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Entertainment – “Cloudy” again leads struggling box office

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The family cartoon “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” led the North American box office for a second weekend on Sunday while another slew of newcomers bombed amid crippling reviews and moviegoer apathy.
“Cloudy,” a 3D animated feature based on a popular children’s book, earned $24.6 million during the three days beginning Friday. The 10-day haul for the Columbia Pictures release stands at $60 million.

The film lost just 19 percent of its audience, dashing Bruce Willis’ hopes of taking the top spot with his new robot thriller “Surrogates,” which earned $15 million. The standard drop for films is about 50 percent.

Columbia, a unit of Sony Corp, said the audience for “Cloudy” broadened to teens from young children and their parents. The film is based on the 1978 book by Judi and Ron Barrett, in which a nerdy outcast invents a device that sends hamburgers, pizzas and pancakes dropping from the heavens.

Some industry pundits had expected “Surrogates” to open near $20 million but the film’s distributor said the opening was within its broad expectations.

“We would love to have more but this is the reality of the weekend,” said Chuck Viane, president of domestic theatrical distribution at Walt Disney Co.

The opening is decent by Willis’ modest standards this decade. His last major release, the 2007 “Die Hard” sequel, opened to $33 million but many other films — such as “Perfect Stranger,” “16 Blocks” and “Hostage” — did not even open in the teen millions.

Disney said the film received poor ratings from moviegoers, in line with the rotten reviews. It marks Disney’s first release since studio chief Dick Cook was ousted on September 18 after a poor run at the box office.

“Fame,” a family-friendly remake of the 1980 musical, opened at No. 3 with $10 million. The film is the first release of the year from Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Inc., which had hoped for an opening in the $15 million range.

The struggling, closely held studio said “Cloudy” co-opted its core audience of young girls and their mothers. The $18 million film also received low marks from moviegoers and critics.

The Dennis Quaid sci-fi film “Pandorum” did even worse, opening at No. 6 with $4.8 million. Industry observers had expected an opening in the high-single-digits for the Overture Films release.

The studio, a unit of Liberty Media Corp, said its “total investment” in the $40 million production was well under $10 million as it paid only for North American rights.

Overture did better with the new Michael Moore movie “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which earned $240,000 from two theaters

each in New York and Los Angeles. The tragicomic indictment of the financial system expands nationally next Friday.

The sub-par performance of the wide new releases come a week after another bunch of newcomers — “The Informant!,” “Love Happens” and “Jennifer’s Body” — all suffered disappointing openings. Their respective totals stand at $21 million, $14.7 million and $12.3 million.

Early fall is traditionally a quiet time at the box office as the studios quietly clear out their weaklings while laying the groundwork for their awards-season hopefuls.

(Editing by Bill Trott

September 28, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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