'Vendetta' Takes Revenge on Weekend Box Office


America has embraced a masked, building-bashing anarchist, propelling "V for Vendetta" to the top of the weekend box office for the three-day period ending Sunday, March 19, 2006.

Over the frame, "Vendetta," based on the comic by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, took in an estimated $26.14 million. Those figures were easily enough to best the competition and they were in line with the low side of estimates for the drama, which stars Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving and was produced by Joel Silver and "The Matrix" brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski.

Fueled by largely positive reviews -- negative notices tended to harp on that whole "sympathetic terrorist" angle of the plot -- "Vendetta" averaged $7,767 per screen, the best of any film in the Top 12, playing in 3365 locations.

"Vendetta" stuck a knife in the box office reign of "Failure to Launch," which dropped a spot in its second weekend. The critically panned comedy, which stars Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker (as well as Terry Bradshaw and Kathy Bates as an unlikely married couple), fell a reasonable 35 percent to $15.8 million. With a $5,074 per-screen-average, "Launch" is holding up nicely with a cumulative take of nearly $48.5 million.

A well as "Launch" is holding, it doesn't compare to the Tim Allen update of "The Shaggy Dog." With nothing new in theaters for families, the man-dog comedy fell only 16 percent to $11 million, with nearly $35.9 million and counting for its total. "Dog" was able to fight off the weekend's other new release, Amanda Bynes' "Twelfth Night" update "She's the Man." In its first weekend, the comedy did a respectable $11 million, playing on 2623 screens for a $4,198 average.

Even with the solid "Vendetta" opening, the Top 12 films at the box office did $93.8 million for the weekend, down nearly 11 percent from the comparable frame last year, when the $35 million opening for "The Ring 2" propelled the Top 12 to $105.3 million.

Beyond the four films that passed the $10 million mark, overall receipts were fairly lackluster. In its second weekend, "The Hills Have Eyes" was off 49 percent to take fifth place with $8.05 million and $28.8 million total for the horror remake. After "Hills," there was a large drop to sixth place "16 Blocks" ($4.74 million) and "Eight Below( $4.19 million) in seventh.

Also making the Top 12 were "Madea's Family Reunion" ($3 million), "The Pink Panther" ($2.5 million), "Aquamarine" ($2.025 million), "Ultraviolet" ($1.4 million) and "Date Movie" ($1.325 million).

Playing in only 439 theaters, the Vin Diesel vehicle "Find Me Guilty" made nary a ripple, as the legal dramedy averaged only $1,431 per screen for a total of $628,000.

Playing in limited release, Jason Reitman's comedy "Thank You For Smoking" did a whopping $52,000-plus per screen, playing in only five locations. The festival favorite got its platform release off to a good start with $260,066. Also delivering decent returns in the limited market was Wim Wenders' "Don't Come Knocking," which averaged $5,921 per screen in six locations.

Next weekend, "Vendetta" will be challenged by "The Inside Man" and "Stay Alive."

All estimates come courtesy of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks daily box office receipts.

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