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Weekend box office: monster "Monsters"

Posted by Ty Burr  March 30, 2009 10:09 AM

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What happens when you hype the living protoplasm out of a movie, then put it on 7,600 screens at 4,100 theaters? Why, you make a lot of money. "Monsters vs. Aliens" pulled in $58 million over the weekend, which, while mighty impressive, still comes with a caveat or two. While it's the 11th strongest-opening computer-animated movie ever, the grosses were inflated by DreamWorks huge push into 3D, for which theaters could charge more per ticket. 3D prints of "Monsters" went up on 2,000 screens and grossed $32.6 million -- that's 56 percent of the total take in 26 percent of the theaters. So all those reviews (like mine) that said see this movie in 3D or not at all may have sunk in.

Coming in second was "The Haunting in Connecticut," with a $23 million tally that probably returns its entire budget. The lesson here is the opposite of "Monsters vs. Aliens": You don't need a ton of hype, a 3D push, or even a good movie to make a first-week killing. All you need is a TV campaign and the word "Haunting" in the title; out come the teenage girls. You could show hand-shadow puppets and you'd still gross $20 mill.

The John Cena action film "12 Rounds" stiffed, with $5 million and a paltry $2,200 per-theater-average -- young men were probably taking their dates to "Haunting" while older guys were schlepping their kids to "Monsters." Last week's debuts, "Knowing" and "I Love You, Man" held water pretty well, slipping only 40 and 29 percent respectively. "Knowing" is finding pockets of support among a few critics (okay, make that one critic) and with audiences pre-disposed to millennial provocation and willing to overlook Nic Cage at his most sedulous. "Watchmen" is losing air faster than a ruptured tire, though; down another two-thirds from the week before and pulling in less than $3 million over the weekend. This thing is played; expect to see it on DVD by, oh, end of week.

More numbers on the Box Office Mojo chart and from Leonard Klady at Movie City News.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.

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