'Stomp' makes No. 1 mark with $25.8 mil b.o. debut

Female moviegoers fuel pic's gross

It was young women who made "Stomp the Yard" an overwhelming success during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The PG-13 film from director Sylvain White surprised industry trackers, who didn't expect the film to climb into the $20 million range for the frame.

But Sony Pictures/ ScreenGems' "Stomp" grossed $25.8 million for the four-day period to upset 20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum" three-week boxoffice reign a top the charts. It was the only new release to have much of an impact at the boxoffice. Universal Pictures' "Alpha Dog" opened in seventh place to $7.4 million for the four-day frame, while Buena Vista Pictures' horror film "Primeval" bowed to $6.7 million for the period. MGM's release of the Weinstein Co.'s "Arthur and the Invisibles" opened in the ninth spot to $5.7 million. The part live-action, part animated film had a brief qualifying run Dec. 29, but no grosses were released at that time.

For the weekend, the new releases helped the total boxoffice top last year's by a scant 1.1%; at this time last year, Buena Vista bowed "Glory Road," and the Weinstein Co. unveiled "Hoodwinked."

"Stomp," which centers on a troubled kid who joins a university's step team, connected primarily with women younger than 25. According to exit pollster CinemaScore, those women came away as big fans, giving the film an A-.

"Alpha," from Universal Pictures, was not rated nearly as high. The R-rated film from writer-director Nick Cassavetes generated a B- from audiences. Split evenly between men and women, younger crowds dominated the film's audience, and they were bigger fans of the film than the over-25 crowd.

While Buena Vista says it moved its crocodile horror film "Primeval" up ahead of the Weinstein Co.'s March release of the crocodile movie "Rogue," considering the critical reaction to the R-rated film and the audience response, one could argue that the film was buried in the low-moviegoing month of January. Directed by Michael Katleman and starring Orlando Jones and Dominic Purcell, audiences gave "Primeval" a D+. Attended mostly by males, the film was widely panned by all ages and both genders.

MGM's release of "Arthur" may not have generated much boxoffice, but it scored solidly with audiences. From French director Luc Besson, the film received an A- from audiences. Attended 50-50 by males and females, the majority of the audience to this PG-rated movie was younger than 25.

Adding to the weekend's congestion were three films that expanded considerably this weekend. Paramount Pictures expanded its Golden Globe winner "Dreamgirls" to 1,907 theaters, an expansion of 1,055 theaters. The film grossed an additional $10.2 million, but on a three-day to three-day comparison, the film dropped 3.5% from last frame even with the expansion.

Paramount also added 819 theaters to its bow of "Freedom Writers." The Hilary Swank starrer earned an additional $8.8 million, with its cume now at the $20 million mark.

Universal expanded its R-rated Alfonso Cuaron-directed film "Children of Men" to 1,508 theaters. The Clive Owen starrer grossed an additional $7.4 million, putting its total at $22.4 million.

In limited release, Picturehouse added 150 theaters to its release of "Pan's Labyrinth." The Guillermo del Toro-directed film grossed an additional $2.6 million, putting its gross at $4.8 million. Sony Pictures Classics added 1,179 theaters to its release of "Curse of the Golden Flower." The film generated an additional $2.1 million, putting its cume at $4.5 million.