Soft bow for 'Jonas Brothers' pic

3-D concert film opens in second place with $12.7 mil

The Jonas Brothers' performance at the weekend boxoffice proved not so extra-dimensional.

Disney's "Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert" rung up an estimated $12.7 million to open in second place among domestic rankings. The haul was roughly half what many had expected for the pic based on growing appeal of 3-D projection and anticipated support among preteen fans.

The soft bow allowed Tyler Perry's "Madea Goes to Jail" from Lionsgate to repeat at No. 1 despite a big 60% drop from opening grosses. The urban comedy registered $16.5 million on the session for a 10-day tally of $64.8 million representing Perry's best-ever theatrical cume.

Like Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus before them, the Jonas Brothers have grown from early exposure on the Disney Channel to broader public acclaim. Their hitting the big screen with a 3-D concert pic followed a similar move by Cyrus in February 2008.

Disney opened Cyrus' 3-D concert film, "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds," to $31.1 million in what initially was billed as a one-week-only release. "Best of Both Worlds" eventually was extended and rung up $65.3 million overall domestically.
 
So in a notable distinction from "Concert," the bow for "Best of Both Worlds" was enhanced by fans' belief that they had to catch the Cyrus pic over its first weekend. "Concert" is set for a multiweek run, so before the pic's release, studio execs cautioned against expecting a Joneses bow of Cyrus proportions.

"I'm as happy as can be," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane insisted Sunday. "When you're looking at almost $10,000 per auditorium, that's doing really well. And it's the N. 2 concert opening of all time."

"Best of Both Worlds" played in just 687 theaters because of limited 3-D availability at the time; "Concert" played in 1,271 venues. "Concert" audiences skewed 85% female, with 65% of patrons age 17 or under.



Elsewhere this weekend, the Fox-distributed martial arts actioner "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li" debuted in eighth place with $4.7 million. "Legend" -- which was produced and financed by Hyde Park -- attracted opening audiences skewing young and male, but precise demo data were unavailable.

"It met our expectations," Fox senior vp distribution Bert Livingston said of the bow.

Fox Searchlight added several hundred playdates for its Oscar magnet "Slumdog Millionaire" and grossed $12.2 million to finish third on the frame and boost cume to $115.1 million.

"It was the highest weekend gross of a best picture Academy Awards winner in 10 years," Searchlight senior vp distribution Sheila DeLoach said.

Focus Features brought "Milk" back into wide release after topliner Sean Pen copped a best actor statuette, with the Harvey Milk biopic fetching $1.5 million to boost cume to $30.1 million.

The Weinstein Co. padded its wide release of Nazi-themed drama "The Reader" following Kate Winslet's best actress win and grossed $2.9 million for a $27 million cume.

In a limited bow, the Weinsteins unspooled Harrison Ford-Ashley Judd starrer "Crossing Over" in nine New York and Los Angeles theaters, ringing up $75,590 million, or a solid $8,399 per venue.

After Dark Films' Edward Burns starrer "Echelon Conspiracy" grossed $554,126 from 400 locations, or a thin $1,385 per site.

Sony Pictures Classics added 153 playdates for a total of 208 for its animated feature "Waltz With Bashir" and grossed $188,194, or just $905 per engagement, as cume reached $1.8 million.

SPC also expanded its French-language drama "The Class" by 11 locations for a total of 73 and grossed $313,540, or an acceptable $4,295 per site, with a $1.7 million cume.

IFC Films added 14 locations for a total of 20 for its Italian-language mob pic "Gomorrah" to register $144,829, or a sturdy $7,241 per site. "Gomorrah" cume climbed to $380,246.

And Warner Bros. added one theater for a total of 51 for its 3-D Imax nature film "Under the Sea," grossing $563,000, or an enviable $11,039 per venue, with a $2.4 million cume.

Meantime, the weekend's $112 million in collective industry grosses marked a 15% improvement over the same frame last year, according to Nielsen EDI.

Year-to-date, 2009 is up just 3% -- at $1.6 billion – but the modest nature of that rise is due only to seasonal fluctuations in the boxoffice calendar. In a stat that's much more telling of the currently hot marketplace, the domestic boxoffice has notched year-over-year upticks over seven of eight weekends this boxoffice year.

Looking ahead, arguably the year's first tentpole release -- Warners' action fantasy "Watchmen" -- already looks likely to open well.  There are no other wide openers over the coming frame, and must-see interest in "Watchmen" has been high for weeks in pre-release tracking surveys.
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