'Hannah' is top banana

3-D means Disney, ducats, dollars

"Hannah" added an extra dimension to the domestic boxoffice this weekend.

With an estimated $29 million opening from just 683 venues, Disney's "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" proved to be every bit the magnificent tweens magnet that eager 3-D exhibitors had anticipated. But the Super Bowl boxoffice weekend was dulled elsewhere by pigskin-sapping Sunday grosses.

Lionsgate's female-skewing thriller "The Eye" managed a $13 million bow in second place, but the New Line-distributed comedy "Over Her Dead Body" opened outside the top 10 with just $5.4 million. And Paramount Vantage's comedy "Strange Wilderness" debuted with only $3.1 million.

"Hannah" follows closely on the heel of a live tour by 15-year-old actress and singer Cyrus, star of the popular Disney Channel show "Hannah Montana." The 3-D concert film is set to run for just two weeks at this point, though exhibitors can request longer runs.

Its first weekend featured widespread sellouts and grosses that amounted to an eye-popping $42,460 per screen, with the film playing only in digital 3-D auditoriums.

"We were very lucky," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said. "We had a very charismatic young lady who was fabulous (in) helping push the movie."

The "Hannah" opening was the best ever for Super Bowl weekend, outpacing 2006's $21.6 million performance by Sony's "When a Stranger Calls," Nielsen EDI said.

Industrywide, the weekend's $126 million in collective boxoffice represented a 37% improvement over the same frame a year earlier, EDI said. That made for the seventh consecutive year-over-year weekend uptick.

Last weekend's No. 1, Fox's spoof "Meet the Spartans," dropped 61% in its sophomore session to $7.1 million, landing in fifth place with a cumulative boxoffice of $28.3 million. Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" from Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co. also dropped a big 61% in its second weekend, collecting $7 million in sixth place for a $29.8 million cume.



Sony Screen Gems' thriller "Untraceable" dropped 52% from its first frame to $5.4 million in eighth place, moving its 10-day cume to $19.5 million.

The Academy Award nominees for best picture continued to dominate the specialty market.

Fox Searchlight's comedy "Juno" nabbed fourth place on the weekend with $7.5 million, bringing its cume to a distributor-record $110.3 million. The Daniel Day-Lewis starrer "There Will be Blood" from Paramount Vantage and Miramax rung up $4.8 million to shape a $21.1 million cume and finish 10th on the frame.

The Keira Knightley and James McAvoy starrer "Atonement," from Focus Features and Working Title, shed 33 playdates for a total of 1,367 in grossing $3 million. That represented $2,211 per engagement and wrought a $42.2 million cume.

The Coen brothers thriller "No Country for Old Men" from Miramax and Paramount Vantage added 166 theaters for a total of 1,273 and grossed $2.2 million, or $1,716 per venue, with a $55.1 million cume. And Warner Bros.' George Clooney starrer "Michael Clayton" shed 92 locations for a total of 1,110 and grossed $1.8 million, or $1,752 per site, with a $44.2 million cume.

Sony Pictures Classics' Iranian-themed "Persepolis," nominated in for the Oscar for best animated feature, added 42 playdates for a total of 100 and grossed $403,925, or $4,039 per engagement, with a $1.9 million cume.

Elsewhere, ThinkFilm expanded limited runs for three documentaries. "Taxi to the Dark Side" added one theater for a total of four and grossed $5,524, or $1,381 per venue with a $32,857 cume; "Nanking" added four playdates for a total of 10 and grossed $19,445, or $1,945 with a $122,488 cume; and "War/Dance" added eight locations for a total of 10 and grossed $7,001, or $700 per site with a $71,248 cume.

National Geographic Cinema's "U2 3D" held in 61 Imax locations and grossed $762,049, or $12,493 per venue with a $2.2 million cume ahead of a Feb. 15 expansion into hundreds of digital 3-D auditoriums.

Meanwhile, the Super Bowl caused distributors to pencil in soft Sunday grosses across the board, with "Hannah" the big exception and other female-oriented titles doing relatively more solid business.



"Eye," a Paramount Vantage co-production, drew audiences skewing 56% female, with 75% of patrons age 17-29. Demographic breakdowns weren't immediately available for "Body," a Gold Circle production on which New Line is getting a distribution fee, or for "Wilderness," starring Steve Zahn.

Looking to next weekend, wide openers will include the MGM horror film "The Poughkeepsie Tapes," Universal's Martin Lawrence comedy "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins" and Warners' Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey starrer "Fool's Gold."

None of those appear threatened by sophomore session competition from "Hannah." But the Disney feature is suddenly a candidate for repeat business from its core constituency of girls age 9-12.

Disney film group president Mark Zoradi said the decision to offer exhibitors a chance to extend "Hannah" over coming weekends was made after it became apparent there was an outsized interest in the barely wide 3-D release. Disney is constrained from broadening the film's playdates, as it's already playing in virtually every digital auditorium in existence, expect for a handful deemed noncompetitive because of their locations near other digital screens.

"The extra playing time will give more fans a chance to see their favorite performer, (and) it will also accommodate those fans who want to come and enjoy the experience again," Zoradi said. "Miley is clearly one of today's most exciting, talented and charismatic performers."

A spokesman for the Fandango online-ticketing service said that strong Sunday orders showed no let up in the huge "Hannah" interest.

Almost one-third of the opening-weekend tickets for "Hannah" were sold by Fandango, which rated the film as its best-ever February seller, outdistancing 2004's "The Passion of the Christ." "Hannah" marked the fifth-best opening sales of any title handled by the online ticketer, with May 2005's "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" the best-ever advance ticket seller for Fandango.
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