‘The Game Plan’ Sacks ‘The Kingdom,’ Takes Box-Office Prize

'Darjeeling Limited' and 'Lust, Caution' bring in big limited-release sales.

The Box Office Top Five
#1 “The Game Plan” ($22.7 million)
#2 “The Kingdom” ($17.6 million)
#3 “Resident Evil: Extinction” ($8 million)
#4 “Good Luck Chuck” ($6.3 million)
#5 “3:10 to Yuma” ($4.2 million)

It’s with perhaps a hint of irony that last weekend, the country’s most successful “Game Plan” wasn’t drawn up by Tony Dungy or Mike Shanahan, but by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose family flick scored more often this weekend than LT. The story of a pro quarterback who suddenly discovers he has a daughter on the eve of the NFL playoffs, “The Game Plan” opened with $22.7 million and a first-place finish at the domestic box office.

Well, look, it wasn’t exactly a Hail Mary pass. Even though none of the Rock’s solo efforts had previously opened north of $20 million (save “The Scorpion King,” itself a prequel to the successful “Mummy” franchise), “The Game Plan” combined the action-oriented former wrestler with yet another precocious Disney Channel starlet, making it more likely to succeed than Manning to Harrison. Forget “four yards and a cloud of dust”; winning is sometimes as easy as being the only family film around. (Now just get busy playing Black Adam.)

Where there’s a Rock, of course, there’s almost always also a “hard place,” and none come harder right now than the Middle East. Check that — no place is harder than second, especially when you have the high expectations that come with being Jamie Foxx. Starring Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Chris Cooper, the politically tinged “The Kingdom” opened at number two with $17.6 million.

But with bullets flying, only one film got clearly struck. After winning last weekend’s box-office derby in convincing fashion, the zombie thriller “Resident Evil: Extinction,” fell like a bullet to the head (which, as everyone knows, is the only way to kill the living dead), dropping a staggering 66 percent to come in third place with just $8 million.

Rounding out the top five were superheroes Jessica Alba, whose “Good Luck Chuck” shadowboxes invisibility with a fourth place finish of $6.3 million, and Christian Bale, whose “3:10 to Yuma” continues to show it’s no Joker.

But as in recent weeks, the story continues to be small films which open powerfully in limited release. This time it was Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” which finished with $140,000 from only two theaters, for a per-theater average of $70,000. (“The Game Plan,” by way of contrast, made $7,300 per theater.) Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution,” meanwhile, made $61,700 from one theater. Both will expand in the coming weeks.

How’d We Do?
The NFL has Peter King and Dr. Z. But when we want predictions and analysis here at MTV, we call upon our movie insiders Larry Carroll and Josh Horowitz. Sometimes they even get something right. We joke, because we know that predicting exactly how much money a movie will make is even harder than guessing the score of a football game — but Josh did just that this weekend (see “The Rock Could Conquer ‘The Kingdom,’ In Projection Booth ). His guess of “The Game Plan” at $22 million was right on the money. With the win he goes up by one on Larry.

Prognosticator (Weeks Won)

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor (4)
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer (3)
Celebrity guest (1)

Next Week
Is it the next “Harry Potter”? Not according to some fans who’ve let their displeasure with certain story liberties be known on our blog, but “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” can still be like the Boy Who Lived by crushing the box office next weekend when it opens in 3,200 theaters. Also opening are “The Heartbreak Kid,” starring Ben Stiller; “Michael Clayton,” starring George Clooney; and “Finishing the Game.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Game Plan,” “The Kingdom” and “The Darjeeling Limited.”

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