Emotional events. Snowy Antarctic landscapes. Cute critters. Disney was clearly hoping that the Penguin Effect would help boost the box office for their sled-dogs-in-peril family adventure Eight Below. And the gamble paid off, as the film – which also features Paul Walker – topped the charts over the three-day weekend. Taking in more than $25 million, the movie bested crappy parody Date Movie, which also performed better than expected. With $22 million for second place, Date Movie takes the Scary Movie road of throwing in references to every rom-com made since 1989, and bypassed critics in the hopes that the public would go anyway. Looks like Fox was right to hide it.
Bringing up third was The Pink Panther proved to be a triumph of marketing over quality, and surprised industry analysts by keeping a fair chunk of its first week’s business, grabbing another $21 million. Also holding on well with a monkey grip was Curious George, which brought in $15 million for fourth. Meanwhile, Final Destination 3 suffered a much bigger drop, losing 47 percent and scaring up $12.5 million in fifth place.
Harrison Ford couldn’t keep Firewall from sounding more like freefall as it spiralled down to sixth place with $10.3 million. New arrival Freedomland staggered bloody and bruised into seventh place; the race trouble/kidnap drama starring Samuel L Jackson and Julianne Moore had a rough ride with the critics and most audiences were happy to listen to them. It made $7 million. Big Momma’s House 2 continues to linger in the charts like a bad smell, though the bean counters will be happy – it took $5.9 million this weekend and currently hides $62.7 million under Martin Lawrence’s billowing fake skirts. Ninth position went to When A Stranger Calls, which should be able to pay off that phone bill with $5.8 million and a current total of $42 million. Finally, Nanny McPhee used the holiday to magic up $5.1 million for a total of $39 million in the US to date.