disney Channel success High School Musical 3: Senior Year. The studio also noted that parents and their children comprised 66 percent of the audience, and teenagers made up 28 percent. By promoting how the main character must choose between being Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana's marketing made the movie an event for fans of the relatively popular Disney Channel show on which it's based. What's more, the premise appealed as fish-out-of-comedy with Hannah Montana going from a posh pop star life to working on a farm.

On Friday, Hannah Montana raked in $17.4 million, which typically would have led to a weekend of well over $40 million, but the picture tumbled 40 percent on Saturday, ranking second to Fast and Furious on that day. With 54 percent of its weekend business coming from Friday alone, Hannah eclipsed Twilight as the movie with the most Friday-loaded first weekend on record. Hannah's weekend pattern was due to a fervent fan base and the fact that its first day was the Good Friday holiday with nearly three quarters of all schools off.

After its blazing start last weekend, Fast and Furious decelerated 62 percent to $27.2 million. The action sequel lost momentum at a rate close to 2 Fast 2 Furious, and its tally climbed to $116.5 million in ten days. Monsters Vs. Aliens hatched a solid Easter hold, mustering $21.8 million for a $140.2 million total in 17 days. Its 33 percent drop was smaller than Ice Age and Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! among other animated titles on past Easter weekends. 3D presentations comprised 60 percent of the weekend gross, including $2.4 million from IMAX venues, which were down 22 percent.

Debuting in fourth place, Observe and Report collected $11 million on around 3,000 screens at 2,727 venues, which was in the same range as Seth Rogen's last movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno but about a third of Paul Blart: Mall Cop's opening earlier this year. Now, Paul Blart is a light action comedy and Observe is an R-rated dark comedy, but to the public at large they are both mall cop comedies, and the marketing for Observe paled in comparison. Observe came off as a foggier, crazed version of Paul Blart without the relatable main character, and ads lacked pronounced punch lines, relying on the presence of Rogen to carry the day. The premise wasn't as broadly appealing as Rogen's Knocked Up or even Pineapple Express, and its passive and bland title didn't help. By dark comedy standards, though, Observe had a mid-range start, and distributor Warner Bros.' research indicated that 59 percent of the audience was male and 74 percent was in the 17 to 29 age range.

The smallest drops among nationwide releases were posted by Knowing and I Love You, Man. Knowing receded 21 percent to $6.4 million, lifting its total to $67.8 million in 24 days. I Love You, Man eased 19 percent to $6.3 million and its total grew to $58.9 million in 24 days. Below them, The Haunting in Connecticut caved 38 percent to $5.9 million for a $46.5 million tally in 17 days.

Meanwhile, Dragonball Evolution wielded a paltry $4.8 million at 2,181 sites in its debut, or about the same as Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li but from a far larger release. With a nondescript and nonsensical blast of special effects and martial arts, the picture's modest ad campaign made little attempt to attract those uninitiated in the Dragonball Japanese manga and anime series. The result was a fraction of the gross of the similar The Forbidden Kingdom from last year and also much lower than the past disappointment Bulletproof Monk.

Last Weekend
'Fast and Furious' Power Slides to Record Debut

This Timeframe in Past Years:
2008 - 'Prom Night' Tears Into Top Spot
2007 - 'Disturbia' Lives at Top Spot
2006 - 'Scary Movie 4' Cracks Easter Record
2005 - 'Horror' Takes Toll on Tax Weekend

Related Charts
Weekend Box Office Results
All Time Easter Opening Weekends
All Time April Weekend Totals
All Time Friday Share of Opening Weekend
Disney Channel Adaptations



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