Box Office Hit -Max Payne heals b.o. with $18 mil, Oliver Stone’s W bows at $10.5 million

WahlbergBy Keith Williams

HOLLYWOOD,Calif.(Hollywood Today/RushPRNews) 10/20/08 — Voodoo chants paid off for 20th Century-Fox this weekend as their latest release “Max Payne” broke a long-running spell of flops and disasters by taking an estimated $18 million at 3376 video-game parlors, enough to put it ahead of Bees, Chihuahuas and soon-to-be ex-Presidents for the no 1 slot in the nation’s top ten.

After the debacle of last summer’s The Happening, Mark Wahlberg restores a smidgeon of credibility to his portfolio with an action-fantasy thriller few people outside of video game fanatics seem to have ever heard of. The trailer rings bells of familiarity with Constantine, promoting as it does a smart look with nifty effects and plenty of gunplay. An opener of $18 million for this kind of PG-13 movie is nothing to get over-excited about, but for Fox it must seem like manna from heaven in the wake of implosions such as Meet Dave, Space Chimps and The Rocker.

Buzzing into third place came The Secret Life of Bees, pollinating an estimated $11 million from 1591 hives. Following in the wake of similar entries like The Divine Underpants of the Travelling Whatever, this Oprah Winfrey-style sanctioned genre of chicks-bonding-together over time/space/race/generational gaps seems to attract a dependable crowd, though rumors of ticket-buying wasps lured in by the title are as yet unfounded.

Over in the Oliver Stone corner of the box-office ring, there was no beating around this bush with his presidential bio W raising $10.5 million at 2030 conventions. For Mr Stone, once the enfant terrible of mainstream cinema, this represents a comeback of sorts after the universally derided Alexander and the soppy World Trade Center. Mainly good reviews, apart from those suggesting it should have been retitled Y, oscar talk for Josh Brolin, and a sensible budget could mean healthy returns for a genre not exactly renowned for melting ticket machines

The other “major” new release of the weekend, Sex Drive, was to be found lurking at no 9, having stalled in neutral for a flaccid $3.5 million at 2421 pitstops. Free Viagra at the box-office might have helped, but as College proved not so long ago, familiarity breeds contempt for those foisting flogged-to-death cheapo efforts such as these on an increasingly indifferent audience.

Amongst hold-overs, Beverly Hills Chihuahua having lost its top position to Max Payne continued its puppy-dog love-affair with the public by dropping only 36% to come in second for a haul of $11.2 million (total to date – $69 million), Eagle Eye short-circuited by 32.7% for $7.3 million (total – $81 million), last week’s surprise hit Quarantine plunged an expected 55.7% for $6.3 million ($24.6 million to date) while Body of Lies, last week’s unfortunate big-budget loser lost even more by terrorising a mere $6.8 million out of a 46.6% decline. Sandwiched uncomfortably either side of Sex Drive, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Nights in Rodanthe fell by 39.3% and 41% respectively to grab $3.9 million and $2.6 million en route to the lower depths of the top ten next week.

Weekend Estimates – courtesy boxofficemojo.com