Weekend shoots, scores with 'Brave One,' 'Yuma'

Frame's grosses up over last year

R-rated pics had guns a-blazing last weekend as Warner Bros. opened Jodie Foster's avenging-woman thriller "The Brave One" at No. 1 with $13.5 million, followed by Lionsgate's Western "3:10 to Yuma" with $8.9 million.

"Brave" — directed by Neil Jordan, produced by Joel Silver and co-financed by Warners and Village Roadshow — did particularly well with older women despite its violent content. "Yuma," starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, used a modest 35% drop in its second frame to forge a 10-day domestic cume of $28.3 million.

New Line's Billy Bob Thornton-toplined comedy "Mr. Woodcock" debuted with $8.8 million in third place, while Sony's "Superbad" finished fourth with $5.1 million in its fifth weekend for a $111.2 million cume. Freestyle/Younggu-Art's action fantasy "Dragon Wars" saw $5 million to open in fifth.

Industrywide, the weekend's top 10 films rung up $59.7 million in domestic boxoffice, according to Nielsen EDI. That represents a 6% uptick from top performers compared with the same weekend a year ago.

Among limited openings, David Cronenberg's well-reviewed "Eastern Promises" rung up a promising $547,092 from just 15 screens. Focus Features will use the film's buzz-building performance of $36,473 per screen to expand the thriller about the Russian mob in London to at least 1,350 runs Friday.

Sony saw similarly auspicious opening grosses from its 23 playdates for Julie Taymor's Beatles-fueled musical fantasy "Across the Universe," which grossed $667,784, or $29,034 per engagement. Plans call for "Universe" to expand to more than 400 runs starting Friday.

"In the Valley of Elah," the first of a group of upcoming Iraq War pics to hit theaters, bowed strongly with $133,557 in nine theaters for a per-screen average of $14,840. Warner Independent Pictures expands the Tommy Lee Jones drama Friday to about 250 runs.

WIP also bowed its Daniel Radcliffe starrer "December Boys," which fetched $15,810 in four locations for a ho-hum $3,953 per playdate. Based on Michael Noonan's novel and co-financed by Village Roadshow, "Boys" expands to 10 or more runs in six to 10 markets Friday.

Also, Picturehouse opened the period drama "Silk" on 122 U.S. screens to gross $126,537, a limp $1,037 per location. No further expansion is planned.

Elsewhere, ThinkFilm's "In the Shadow of the Moon" added 19 engagements for a total of 23 and grossed $82,335 in the space-exploration documentary's second weekend, or an acceptable $3,580 per playdate with a $135,665 cume. IFC's romantic comedy "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With" doubled its opening screen count to eight and turned in an estimated $32,196, or a respectable per-screen average of $4,025 with a $53,905 cume.

MGM continued to distribute the Weinstein Co.'s "The Hunting Party" in four locations in Los Angeles and New York, and Alliance Atlantis handled 36 new Canadian locations. The Richard Gere starrer grossed $98,851, or $2,471 per venue with an $156,673 cume.

Looking to the weekend, wide openers include Lionsgate's "Good Luck Chuck," an R-rated date comedy starring Dane Cook and Jessica Alba; Sony's "Resident Evil: Extinction," an R-rated sequel to the video game adaptation; and Universal's college comedy "Sydney White," whose youthful ensemble is toplined by Amanda Bynes.

Important limited openers this weekend include Warners' highly anticipated Brad Pitt starrer "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Also, Michael Bay's effects-laden blockbuster "Transformers," from Paramount, toting an 11-week domestic cume of $312 million, unspools in limited Imax release.
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