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'Zomcom' Rules Box Office

'Meatballs,' 'Toy Story' Both Strong

Published: 10/04/2009, Last Updated: 10/05/2009 08:13am

Zombies may be dead and decaying, but the horror subgenre that deals with the undead is very much alive and kicking keister at the box office.  Sony’s horror comedy Zombieland, which stars Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, topped the weekend box office with an estimated total of $25 million. 


Sony took the second spot as well with Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs dropping just 33% in its third weekend.  Meatballs edged out Disney/Pixar’s limited two-week run of a double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D, which finished in third place.  Ricky Gervais’ comedy The Invention of Lying debuted at #4, while the comic book-based Surrogates dropped 50% to an estimated $7.3 million and ended up in fifth.  Overall the total box office for the weekend was down just 1% from the same frame last year.

Weekend Box Office (Studio Estimates): October 2-4, 2009



Weekend Gross









Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs





Toy Story / Toy Story 2 (3D)





The Invention of Lying










Capitalism: A Love Story





Whip It










The Informant!





Love Happens





With excellent reviews (89% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), a killer trailer, and strong word-of-mouth Zombieland outpaced expectations.  Its audience was 56% male and 58% under 25.  Filmgoers gave the movie a strong “A-“ CinemScore, which indicates that Zombieland, which cost under $25 million to produce, should have a very profitable month of October.  With its testosterone-fueled dialog (“Nut up or shut up”), amped-up zombies, and wall-to-wall gore, this “Zomedy” (or “Zomcom,” take your pick) has the kind of cult hit potential that should insure a strong run on DVD as well as at the box office.


Sony’s other current release, the CGI animated feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, continued its strong performance despite competition for its target audience from the Pixar Toy Story 3D Double Feature.  Meatballs, which has already earned over $82 million, will be the next 2009 film to cross the $100 million barrier.


Despite earning only $12.5 million versus Meatballs’ $ 16.7 million, the Toy Story 3-D Double Feature is hardly a failure.  Because of its length (it includes the first two Toy Story films plus an extended preview of next summer’s Toy Story 3) some theaters could only mount three shows per day.  Nevertheless, this double feature of two films that have been available on DVD for years earned an average of $7,163 per screen, which is better than Meatballs’ $5,610 and just a shade Zombieland’s $8,235.


Disney’s adaptation of the Top Shelf graphic novel Surrogates suffered a lower-than-typical second weekend decline for a science fiction film of just 50%, and the film is doing all right overseas.  But it appears now that if the $80 million film is ever going to be profitable, it will have to do very well on DVD.


Michael Moore’s documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, was tied for sixth with an estimated $4.85 million, a better performance than 2007’s Sicko ($3.6 million), but well under his high water mark, Fahrenheit 9/11, which opened with $23.9 million in the heat of the 2004 political campaign.  This weekend's other new film, Drew Barrymore’s roller-derby film Whip It, tied with Moore’s Capitalism, a result that undoubtedly disappointed the backers of both films.

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