The box office celebrated the New Year with a bang, with four films producing outstanding business and exceeding the predictions not only of analysts but of the studios themselves. Barking up the right tree was Marley and Me , which not only grossed $24 million over the weekend but passed the $100-million mark in only 11 days. It has now taken in $106.5 million. Bedtime Stories remained in second place with $20.3 million. The nearly three-hour-long The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , which few had thought would become a hit, surprised again by taking in $18.4 million in its second week. Equally surprising was the $14-million take for the Tom Cruise World War II thriller Valkyrie , a movie that many analysts had predicted would flop. There were no new films given wide releases. Of the five films that opened wide last week, only one, The Spirit, has performed poorly. It dropped to 13th place over the weekend with just $3.3 million. Several Oscar-aspiring films also performed spectacularly well in limited release. Defiance , another World War II drama, grossed about $121,000 in its debut at two theaters -- or an average of $60,500 per theater. In its second week, Revolutionary Road took in $979,000 in 38 theaters, or an average of $25,763 per theater. The Wrestler grossed $431,884 in 18 markets, or $23,994 per theater. Last Chance Harvey took in $107,000 from six theaters, for an average of $17,833 per theater. In slightly wider release, Slumdog Millionaire pulled in $4.8 million in 84 theaters -- or $7,843 per theater -- in its eighth week. And Gran Torino grossed $2.8 million in 84 theaters, or $33,571 per theater. Overall, the box-office was up 7.5 percent over the same weekend a year ago.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers 1. Marley & Me, $24.1 million; 2. Bedtime Stories, $20.3 million; 3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , $18.4 million; 4. Valkyrie, $14 million; 5. Yes Man , $13.9 million; 6. Seven Pounds , $10 million; 7. The Tale of Despereaux, $7 million; 8. Doubt , $5 million; 9. The Day the Earth Stood Still, $4.9 million; 10. Slumdog Millionaire, $4.8 million.

05/01/2009