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'Lakeview Terrace' is No. 1

Samuel Jackson's cop thriller can't arrest the overall slide in ticket sales. 'Burn After Reading' is still hot.

September 22, 2008|Tiffany Hsu | Times Staff Writer

A bad cop bullied his way to the top of the weekend box office as a menacing Samuel L. Jackson in Sony Pictures' "Lakeview Terrace" overcame Lionsgate's "My Best Friend's Girl."

Jackson, playing an LAPD officer who harasses an interracial couple who move in next door, took in an estimated $15.6 million across 2,464 screens.

Produced for a modest $20 million by Lionsgate branch Screen Gems and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment, the PG-13 thriller is Sony's second opening this year at No. 1.

But across the board, ticket sales were down again.

Last weekend was the first time box-office grosses improved after seven straight weeks of slipping sales. Year-to-date revenue, at $6.99 billion, has fallen from last year's $7.04 billion.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, September 24, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Box office: An article in Business on Monday said the movie "Lakeview Terrace" was produced by Lionsgate branch Screen Gems and was Sony Pictures' second opening this year at No. 1. Screen Gems is a unit of Sony, and the movie was Sony's fifth opening this year in the top spot.

Sony's "Resident Evil: Extinction," the box-office winner this time last year, attracted $23.7 million in sales. Attendance has dived 4.6% compared with 2007.

The typical lull between the summer and the holidays usually is caused by viewers getting distracted by a new TV season, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers, a box-office tracking firm.

"This weekend is a pretty solid follow-up, but we came a little short again," he said. "We're trying to get some traction. The fall movie season is not known as a huge boom time at the box office."

"My Best Friend's Girl" had been pegged as the weekend's other major film but was scorched out of second place by the strong second-week performance of the Coen brothers' R-rated "Burn After Reading."

The dark spy comedy from Focus Features, about two gym employees who stumble on the memoir of an ousted CIA official, made an estimated $11.3 million in 2,657 theaters.

The film had a sexy advantage with Brad Pitt and George Clooney in lead roles, and its cumulative $36.4-million draw far exceeded the studio's expectations.

"Word of mouth from the first weekend worked on it, and the country has really fallen in love with this film," said Jack Foley, distribution head for Focus Features. "It just established the momentum further."

Meanwhile, "My Best Friend's Girl" flopped with audiences, who gave it an estimated $8.3-million opening and a scathing 7% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, extending star Dane Cook's streak of poorly reviewed films.

Mostly young women went to see Cook as a "rebound specialist" who is hired to chase women back to the men they recently dumped. But he falls for his buddy's former girlfriend, played by Kate Hudson.

Taking fourth place after a lull in family films, the PG-rated "Igor," about a mad scientist's hunchbacked assistant, opened with an estimated $8 million in 2,339 theaters.

The animated comedy is the first outing by tiny Venice-based Exodus Film Group and was made for less than $25 million. MGM co-produced.

"We really did take a risk, and I think people really responded to it," said Exodus founder and Chief Executive John Eraklis. "It speaks to people of all ages."

British star Ricky Gervais' dry humor helped "Ghost Town" score a fresh 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and eighth place its debut weekend.

The PG-13 DreamWorks Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment comedy earned an estimated $5.2 million across 1,505 screens with Gervais as a man who can see dead people.

Several films had limited releases this weekend but still logged healthy sales, with the costume drama "The Duchess" drawing $28,932 on average for each of its seven theaters and the Western "Appaloosa" picking up $18,429 for each theater, with 14 total.

Dergarabedian hopes "Eagle Eye," a thriller from DreamWorks and Paramount, pumps up attendance when it opens next weekend.

"There's a lot of variety of movies," he said, "just not a huge amount of moviegoing."

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tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Box office

Preliminary results (in millions) in the U.S. and Canada, based on studio projections for Sept. 19-21:

*--* Movie 3-day gross Total Weeks (studio) (millions) (millions)

1 Lakeview Terrace (Sony) $15.6 $15.6 1

2 Burn After Reading (Focus) 11.3 36.4 2

3 My Best Friend's Girl (Lionsgate) 8.3 8.3 1

4 Igor (MGM) 8.0 8.0 1

5 Righteous Kill (Overture) 7.7 28.8 2

6 The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) 7.5 28.4 2

7 The Women (Picturehouse) 5.3 19.2 2

8 Ghost Town (Dreamworks/Paramount) 5.2 5.2 1

9 The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) 3.0 521.9 10

10 The House Bunny (Sony) 2.8 45.7 5 *--*

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Industry totals

*--* 3-day gross Change Year-to-date gross Change (in millions) from 2007 (in billions) from 2007 $93 -4.2% $6.99 -.72% *--*

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Source: Media by Numbers

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Los Angeles Times

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