Box Office Recap:Viewers Get Into He’s Just Not That Into You

January’s surprising success seems to have carried over into February, as the top ten domestic films for the weekend of February 6 – 8 amounted to a nearly 49 percent gain over the same frame last year. After debuting on top last weekend, Taken was knocked down to second as the new romantic comedyHe’s Just Not That Into You powered ahead of expectations to claim the top of the chart. Other strong performances from Coraline and Paul Blart: Mall Cop helped the top ten reach a mammoth estimated total gross of $124.2 million.

Warner Bros.’s star-studded He’s Just Not That Into You easily claimed the number one position with an estimated $27.5 million, well ahead of industry predictions. Despite direct competition next week from Confessions of a Shopaholic, Into You should hold nicely thanks to the convenient placement of Valentine’s Day next Saturday.

Second went to 20th Century Fox’s thriller Taken, which dropped a scant 18 percent for $20.3 million in its second weekend and $53.4 after just 10 days. The flick’s fantastic hold now makes it conceivably on track to break through the century mark at the North American box office. However, because last weekend’s Superbowl stole away much of Taken‘s first Sunday gross, a small drop this following weekend should have come as no surprise. Hence a harder drop next weekend could result. Look for the film to fall just short of some industry pundits’ $100 million predictions with a final domestic tally of about $90 million. Either way, Fox should be happy.

Focus Features’s first 3-D animated film, Coraline, also opened terrifically, with an opening weekend take of $16.4 million for third place. With overwhelmingly positive reviews, look for the film to hold well throughout the next few weeks for a final domestic tally of $60 million, making it one of the highest-earning films for Focus ever.

Debuting to less applause was Sony’s sequel The Pink Panther 2, which claimed fourth place with just $12 million. The number represents only 60 percent of the first film’s opening weekend take. With laughably bad reviews, look for the film to drop out of the top ten shortly for a quiet end to the franchise.

Rounding out the top five was January’s most successful-and most unlikely-winner, Paul Blart: Mall Cop. This weekend the flick dropped just 20.7 percent for $11 million and a massive $97 million after 17 days. Look for the film to break through the century mark by Friday, thereby sealing the deal for a sequel at some point in the near future.

In other news, Summit Entertainment’s Push opened silently in sixth place with just $10.2 million. Though expected to steal away much of Taken‘s audience, the film proved far more unpopular than the similar Jumper from last year. Still, with their brand new vampire-themed franchise Twilight, the studio won’t be leaving any time soon. Seventh place went to Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, which suffered a drop of just 10 percent for an estimated $7.4 million in its fifth weekend of wide release. Eighth went to Slumdog Millionaire, which also held well after dropping only 3 percent-the smallest in the top ten-for an estimated $7.4 million this weekend and a stunning $75 million overall. Ninth went to The Uninvited with $6.4 million while tenth went to Hotel for Dogs with $5.8 million.

Compared to last week’s forecast, He’s Just Not That Into You nearly doubled my predicted opening weekend gross of $14 million, while Push opened slightly below my predicted $14 million. Meanwhile, The Pink Panther 2 made about half of my predicted $22 million, while Coraline powered well ahead of my predicted $9 million.

Though less crowded than this weekend, next weekend’s three wide releases look strong and could once again continue 2009’s growth pattern at the domestic box office. Opening in over 3,000 theaters is a reboot to the Friday the 13th thrasher franchise, while the romantic comedy Confessions of a Shopaholic and the Clive Owen bank thriller The International open in about 2,400 theaters each. Look for the new Friday the 13th to open well thanks to its large fan base with about $32 million, while both The International and Confessions could debut with about $16 million each.