Horror-comedies don’t always have the best track record at the box office—audiences generally like to keep these particular genres segregated—but Zombieland proved a whopping exception this weekend, opening in first place with a $25 million haul. One could attribute the film’s success to its irreverent take on the zombie apocalypse; we’re going to call it “the Jesse Eisenberg Bump.” The 3-D reissues of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 didn’t perform well enough to keep up with Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs in its third week, but $12.5 million was good enough for third and not bad for a pair of movies that everyone’s seen already. Opening to considerably more humbling numbers: The Invention Of Lying, Ricky Gervais’ latest attempt to wed his caustic, subversive, mercilessly self-deprecating persona to Hollywood, opened in fourth place with $7.4 million while Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, the roller derby romp Whip It, bowed to a dismal $4.9 million. (Theory: Barrymore’s film was victimized by a failure of marketing. Rather than slowly rolling it out and build on good word of mouth—as it did with star Ellen Page’s breakthrough comedy Juno—Fox Searchlight released it wide, thus squandering the potential of an accessible, commercial movie that has received mostly solid notices.)
In limited release, the Coen Brothers opened strong with A Serious Man, collecting $42,000 per screen on six screens; it remains to be seen whether this excellent but strange and narrowly appealing comedy will hold up as it rolls out to more cities. Also doing well: More Than A Game, a profile of LeBron James’ high-school basketball team, brought in $14,000 per screen on 14 screens, which is exceedingly strong for a documentary. Clearly, James’ cross-country media blitz is paying some dividends, even if the film’s overall take ($197,000) barely exceeds his salary for a single regular-season game.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.