With an estimated take of $22 million, "The Forgotten" opened more memorably than industry projections had indicated going into the weekend.
It was the biggest opening to date for Julianne Moore in the first major studio picture she has carried as the main star.
Significantly, business for the Revolution Studios production "The Forgotten" was up 14% from Friday to Saturday, an increase that has become relatively rare these days.
"It's a good date-night movie," Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesman Steve Elzer surmised. Its audience was 58% female, and about 60% of its ticket buyers were over 25. That it was a thriller opening in what Elzer described as "a soft market" may have been as big a factor in its performance as Moore.
On Saturday, Sony became the first studio this year to cross the $1-billion mark in domestic box office, the third year in a row the company has done so. Interestingly, however, it's the first time since 2001 that it has taken this long for a studio to surpass that mark. Last year Disney accomplished it in early August, and in 2002 Sony made it in July.
Industrywide, total box office is at roughly $6.8 billion for the year, 4% ahead of last year, according to box office tracking firm Nielsen EDI.
Among other openers, 20th Century Fox's "First Daughter" landed disappointingly in fourth place with $4 million (in a tie with "Resident Evil"), behind Paramount's "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" and Disney's "Mr. 3000," respectively, in their second weekend.
"Shaun of the Dead," the romantic-comedy zombie movie that marked the debut release of Focus Features genre label Rogue Pictures, opened in eighth place with just under $3.3 million in 607 theaters.
Focus Features' "Motorcycle Diaries," director Walter Salles' chronicle of a famed road trip, with Gael Garcia Bernal in the role of the young man who would become Che Guevara, opened in New York and Los Angeles in three locations with an estimated $157,054 for an impressive per-theater average of $52,351.
Preliminary results (in millions) based on studio projections.
*--* Movie 3-day gross Total The Forgotten $22.0 $22.0
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow 6.7 25.6
Mr. 3000 5.0 15.3
Resident Evil: Apocalypse 4.0 43.4
First Daughter 4.0 4.0
Cellular 3.7 25.1
Wimbledon 3.4 12.2
Shaun of the Dead 3.3 3.3
Without a Paddle 2.4 53.5
Hero 2.3 49.2
Source: Nielsen EDI Inc.
-- R. Kinsey Lowe