Butts In Seats | <i>Contagion</i> Infects The Weekend Box Office

Every Monday we all gather on the Internet or around the proverbial water cooler to discuss how much money such-and-such movie made over the weekend. What does that mean, though? If a movie grosses $500 million in three days, it’s plenty impressive, but how many people actually SAW it? That’s what “Butts in Seats” is all about. Using an average ticket price of $7.86 – the national average ticket price as of Q1 2011 – “Butt in Seats” gives you an idea of just how many people crammed their posteriors into theater seats over the course of the weekend. Note that all figures are rounded to the nearest hundred thousand.

This weekend was a light one for Hollywood, at least in terms of the turnout. Contagion was the weekend's big winner -- really the weekend's only winner -- with a $23.1 million gross at the box office, enough to put it in the No. 1 spot. That breaks down to roughly 2.9 million Butts in Seats for the 2D-only film.

The numbers drop off dramatically after that, with Buena Vista's The Help continuing to perform well, though that's a relative term when you're discussing the just-ended weekend. The comedy-drama sits in the second-place spot with just $8.7 million in box office receipts, or 1.1 million Butts. Warrior is the only other new release from last week to really register on the weekend charts, taking the No. 3 position with $5.6 million in tickets sold and just 700,00 Butts.

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and Creature were the weekend's other two wide openers, with each debuting on about 1,500 screens. Bucky landed at No. 15 on the weekend charts, with $1.5 million in tickets and roughly 200,000 Butts. Creature barely managed to cross the $300,000 line, a figure low enough to put it outside the weekend's Top 25.

Box Office Mojo notes that the horror flick hit some record numbers, standing as the fifth lowest-grossing opening for a nationwide release and the second-worst in per-location average. Ouch.

If there was another winner this weekend, it was the Kevin Hart comedy performance flick Laugh at My Pain. The movie's $2 million gross (300,000 Butts) was enough to earn it the No. 13 spot on the weekend charts. What's more, the film opened on just 97 screens, giving it an impressive per-location average. It actually performed even better than Contagion did in that regard, nearly tripling the $7,180 per theater average that the number one performer nabbed.

For reference, Contagion's $7,180 average works out to 913 Butts per theater over the course of the weekend. Compare this to Laugh's $20,619 average, which comes out to roughly 2,623 Butts per theater.

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