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'Eagle Eye' swoops to No. 1 at box office

The thriller is helped by a shrewd scheduling move. No. 2 'Nights in Rodanthe' beats expectations.

September 29, 2008|Elizabeth Douglass | Times Staff Writer

"Eagle Eye" soared in theaters this weekend, providing a strong, $29.2-million boost to a movie industry that was in the post-summer doldrums at the box office.

The DreamWorks/Paramount movie, starring Shia LaBeouf, opened at No. 1 and landed in fourth place on a list of top-grossing September releases. The PG-13 thriller, which was moved to the fall from what was a crowded summer season, came in at the high end of expectations, which ranged from $25 million to $30 million.

"It played a little bit like a summer film in the fall," said DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan. "We believe we opened bigger this weekend than if we had opened in the summer."

Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers in Encino, said the film's performance "proves that even though there is a summer season, there are opportunities all over the calendar."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, September 30, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Box office: A caption with a Business article Monday on weekend movie ticket sales misidentified actress Michelle Monaghan as Rachel Holloman, the character she plays in "Eagle Eye."

"It's a shot in the arm for the industry. . . . We've had two months of down-trending at the box office," Dergarabedian said.

The weekend gross for the top 12 movies -- including better-than-expected results for No. 2 "Nights in Rodanthe" -- totaled $87.8 million, a 15.2% jump from the year-ago weekend, according to Media by Numbers.

"Eagle Eye" opened in 3,510 theaters, including strongly attended showings in 85 big-screen Imax locations.

At Imax, the movie brought in $1.7 million over the weekend. Though a tiny fraction of the "Eagle Eye" total, it was 20% better than any film launched on Imax screens in September or October, said Greg Foster, chairman of Imax Filmed Entertainment.

"Imax is an amazingly important component in the success of these big movies," Dergarabedian said. "They are a year-round business."

"Nights in Rodanthe," the screen adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, was released Friday to 2,704 theaters and came in second with $13.6 million for the weekend, exceeding expectations of nearly $10 million.

The romance film from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow paired Richard Gere and Diane Lane and offered an alternative for those unmoved by techno-thrillers. The film was expected to appeal to women older than 30, and that group showed up in droves: About 75% of the audience were women, and 78% were older than 30, said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of distribution for Warner Bros.

"It was a tremendous open," Goldstein said. "We thought that we could get hurt a lot because of the debate." Competition from Friday's presidential debate slowed turnout that night, but Saturday's attendance more than made up for it, he said.

Sony's "Lakeview Terrace" came in third, with $7 million for the weekend, down 53% from the prior week. The film's three-week total was $25.7 million, the studio said.

"Fireproof," a Samuel Goldwyn film with religious undertones, opened in fourth place, with $6.5 million -- nearly double some expectations. "Their faith-based, grass-roots marketing campaign really paid off," Dergarabedian said.

Focus film "Burn After Reading" rounded out the top five with $6.2 million, bringing its three-week total to $45.5 million. MGM's "Igor" ranked sixth in its second weekend, with $5.5 million.

Among other movies launched over the weekend: "Miracle at St. Anna" from Disney landed at No. 9 with $3.5 million -- substantially lower than expectations. "Choke," from Fox Searchlight, drew a disappointing $1.3 million.

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elizabeth.douglass@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Box office

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

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

1 Eagle Eye (DreamWorks/Paramount) $29.2 $29.2 1

2 Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Bros.) 13.6 13.6 1

3 Lakeview Terrace (Sony/Screen 7 25.7 2 Gems)

4 Fireproof (Samuel Goldwyn) 6.5 6.5 1

5 Burn After Reading (Focus) 6.2 45.5 3

6 Igor (MGM) 5.5 14.3 2

7 Righteous Kill (Overture Films) 3.8 34.8 3

8 My Best Friend's Girl (Lionsgate) 3.8 14.5 2

9 Miracle at St. Anna (Disney) 3.5 3.5 1

10 The Family That Preys (Lionsgate) 3.2 32.8 3 *--*

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Industry totals

*--* 3-day gross Change Year-to-date gross Change (in millions) from 2007 (in billions) from 2007 $102 + 12.3% $7.1 - 0.59% *--*

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Source: Media by Numbers

Los Angeles Times

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