"Cloverfield" a monster at box office

Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:05pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Cloverfield," a low-budget Godzilla-style horror movie, scared up a monstrous $41 million opening at the weekend box office in North America, almost twice the tally of the new romance "27 Dresses."

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "27 Dresses" opened at No. 2 with $22.4 million, while last weekend's champ "The Bucket List" fell to No. 3 with almost $15.2 million. The top-10 contained one other new release, "Mad Money," which opened at No. 7 with just $7.7 million.

"Cloverfield," a $25 million movie with a no-name cast from Paramount Pictures, set a record for a January release, surpassing the $35.9 million reissue of "Star Wars" in 1997.

It will also set a record for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. "Black Hawk Down" earned $33.6 million during the four-day period in 2002. Paramount said its movie will earn more than $47 million after the Monday holiday is included.

Box office observers had expected "Cloverfield" to open in the $20 million range for the three-day period, a little ahead of "27 Dresses." They largely discounted Paramount's unusual forecast last week that the order would be reversed.

While the two movies appeared to target completely different audiences delineated by gender, the positively-reviewed "Cloverfield" played more broadly than expected.

Paramount said men comprised 60 percent of the audience, and 55 percent of moviegoers were aged under 25. The audience for "27 Dresses" was three-quarters female, Fox said.


<p>Actress Jennifer Morrison attends the premiere of "Cloverfield" in Los Angeles January 16, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>