Walt Disney's 3-D movie "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concerts" topped movie box offices, raking in $29 million for the biggest opening for a normally slow Super Bowl weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
With U.S. professional football's championship game dominating the entertainment landscape, the 3-D movie of Cyrus' (a.k.a. Hannah Montana) 2007 singing tour brought teenage girls streaming into theaters with their parents, said Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group.
"We're looking at this and realizing we made a little piece of movie history," Zoradi said. "This has been a family movie, and we've had lots of parents exiting theaters saying, 'thank you because we couldn't get into any of her concerts."'
Supernatural thriller "The Eye," starring Jessica Alba, took the No. 2 slot at U.S. and Canadian box offices with a $13 million weekend. The No. 3 movie was romantic comedy "27 Dresses" with $8.4 million, according to industry tracker Media By Numbers.
Cyrus, the teenage daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, portrays the title character of Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel cable TV program of the same name. Hannah leads a typical teenage life by day, but has a secret singing career on weekends. The show is a hit with young viewers.
The concert movie's No. 1 performance was even more important in Hollywood for several reasons.
Ticket sales came from screenings in only about 680 theaters and grossed an average of nearly $42,500 per theater, according to Disney . A typical No. 1 movie in wide release would open in around 3,000 theaters and average perhaps $7,000 per theater.
Moreover, new digital 3-D movies are seen as a growing industry trend because theater owners want to put new types of entertainment in their venues so they can compete for audiences against DVDs, video games and the Internet.
The format also allows live concerts like the Hannah Montana shows, or sporting events like football or basketball games, to be shown in theaters in 3-D. Promoters say watching events in this new 3-D format makes audiences feel like they are in the live venue.
For legions of Hannah Montana fans, that factor seemed to be especially important. Cyrus' concert tour late last year was a sell-out and among the hardest live act tickets to come by.
"These 3-D movies can really take you to a place you wouldn't normally go," said Michael Lewis, chief executive officer of the company Real D, whose 3-D technology is used in screening the "Hannah Montana" concert movie.
Based on the opening weekend's popularity, Disney said it is extending the movie's run in theaters.