Tweens flock to Disney feature

Disney 3-D pic “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” set off tween mania at the weekend box office, scoring the highest Super Bowl weekend gross of all time — $29 million — from only 683 screens, easily sinking previous champ “Titanic.”

Based on the whammo turnout, the Mouse House announced Sunday that it’s extending the pic’s one-week run. By marrying a favorite star who is a phenom among young girls with digital 3-D technology, the studio was able to upend the traditional theatrical release pattern and turn the concert film into an event that moviegoers were willing to pay more for.

Super Bowl weekend is a refuge for female-skewing pics as many men and boys are otherwise occupied, and this year was no exception.

Lionsgate’s Jessica Alba horror pic “The Eye” debuted at a strong $13 million from 2,436 runs to come in No. 2, according to Rentrak. The Lionsgate-Paramount Vantage co-production is rated PG-13.

The weekend’s other two new wide releases, however, remained on the sidelines as holdovers stayed on the field.

Gold Circle’s Eva Longoria Parker starrer “Over Her Dead Body,” distributed by New Line, opened at an estimated $4.6 million from 1,733 locations to place No. 11. Paramount Classics’ nature TV spoof “Strange Wilderness” grossed $3 million from 1,208, coming in at No. 13.

With its per-screen average of $42,460, “Hannah Montana” helped propel the domestic box office to historic heights for Super Bowl weekend, with total ticket sales up more than 37% over the same frame last year, when Sony’s “The Messengers” debuted at $14.7 million, according to Media By Numbers.

Year-to-date, the domestic box office is up 15.4% over 2007 thanks to a record-breaking January and first weekend of February.

“Hannah Montana” smashed several records, including highest opening for a film playing on fewer than 1,000 screens; 20th Century Fox’s “Borat,” which opened at $26.4 million from 837 locations in fall 2006, was the previous record holder. Disney couldn’t have gone wider than it did due to the limited number of digital 3-D screens.

“Titanic” previously held the record for best Super Bowl weekend gross, tallying $25.2 million in its sixth weekend back in 1998. Previous record-holder for best Super Bowl opening was “When a Stranger Calls,” which grossed $21.6 million in 1996.

“Hannah Montana” also posted the best opening for a pure digital 3-D release.

Already a TV and recording star, Miley Cyrus now adds the bigscreen to her resume. Cyrus’ Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana” has been the No. 1 cable show among kids 6-14 for two years. The daughter of country music star Billy Ray Cyrus plays a teen who lives a secret life at night as pop star Hannah Montana.

Miley Cyrus’ sold-out, 70-date concert tour ended Thursday night, the eve of the movie’s opening.

“Here’s a concert that ended Thursday night and everybody could see it on Friday. The beauty of 3-D is that when you are in a theater, every set is like you are in the front row. It’s a better seat than what you’d have in most concert venues. That’s what people coming out of theaters are astounded by,” said Disney president of distribution Chuck Viane.

The majority of digital 3-D screens on which the film is playing are Real D systems. Generally speaking, a ticket for a 3-D film is priced several dollars higher than a regular ticket. That makes 3-D especially attractive to the film biz and theater owners.

Disney has been at the forefront of the 3-D movement, although several other studios are jumping into the game in a major way, including DreamWorks Animation and Fox, where James Cameron is making “Avatar.”

Viane said the decision to extend the “Hannah Montana” run came after conferring with exhibitors on Saturday. He said he’s not sure how much longer the film would play and that the decision would be made on a market-by-market basis. In some cities, it may play two more weeks, in others only one. Movie was produced inhouse at Disney for under $7 million.

Lionsgate prexy of distribution Steve Rothenberg said “The Eye” — the English-language remake of the popular Asian horror film — skewed older than “Hannah Montana,” meaning there was plenty left over. He said 75% of the aud was between the ages of 17 and 29.

As with most PG-13 horror films, the majority of the aud was female, here 55%.

“It performed completely within expectations. We did what we thought we were going to do, and we are hoping for a good hold,” Rothenberg said.

The Fox empire took spots three through five on the box office chart, with Katherine Heigl romantic comedy “27 Dresses” coming in an impressive No. 3 in its third weekend. The Fox 2000-Spyglass Entertainment co-production declined 37% to an estimated $8.4 million from 2,976 runs; cume is $57.1 million.

Fox senior VP of distribution Chris Aronson quipped that “27 Dresses” is “holding better than a corset on a wedding day.”

Fox Searchlight’s quirky dramedy “Juno” came in No. 4 for the weekend, declining 27% to an estimated $7.4 million from 2,475 runs for a boffo cume of $110.3 million in the film’s ninth week.

Fox’s swords-and-sandals spoof “Meet the Spartans” was No. 5 for the frame, declining 61% to an estimated $7.1 million from 2,475 screens. Cume is $28.3 million in its second weekend.

Sylvester Stallone starrer “Rambo” likewise stayed competitive in its second outing at No. 5. The Lionsgate-Weinstein Co. co-production declined 62% to $7 million from 2,764 for a cume of $29.8 million. It’s common to see such steep drops among male-driven titles on Super Bowl weekend.

Warner Bros. crowd-pleaser “The Bucket List” continued to plug away, declining 35% in its seventh frame to $6.8 million from 2,915 runs to hit No. 7. Cume is $67.7 million.

Sony’s Diane Lane thriller “Untraceable” was No. 8 in its second frame, declining 52% to $5.4 million from 2,368 runs; cume is $19.4 million.

Monster movie “Cloverfield” fell to No. 9 in its third outing. For the weekend, the Paramount pic declined 61% to $4.9 million from 3,007 theaters for a healthy cume of $72 million.

Taking the No. 10 spot was Paramount Vantage’s Daniel Day-Lewis starrer “There Will Be Blood,” which declined 2% to $4.8 million from 1,507 runs. Cume is $21.1 million in its sixth week.

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