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Cloverfield Box Office: Year’s First Noteworthy Hit

Cloverfield movieCloverfield: Monster movie is year’s first notable box office hit.
  • Cloverfield box office: Directed by Matt Reeves, the latest Godzilla-inspired horror thriller has become the year’s first noteworthy big-screen success story.
  • In other box office news, the Katherine Heigl romantic comedy 27 Dresses had a modest domestic debut – but, in relation to its equally modest budget, it ended up a solid global hit.

Cloverfield box office: New York City-devouring monster stars in year’s first sleeper hit

Jan. 18–20 weekend box office: A Paramount release, the monster-on-a-rampage movie Cloverfield is the first notable big-screen hit at the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office this year, having grossed $40.1 million from 3,411 theaters as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

An opening around $40 million would be a respectable one for most releases, but it’s especially remarkable for a $25 million production (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses, which may have been amped up for this one).

Perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that Cloverfield has soared past – if one chooses to ignore inflation – the January opening record ($35.9 million) set by the 1997 rerelease of George Lucas’ two-decade-old Star Wars.

Of course, the question now is how well Cloverfield will hold up in the coming weeks. In any case, expect New York City – like Tokyo back in the day – to be redestroyed in the not too distant future.

Cloverfield movie cast & global box office update

Produced by J.J. Abrams (of TV’s Lost) and directed by Matt Reeves from a screenplay credited to Drew Goddard, Cloverfield comes across as Godzilla meets The Host meets Independence Day meets Friday the 13th meets real-life terrorist attacks.

In the mostly little-known cast: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, and Odette Yustman.

Update: Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield ultimately collected $80 million domestically and $92.3 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $172.3 million – making the horror thriller one of 2008’s most impressive sleeper hits, along with Walt Disney Pictures’ fall teen musical High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Summit Entertainment’s fall teen fantasy Twilight.

Cloverfield’s top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($18.8 million), Japan ($11.6 million), and France ($8 million).

27 Dresses Katherine Heigl27 Dresses with Katherine Heigl.

International moviegoers help to make Katherine Heigl romantic comedy 27 Dresses profitable

At no. 2 this past weekend, 20th Century Fox’s 27 Dresses debuted with a barely okay $23 million from 3,057 venues.

Anne Fletcher directed this $30 million romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl as a perennial bridesmaid charged with planning her sister’s wedding; as it happens, the prospective husband is the man (Edward Burns) with whom the bridesmaid has been secretly in love. But is it all for real?

Also in the 27 Dresses cast: Malin Akerman as the sister, James Marsden as a cynical reporter, Judy Greer, and Brian Kerwin. Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) was credited for the screenplay.

Update: The Anne Fletcher-Katherine Heigl collaboration 27 Dresses ultimately collected $76.8 million domestically and $85.8 million internationally, for worldwide total of $162.7 million – that’s about $10 million below the less costly Cloverfield, but still more than enough to make the modestly budgeted romantic comedy profitable.

27 Dresses’ top international markets were Australia ($14.3 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($13.5 million), Germany ($7.4 million), and Spain ($6.5 million).

More box office titles: The Bucket List, Juno & Mad Money

The previous weekend’s top movie, Rob Reiner’s “inspirational” comedy-drama The Bucket List dropped to no. 3 with $14.1 million. Starring Oscar winners Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975; etc.) and Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby, 2004), the critically panned Warner Bros. release lifted its domestic total to a so-so $41.6 million after 27 days (in wide release for 10 days). Budget: $45 million.

At no. 4 with $10 million, Jason Reitman’s sleeper hit Juno has reached $85.1 million after seven weekends. The generally well-regarded no-to-abortion-yes-to-adoption comedy failed to collect any Golden Globes, but its expansion to 2,534 venues two weeks ago has given a major boost to its box office profile. In the cast of this Fox Searchlight release: Likely Best Actress Oscar nominee Ellen Page as the titular pregnant teen, Jennifer Garner as the off-kilter adoptive-mom-to-be, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, and Allison Janney. Budget: $7.5 million.

Lastly, the crime comedy Mad Money debuted at no. 6 with a mere $7.7 million from 2,470 locations. In the cast of this commercial underperformer: Oscar winner Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, 1977), Katie Holmes, Ted Danson, Adam Rothenberg, Christopher McDonald, J.C. MacKenzie, and Best Supporting Actress nominee Queen Latifah (Chicago, 2002). Director: Callie Khouri (Best Original Screenplay winner for Thelma & Louise, 1991).


Cloverfield Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Cloverfield Box Office: Year’s First Noteworthy Hit” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Cloverfield, 27 Dresses, The Bucket List, Juno, Mad Money, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Cloverfield movie image: Paramount Pictures.

Katherine Heigl 27 Dresses movie image: 20th Century Fox.

Cloverfield Box Office: Year’s First Noteworthy Hit” last updated in October 2022.

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