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`Number 23' opens No. 2; `Ghost Rider' holds its lead

February 26, 2007|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Jim Carrey took another serious turn, this time in the new psychological thriller "The Number 23" -- but the box-office results were less than dramatic.

The New Line Cinema film stars Carrey as a man obsessing about the number 23 and fearing that a creepy book foretells his death. It opened at No. 2 over the weekend, grossing an estimated $15.1 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Topping the charts was the holdover hit "Ghost Rider," the big-budget, high-adrenaline adventure based on the Marvel comic book character. It took in $19.7 million.

The R-rated "23" opened at the low end of the studio's expectations, said David Tuckerman, New Line's distribution president.

But he noted that the picture cost a modest $30 million to produce and said it would make a profit for the studio, a unit of Time Warner Inc.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday February 27, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 59 words Type of Material: Correction
Movie box office: An article in Monday's Business section about the weekend box-office results described Walden Media as specializing in religious films and said it was the production company behind the new film "Amazing Grace." Its projects are educational and family-oriented but not faith-based, and the film was produced by Bristol Bay Productions, a sister company to Walden Media.

"This was right in the range of where Carrey's other serious movies have opened," Tuckerman said. "We'll make money on the movie, no question."

Although many of the star's comedies, such as "Bruce Almighty" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," have become blockbusters, the actor has found mixed results commercially when stretching his wings in more serious projects.

Carrey's dramas "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Man on the Moon" opened below $10 million and "The Majestic" opened below $5 million. His 1998 drama "The Truman Show" was a smash with audiences and critics, opening at $31.5 million.

Tuckerman said he hoped that Carrey's star power would help the new film hold up at the box office in the coming weeks despite its poor reviews. He said the strong per-theater average box-office receipts of almost $5,500 boded well.

Sony Pictures' "Ghost Rider" fell 57% from its powerful launch, grossing an estimated $19.7 million. But the movie is still on pace to gross more than $100 million in the U.S. and Canada, said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of domestic distribution.

"Ghost Rider" also is playing well overseas. In 40 other markets it has grossed $39.4 million, the studio said.

The family fantasy "Bridge to Terabithia" from Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Pictures held up solidly in its second weekend, placing third at the box office with an estimated $13.6 million.

That was a relatively mild 40% drop, reflecting positive word of mouth and little competition for family filmgoers, Disney said.

The "Cops" takeoff "Reno 911!: Miami," based on Comedy Central's hit series "Reno 911!" opened at No. 4 with $10.4 million.

That was at the low end of 20th Century Fox's expectations, although the picture about clueless cops taking on terrorists at a police convention was produced for less than $10 million.

Reviews notwithstanding, "Norbit" continued to sell tickets. It ranked No. 5 with an estimated $9.7 million, bringing its total through three weekends to about $75 million.

The drama "The Astronaut Farmer" opened with a modest take of $4.5 million, or $2,100 per theater, ranking No. 9 for Warner Bros. The tale of a feisty farmer, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who builds his own rocket opened to solid reviews.

Despite its release in fewer than 1,000 theaters, "Amazing Grace" cracked the top 10 with an estimated $4.3 million.

A promotional push by some evangelical churches helped the film, which tells the story behind the beloved hymn. It hauled in almost $5,500 per theater, matching "Ghost Rider" and "23" on that basis.

Set in 18th century England, "Amazing Grace" shows how politician William Wilberforce fought to end slavery in the empire. Its cast includes Albert Finney and Michael Gambon.

Walden Media, the production company behind "Amazing Grace," is on a roll. Specializing in religious and family-oriented fare, Walden also produced "Bridge to Terabithia" and the recent hit "Charlotte's Web."

The other new film to get a wide release over the weekend was the horror picture "The Abandoned," from Lions Gate Films and After Dark Films.

But it was almost abandoned at the box office, grossing an estimated $715,000, or $715 per theater.

Industrywide, revenue rose slightly from the same weekend in 2006. Year to date, revenue is essentially flat with 2006, and overall attendance is down about 2%, Media by Numbers said.

This coming weekend's new releases include Paramount Pictures' "Zodiac," a thriller garnering excellent early reviews, and Disney's comedy "Wild Hogs," with Tim Allen and John Travolta as suburban biker wannabes. Also opening is Paramount Vantage's "Black Snake Moan," a pulpy romance starring Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci.



Box office

Preliminary results (in millions) in the U.S. and Canada, based on studio projections:

*--* Movie 3-day gross Total Ghost Rider $19.7 $78.7

The Number 23 15.1 15.1

Bridge to Terabithia 13.6 46.2

Reno 911!: Miami 10.4 10.4

Norbit 9.7 74.7

Music & Lyrics 8.0 32.1

Breach 6.2 20.5

Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls 5.3 25.6

The Astronaut Farmer 4.5 4.5

Amazing Grace 4.3 4.3



Industry total

*--* 3-day gross Change (in millions) from 2006 $121.0 +0.7%

Year-to-date gross Change (in billions) from 2006 $1.30 +0.1%



Source: Media by Numbers

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