After a long and troubled production, Warner Bros.' Where the Wild Things Are found its supper waiting, and it was hot to the tune of $32.5 million, according to early estimates by Hollywood.com Box Office. The movie was easily the best debut for acclaimed director Spike Jonze, whose two previous films, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, ended their domestic runs at $22.9 million and $22.5 million, respectively. All eyes will be watching to see how much Wild Things, with its reported $80 million budget, drops next weekend. The film earned a relatively solid "B+" grade from CinemaScore moviegoers, but some families may be staying away as the movie jumped only 2 percent from Friday to Saturday.
The violent thriller Law Abiding Citizen, starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler, attracted an adult audience and captured second place with $21.3 million. Right behind it was the box-office phenomenon of the season, Paranormal Activity, which scared up $20.2 million from a mere 760 theaters. The cult horror film, which Paramount brilliantly marketed by asking internet users to "demand" the movie to come to their town, grossed a spooky $26,530 per screen. That's all the more impressive considering Paranormal Activity was produced on a budget of $11,000. The movie is expected to reach 1,800 theaters next weekend.
Fourth place went to the Vince Vaughn comedy Couples Retreat, which dropped a respectable 48 percent for a $17.9 million weekend. The thriller The Stepfather (2009), a remake of the 1987 original, debuted in fifth place with $12.3 million. In limited release, Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man expanded to 82 theaters and grossed $860,257 for a hearty $10,491 per-screen average. And New York, I Love You, a collection of short films dedicated to the city, debuted with a decent $372,000 from 119 theaters. One wonders how many Gotham-loving moviegoers skipped the film to watch the Yankees play postseason baseball instead.
Overall, the weekend was up 41 percent from the same frame last year, when Max Payne opened to $17.6 million.