King Day crown for 'Cloverfield'

Par creeper sets one holiday mark, closes in on another

Paramount's modestly budgeted monster film "Cloverfield" padded its entirely immodest bow by an estimated $6 million Monday, boosting its domestic-boxoffice-topping haul to $46 million, a record for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame.

The long weekend turned out to be the best MLK frame ever with $182 million in industry grosses, according to Nielsen EDI.

The industrywide performance outpaced by almost 7% the previous $170.7 million record, rung up during the same session in 2001. It outpaced last year's MLK-weekend haul of $156.1 million by 17%.

Distributors expected even a more lucrative four-day frame, but Sunday grosses appeared diminished by higher viewership for a pair of NFL playoff games.

Still, the weekend represented the fifth consecutive year-over-year gain; year-to-date, 2008 is 14% ahead of the same portion of last year.

"Cloverfield" had blown away the previous top MLK wide opener in just three days (HR 1/21). The Matt Reeves-helmed film bested a $33.6 million performance by "Black Hawk Down" from the 2001 MLK frame, when "Hawk" was broadened after a short limited run.

The 2004 comedy "Along Came Polly" had held bragging rights as the first completely new MLK wide opener, with $32.5 million through its first four days. "Cloverfield" now also has surpassed the best-ever performance during the four-day frame, surpassing the $36 million rung up over the 1997 MLK session during the fifth week of "Titanic."

Produced for an estimated $25 million under a new Paramount production agreement with Bad Robot, "Cloverfield" also could notch a boxoffice record for the MLK holiday itself. "Titanic" currently holds that record, after ringing up $6.004 million on the '97 holiday. So Paramount won't know until today if it outperforms its flat $6 million estimate for the day with "Cloverfield."

Paramount now holds the five top-grossing MLK wide debutantes of all time. After "Cloverfield" and "Polly," those include 2005's "Coach Carter" ($29.2 million), 2001's "Save the Last Dance" ($27.5 million) and last year's "Stomp the Yard" ($25.9 million).

Elsewhere Monday, Fox's "27 Dresses" -- a wedding-themed Katherine Heigl starrer that opened at No. 2 over the weekend -- was projected to ring up another $4.5 million on Monday, bringing its four-day purse to $27.3 million.

And Overture's female-ensemble comedy "Mad Money" grabbed $1.6 million in holiday loot to bring its opening performance to $9.2 million through Monday.
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