Since "Debaters" opened on just 1,164 screens, $3.6 million isn't too shabby for a period drama. ("Water Horse" opened on 2,772, by contrast.) We'll see if more people buy tickets during the coming week.
National box office was up 34 percent from last year, according to the Associated Press. You can read the whole chart here at Box Office Mojo.
My gut feeling is that "The Great Debaters" is going to need a bigger marketing push to get it seen by a larger audience. A Golden Globe nomination helps its cause, but as a mag editor told me a couple weeks ago, "It has an unfortunate title." "Debaters" doesn't exactly scream holiday movie-going escapism.
Did you see "The Great Debaters" this weekend, by the way? Speak.
P.S. Competition for "The Great Debaters" is fierce right now. "I Am Legend," "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "National Treasure" will continue to command the bulk of the business.
I went to a 6:20 screening of "I Am Legend" last night and it was about two-thirds full. It was one of the most bizarre audiences I've witnessed.
Protective Will Smith opens gun closet = kids cheering.
Lonely Will Smith talks to mannequins = kids texting to lonely virtual friends.
Resourceful Will Smith accidentally impales leg with pocket knife = adults laughing.
Audience puzzling Alex = Alex disliking movie.