Beating most forecasters’ expectations, J.J. Abrams’ nostalgia-tinged sci-fi/thriller Super 8 opened solidly in first place over the weekend, with $38 million. It may be the most heartening success of the year—not simply because it’s good (though we enjoyed it) or because it’s not anchored by big stars, but because it proved that blockbusters can be promoted without giving everything away up front. Turns out that audiences sometimes like to be left with questions that the movie itself will answer, and all that was needed of Super 8’s promos and trailers is the suggestion of something special happening. Given this strategy also worked for Cloverfield, another J.J. Abrams production, it might give confidence to studios willing to withhold information as a way to entice the masses. Of course, it’s likely no strategy could have helped poor Judy Moody And The Not Bummer Summer, which bowed all the way back in seventh place with $6.3 million, a mere pretender to the Wimpy Kid throne.
In limited release, the Steve Coogan-Rob Brydon road comedy The Trip was a sizeable hit, despite being condensed from British television. Riding good reviews—and two first-rate Michael Caine impersonations—the film took $14,100 per screen on six screens, second only to The Tree Of Life’s $18,617 per screen average. The other two reported indies, Bride Flight and Viva Riva!, both from Music Box Films, opened anemically, with $3,028 and $3,433 per screen, respectively.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.