'Bringing Down The House' Packs 'Em In

From left, Peter Tooley, of Worcester, Ohio, and Billy Rogerson of Duxbury, Mass., sing during a service at the Redeemer Fellowship Church, in Watertown, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009, one of the churches recently opened by Baptist missionaries in New England. The building for the former Congregational church stands across the street from another former church building that has been converted to luxury condominiums.
AP Photo/Josh Reynolds
The Steve Martin/Queen Latifah comedy "Bringing Down The House," brought in nearly $32 million in its debut weekend. It was the third-biggest March opening ever, behind the 2002 releases, "Ice Age" and "Blade 2," and the
strongest opening ever for a Martin film.

"Tears Of The Sun," starring Bruce Willis as a Navy SEAL, opened in second with $17.2 million, while "Old School" kept its third place spot, taking in over $9 million. Early Show Entertainment Contributor Jess Cagle reports.

"Bringing Down the House" follows Latifah as an escaped convict who weasels her way into the affluent suburban home of an uptight attorney played by Martin. Much uproar ensues. The film was panned by critics but drew huge audiences, thanks in part to strong marketing by Disney.

"This is just one of those outrageous comedies where people love to sit back and be entertained and laugh," said Chuck Viane, Disney's head of distribution.

The movie averaged $11,317 per theater. The grim "Tears of the Sun" stars Willis as Lt. A.K. Waters, a Navy SEAL who takes his squad to rescue a doctor (Monica Bellucci) from a war zone in Nigeria. It took in $5,785 per theater playing to audiences that were 61 percent male, said Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios, which produced the movie for distributor

"I don't have to tell you that it's interesting to have a war film out at this time but it appears people really wanted to see it," Sherak said.

"Tears of the Sun" marked a shift from the escapist fare that's dominated the box office in recent weeks, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"You look at the top two movies and they couldn't be more different. For the past few weeks it's been all about escapism at the movies in the top five," Dergarabedian said. "'Tears of the Sun' is decidedly not escapist, but still as an R-rated very intense movie that considering the world situation is pretty timely, $17.2 million is very strong for that film."

Last weekend's No. 2 film "Old School" dropped to No. 3 with $9.2 million, and "Chicago" stayed very strong in its 11th weekend out, taking in $6.9 million for the No. 4 spot.

"'Chicago' just seems unstoppable at this point. It's just the must-see movie of the season," Dergarabedian said.

Overall the weekend's top 12 films grossed $95.4 million, up almost 15 percent from the same weekend last year and up more than 10 percent from last weekend.

The following are the numbers according to

  1. "Bringing Down the House," $31.7 million.
  2. "Tears of the Sun," $17.2 million.
  3. "Old School," $9.2 million.
  4. "Chicago," $6.9 million.
  5. "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," $6.8 million.
  6. "Cradle 2 the Grave," $6.6 million.
  7. "Daredevil," $5.2 million.
  8. "The Jungle Book 2," $4.2 million.
  9. "Shanghai Knights," $2.7 million.
  10. "The Life of David Gale," $2.1 million.