Despite an aggressive marketing campaign and a wide release, FreeStyle Releasing’s CG-laden creature feature Dragon Wars was defeated at the box office by fellow newcomers The Brave One from Warner Bros. and Mr. Woodcock from New Line Cinema. The lackluster weekend saw Brave, a revenge thriller starring Jodie Foster, take the top spot with an estimated $14 million gross.
Having done big business in its native South Korea, director Hyung-rae Shim’s Dragon Wars debuted at No. 4 in the U.S. with around $5.3 million. The film was not screened for critics, which is usually not a good sign, and what buzz there was not particularly kind, save for some compliments on the ambitious visual effects work. It trailed third-place finisher Mr. Woodcock, a Billy Bob Thornton comedy that brought in approximately $9.1 million. Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s western remake 3:10 to Yuma dropped a notch to No. 2 in its sophomore week with an estimated $9.15 million.
Sony/Revolution’s Beatles-inspired musical Across the Universe and Focus Features’ David Cronenberg thriller Eastern Promises were both standouts among the pic debuting in limited release. Universe earned about $685,000 in just 23 theaters to lead the pack. However, Promises earned more per screen, taking in around $553,000 at 15 venues.
Internationally, 20th Century Fox’s The Simpsons Movie raked in $8.2 million in Italy to surpass the recently released Shrek the Third as the country’s biggest toon opener ever. The big-screen expansion of the long-running FOX series has actually been more profitable overseas that it has in the states. The film’s $181 million domestic gross has been eclipsed by a $309 million take from foreign markets.