Plucky Miley Cyrus had a lot to shout about this weekend. The 16-year-old’s first scripted film, "Hannah Montana the Movie," debuted with an estimated $34 million, placing it at No. 1 ahead of the film everyone assumed would be the winner, "Fast & Furious," which dropped a steep 59 percent from last week.
This was another week in which the film industry had cause for celebration. Paul Dergarabedian of Media By Numbers reported that the weekend’s $130.2 million represented the biggest Easter box office ever. Reuters reported that Cyrus thanked her fans in a heartfelt tweet, "Omgomg! my fans rock! the movie is doing great you guys!"
Not only did "Hannah" outdo Cyrus’ 2008 concert documentary "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour," which grossed $31.1 million its opening weekend, "Hannah" secured a place in history as the second biggest debut on Easter weekend. "Scary Movie 4" is still No. 1 on that list — it made $40 million in 2006.
The film’s take is also the second biggest opening for a G-rated film, right behind $42 million that "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" garnered in October.
"Hannah" benefited from a huge bump on Friday. Her young fans, out of school for Good Friday, fed $17 million into "Hannah’s" coffers on its opening day.
"It was just an onslaught of the fan base," said Chuck Viane, Disney president of distribution. "Just crazy good."
"Sixty percent of our audience was 17 and under," Viane noted. "So, 40 percent over 17 seems like a lot. The average would be one parent with a young kid."
Meanwhile, "Fast" — which shocked the industry when it revved up $72 million last weekend — fell precipitously into No. 2 with $28.7 million. "Monsters vs. Aliens" followed with $22.6 million — a 31 percent drop from the 3D animated film’s previous weekend.
New box-office entrant Warner’s "Observe and Report" came in fourth with $11 million, and Summit’s "Knowing" rounded out the top five with $6.6 million. The other new debut, Fox’s "Dragonball Evolution" snuck into the No. 8 spot with $4.6 million.
Chris Aronson, Fox senior vice president and general sales manager, wasn’t surprised that "Fast" has such a quick drop. These days, films such as "Fast" and "Monsters" open with extraordinary numbers, but fall sharply in subsequent weeks.
"The bigger you open, the harder you fall," he said. "That’s the nature of our business now. There’s no getting around it. [‘Fast’] is still doing great business overseas and it’s going to continue to do huge numbers here, far more than had they opened in June as originally planned."
Viane agreed that more movies are opening big, but falling sharply in their subsequent weeks. "’Fast & Furious,’ like ‘Hannah,’ was tied to a fanbase of people who loved the original, and they have to get out there the first weekend. I think 55 percent is right where people thought it would be, so they’re not that far out of line."