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'Extraordinary Measures' plays like 'The Blind Side,' without the success

January 24, 2010 |  1:00 pm

Extra2 "Extraordinary Measures" looked a lot like "The Blind Side" at the box office this weekend. Except it made a lot less money.

Just like the Sandra Bullock box-office phenomenon, CBS Films' first release played best in small towns in the Southeast, Midwest and Mountain states, drew crowds that tilted heavily older and female, and got positive reactions from those who attended on opening day (in this case, an average grade of A-minus, according to market research firm CinemaScore).

That gives the media company best known for its broadcast network good reason to believe that "Extraordinary Measures," an inspirational drama starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, will show excellent staying power in the coming weeks. "The Blind Side," after all, has grossed more than six times its $34.1-million opening take and is still chugging along with a studio-estimated $4.5 million on its eleventh weekend.

It would take a "Blind Side"-caliber run, however, for "Extraordinary Measures" to recover from an anemic $7-million debut. That's weak for a movie that cost $31 million to produce, particularly because it was given a huge marketing push by CBS on its television network and outdoor billboards.

It wasn't the only disappointment this weekend, though it was the biggest. 20th Century Fox and Walden Media's family comedy "The Tooth Fairy" opened to $14.5 million. That's a soft showing given the movie's $48-million budget and well below the debuts of the last two family comedies starring Dwayne Johnson, "Race to Witch Mountain" and "The Game Plan." Both those movies were for Walt Disney Studios, however, giving Fox and Walden the bad luck of Johnson's weakest performer in the genre.

Legion Sony Pictures had the one solidly performing new picture this weekend, as the post-apocalyptic thriller "Legion," from its genre label Screen Gems, opened to $18 million. It cost about $25 million to produce.

"Avatar" grossed an additional $107 million overseas, combined with $36 million in the U.S. and Canada, bringing its worldwide total to $1.841 billion. It's just $2 million away from passing the $1.843-billion worldwide gross record set by "Titanic" in 1998, a mark it will easily pass Monday. Of course, with 12 years of ticket price inflation and surcharges on the vast majority of screens where most moviegoers are seeing the new film in 3-D, "Avatar" still lags far behind in attendance.

Declines were 25% or less in every major market around the world except China, where "Avatar" ticket sales fell 34% after the government unexpectedly yanked it off of every 2-D screen where it was playing this week.

Here are the top 10 movies in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "Avatar" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $36 million on its sixth weekend, down 16%. $107 million overseas in 111 markets. Domestic total: $552.8 million. Overseas total: $1.288 billion.

2. "Legion" (Sony Screen Gems): Opened to $18.2 million.

3. "The Book of Eli" (Warner Bros./Alcon): $17 million, down 48% on its second weekend. Domestic total: $62 million.

4. "The Tooth Fairy" (Fox/Walden): $14.5-million opening.

5. "The Lovely Bones" (Paramount): $8.8 million on its second weekend of wide release, down 48%. Domestic total: $31.6 million.

6. "Sherlock Holmes" (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): $7.1 million on its fifth weekend, down 28%. $17.1 million in 55 territories overseas. Domestic total: $191.6 million. Foreign total: $196.5 million.

7. "Extraordinary Measures" (CBS): $7-million opening.

8. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" (Fox/New Regency): $6.5 million on its fifth weekend, down 44%. Domestic total: $204.2 million. International total: $175 million.

9. "It's Complicated" (Universal/Relativity): $6.2 million on its fifth weekend, down 24%. $10.5 million overseas in 32 territories. Domestic total: $98.6 million. International total: $50.5 million.

10. "The Spy Next Door" (Lionsgate/Relativity): $4.8 million on its second weekend, down 51%. Domestic total: $18.7 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. Credit: CBS Films.

Bottom photo: Paul Bettany and Adrianne Palicki in "Legion." Credit: Lewis Jacobs / Sony Screen Gems.

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