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Weekend box office: Cloudy with a chance of greenbacks

Posted by Ty Burr  September 20, 2009 11:30 PM

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The bizarrely engaging family animation "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" kept the summer's bulgy 3D ball rolling into fall: The weekend's top grosser at $30.1 million, the biggest September animation opening ever, and the biggest push for the 3D format yet. 1,828 theaters, or 60% of the total, showed the film in 3D and picked up the same percentage of the box office. (Interestingly, 8% of ticket sales went to the 2% of the screens showing the film in IMAX; audiences who wanted their "Meatballs" big knew where to go.

Coming in second was "The Informant!" with $10.5 million, not bad considering how tough it is to sell A) a Matt Damon movie that doesn't have the word "Bourne" in the title and B) a nudge-nudge wink-wink business farce. The trailers for "Informant!" did a good job of conveying the very specific vibe of the film, even if they gave away the best gags.

"Love Happens" landed at No. 4 with $8.5 million, about what you'd expect for a movie tailored to appeal mostly to diehard devotees of romantic comedy and Jennifer Aniston. The shock is that more people went to see "Love Happens" than "Jennifer's Body," which wimped out with $6.8 million despite a faceful of heavy-breathing hype. Wha' hoppen? Box Office Mojo blames an advertising campaign that emphasized Megan Fox's assets at the exclusion of all else (plot, laughs, Amanda Seyfried). There's something to that: The horror genre is becoming more and more driven by young female audiences, who'd probably be less interested in Fox as a pin-up and more interested in her "Mean Girls" relationship with Seyfried in the film. But they also want to be scared, and nothing in the come-ons for "Jennifer's Body" said anything remotely scary.

Down in limited-release land, the most notable art-house hit was Jane Campion's "Bright Star," which hauled in an average $10.6K per theater at 19 theaters. A specialty item if ever there were one -- a muted yet impassioned 19th century romance between the doomed young poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and the headstrong Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) -- the movie benefited from excellent reviews and the fact that there are precious few movies for intelligent women (and the men who love them), and most of that demographic had already seen "Julie and Julia." "Bright Star" opens in Boston this Friday; the Oscar talk for Cornish isn't out of hand.

More box office fiddlings from Box Office Mojo and Leonard Klady.

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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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