March 3, 2009 / 7:30 AM / in 8 years

Jonas Brothers hit flat note at box office

<p>Nick Jonas (L), Joe Jonas and Kevin Jonas pose for photographs during the promotion of Walt Disney Pictures' "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" in Los Angeles February 9, 2009.Phil McCarten</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Teen idols the Jonas Brothers got beaten up by a pistol-packing granny at the weekend box office in North America, failing to live up to the hype generated by their concert movie.

"Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" came in at No. 2 with estimated three-day sales of $12.7 million, distributor Walt Disney Co said on Sunday. The studio had hoped for $15 million, which itself paled against wild industry forecasts that reached as high as $25 million.

The film's core audience of screaming young girls was evidently outnumbered by the older black women who ensured that "Madea Goes to Jail" logged a second term at No. 1.

The comedy about a tough-talking old lady earned $16.5 million, taking its 10-day total to $64.9 million. The Lionsgate release has already become the biggest of the six movies prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry has released since February 2005. Perry, 39, dons drag to play Madea, a character featured in many of his critic-proof films and plays.

Lionsgate is a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, in which activist investor Carl Icahn recently disclosed that he had taken a 14.3 percent stake.

Meanwhile, "Slumdog Millionaire" jumped two places to a new high of No. 3, on the heels of its eight Oscar wins last Sunday. The Mumbai-set romantic drama earned $12.2 million, the biggest haul for a best-picture winner in at least 10 years, said News Corp-owned distributor Fox Searchlight.

The three-day haul represented a 45 percent increase over last weekend's sales, thanks in part to a boost in the theater count by almost a third. British director Danny Boyle's film has earned $115.1 million after 16 weekends.

MILEY VS. JONAS

The disappointing No. 2 start for "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" is a rare setback for the fresh-faced siblings -- Kevin, 21, Joe, 19 and Nick, 16.

The best yardstick was Disney's hugely popular concert film "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds," which opened to $31.1 million a year ago, and ended up with $65.3 million.

But the earlier film was originally scheduled to be a one-week-only engagement, which stoked feverish demand. On the other hand, "Hannah Montana" opened in 683 theaters, while "Jonas Brothers" was playing in 1,271 outlets. Cyrus is arguably a bigger act, with her own Disney Channel TV show. The Jonas Brothers' own show will not premiere on the cable network until the summer.

Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said he was not disappointed with the debut, suggesting that some of the more bullish forecasts were unrealistic. With the average 3D theater auditorium holding just 240 people, attendance was "very, very good," he said.

Overall ticket sales rose for the fourth consecutive weekend, and for the ninth time in 10 weekends. The populist offerings are providing recession-weary moviegoers with some modestly priced escapism, studio executives said.

Tracking firm Media by Numbers said revenues are up 17 percent at $1.8 billion so far this year, while the number of tickets sold is up 15 percent.

One of the biggest surprises of the year is the Liam Neeson thriller "Taken," which earned $10 million in its fifth weekend, rising one place to No. 4. Its tally stands at $108 million, giving the Irish actor his biggest headlining role. The movie, released by News Corp's Twentieth Century Fox, was produced and financed by French filmmaker Luc Besson.

Another female-driven movie, "He's Just Not That Into You," swapped places with "Taken," earning $5.9 million. The total for Warner Bros. Pictures' ensemble romance stands at $78.5 million after four weekends. The studio is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

Twentieth Century Fox had less success with the only other new entry in the top 10. "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li" opened at No. 8 with $4.7 million. But the studio said it was distributing the film for a fee on behalf of closely held producer Hyde Park, and was happy with the debut.

Editing by Jackie Frank

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