Three new releases divided the spoils at the NorthAmerican box office this weekend, and in the end it was Sony's teen horrorouting The Covenant that managed to top the chart with a relativelymodest $9m gross.
Focus Features' Hollywoodland opened in secondplace with an estimated $6m and The Weinstein Company's The Protectorcame in fourth with an estimated $5m. The new releases pushed Buena Vista's Invincible,chart leader for the past two weeks, into third place.
Produced by Sony and Lakeshore Entertainment andreleased under the Screen Gems label, The Covenant took its estimated$9m from 2,681 theatres, for a per-theatre average of $3,356. The PG-13 ratedchiller is directed by Renny Harlin and stars newcomers Steven Strait,Sebastian Stan and Toby Hemingway as prep schoolers with mysterious powers.Critics were dismissive, but the film just about performed up to expectationsin the traditionally quiet weekend after the US Labor Day holiday.
Hollywoodland, from Focus Features andMiramax Films, managed its $6m from 1,548 theatres, for a $3,881 average. TheR-rated neo-noir mystery about the death of TV Superman George Reeves stars BenAffleck, Diane Lane and Adrien Brody and is directed by Allen Coulter.
Though reviews were generally favourable, the filmcame in slightly below expectations. This time last year, Focus opened TheConstant Gardener on a similar number of screens and managed an openingweekend gross of $8.6m.
After two weeks at the top, sports drama Invincibleadded theatres but dropped off by 52% for an estimated $5.8m from 2,987(average - $1,936).
R-rated martial arts movie The Protector --known as Tom-yum-goong in its native Thailand, where it was produced anddist by Sahamongkolfilm - hit its mark with an estimated $5m from 1,541 screens(average - $3,265).
Starring Tony Jaa and directed by Prachya Pinkaew,both of Ong Bak: Thai Warrior fame, the film was acquired for the US bythe Weinstein Company and marketed under the 'Quentin Tarantino presents'banner that previously worked well for the company's Hero. Reviews weremixed.
At number five in the chart, last week's new openerCrank, from Lionsgate, dropped by more than 54% to gross an estimated$4.8m from 2,515 screens (average - $1,908).
Warner Bros' The Wicker Man, last week's othernew release, came in eighth, diving by more than 65% to gross $4.1m from 2,784screens (average - $1,472).
The two prestige pictures that stood out in the topten last week slipped a little this week. Yari Film Group's The Illusionistadded screens in its fourth week but grossed $4.6m (down 25% from last week)from 1,362, for a $3,406 average. And Fox Searchlight's Little Miss Sunshinegrossed $4.4m (down 42%) in its seventh week from 1,560 screens, for a $2,836average.
Next weekend's wide releases are: Universal's noir crime drama The BlackDahlia, with Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson starring and Brian DePalma directing; Fox's animated baseball tale Everyone's Hero, featuringthe voices of Whoopi Goldberg and William H Macy; Sony's sports drama GridironGang, with The Rock; and DreamWorks' romantic comedy The Last Kiss,which pairs Zack Braff with Jacinda Barrett.
Estimated Top Ten North America Sept 8-10, 2006
Film (Distributor)/Internationaldistribution/Estimated weekend
gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) The Covenant (Screen Gems) SPRI$9m -
2 (-) Hollywoodland (Focus) Miramax/BVI $6m-
3 (1) Invincible (Buena Vista) BVI $5.8m$45.7m
4 (-) The Protector (TWC) TF1 Intl $5m -
5 (2) Crank (Lionsgate) Lionsgate/Lakeshore$4.8m $19.9m
6 (5) The Illusionist (Yari Film Group)Syndicate $4.6m $18.1m
7 (4) Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)Fox Int'l $4.4m $41.6m
8 (3) The Wicker Man (Warner Bros)Millennium/Nu Image $4.1m $17.5m
9 (6) Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of RickyBobby (Sony) SPRI $3m $142.2m
10 (7) Barnyard: The Original Party Animals (Paramount)UIP $2.6m $66.9m