'Hannah Montana' fills movie theaters, too

Miley Cyrus and her "Hannah Montana" character have been a hit on TV, in concert and, now, on the big screen.
Miley Cyrus and her "Hannah Montana" character have been a hit on TV, in concert and, now, on the big screen.

First, she sells out a nationwide concert tour. Now, Miley Cyrus and pop-star alter-ego Hannah Montana are selling out movie theaters in such record-breaking style that the film's run has been extended.

"Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert," the 3-D film chronicling her recent tour, was the biggest debut ever over Super Bowl weekend, pulling in $29 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC.

  1. "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert," $29 million.
  2. "The Eye," $13 million.
  3. "27 Dresses," $8.4 million.
  4. " Juno ," $7.5 million.
  5. "Meet the Spartans," $7.1 million.
  6. "Rambo," $7 million.
  7. " The Bucket List ," $6.9 million.
  8. "Untraceable," $5.4 million.
  9. " Cloverfield ," $4.9 million.
  10. "There Will Be Blood ," $4.8 million.

Distributor Disney planned to have the movie out for only a week but now has decided to keep it in theaters until it runs its course.

The concert film -- featuring 15-year-old Cyrus both as herself backstage and as her Disney Channel character, pop sensation Hannah -- filled the void for fans unable to catch one of the live shows on the Hannah Montana 54-date tour.

The digital 3-D technology also gave fans the illusion of practically being at a live show, said Mark Zoradi, president of Disney's motion-picture group, who visited several packed theaters where the movie played over the weekend.

"The screaming level was unbelievable. It almost plays like a concert. At the end of a song, you have audiences clapping like you do at a concert," Zoradi said. "Parents who weren't able to get concert tickets, now they were able to take their kids and satisfy that demand, and kids were in a way able to be up close and personal, with the best seats in the house."

The film surpassed the previous Super Bowl record of $21.6 million set by "When a Stranger Calls," which opened over the same weekend two years ago.

Lionsgate's "The Eye," a remake of the Japanese horror hit, opened at No. 2 with $13 million. "The Eye" stars Jessica Alba as a blind concert violinist whose vision is restored by a corneal transplant that also results in terrifying visions.

"Desperate Housewives" co-star Eva Longoria Parker delivered a dud with her first top-billed movie, "Over Her Dead Body," which opened with a weak $4.6 million to finish at No. 11. Distributed by New Line, the movie stars Longoria Parker as a dead woman whose ghost tries to break up a romance between her fiance (Paul Rudd) and his new girlfriend.

Playing in just 683 theaters, "Hannah Montana" broke another record: never before has a movie in so few cinemas premiered at the top of the box office chart.

The movie averaged a whopping $42,460 a theater, compared to an average of $5,337 in each of 2,436 cinemas for "The Eye" and about $2,327 in each of 1,977 theaters for "Over Her Dead Body."

The grosses for "Hannah Montana" were boosted by higher admission prices many theaters charged because of the 3-D format. Tickets for "Hannah Montana" ran as high as $15, roughly 50 percent more than the top price for other movies.

The success of "Hannah Montana" showcased the commercial prospects for an upcoming wave of 3-D releases, both new movies such as this summer's adaptation of Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and rereleases such as the first two "Toy Story" films in 3-D versions.

Digital projection allows sharper and more realistic images than old-fashioned film 3-D, a 1950s fad revived only occasionally over the decades. Now, many big studio films come out in 3-D versions.

Those releases typically do three times more business than 2-D versions, said Michael Lewis, chairman and co-founder of Real D, whose digital-projection 3-D technology was used in most theaters showing "Hannah Montana" and will be used in an upcoming wide release of another concert film, "U2 3D," now playing in limited release.

The 3-D technology eventually could expand turn theaters into venues showing live concerts and sporting events, Lewis said.

"There are a lot of places, a lot of small towns where we have Real D in place where U2's not going to go, Hannah Montana's not going to play there," Lewis said. "They'll be able to see it in theaters, and in my view maybe with a better seat and better experience than if they were actually there live."

Hollywood's box-office roll continued, with the top-12 movies taking in $101.5 million, up 43 percent from Super Bowl weekend a year ago. Movie attendance so far this year is up nearly 11 percent, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

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