The Hannah Montana rule of economics: If you charge more money for your tickets than Jessica Alba, you can make more money.
And she did.
The 3D concert movie Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds topped the weekend box office with a record-setting $31.1 million, per final studio figures compiled Monday by Exhibitor Relations.
"I'm excited," Cyrus told E! News anchor Ryan Seacrest Monday of her box office glory. "Once I heard the news of what it was doing in the theaters, my first thought was just, 'Wow'...I'm super-stoked."
Alba's new horror movie, The Eye, debuted in second, with $12.4 million.
The Eye played in your standard 2D theater, where the nationwide average ticket price is just under $7. Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus played at 683 specially equipped 3D moviehouses, where the average ticket price is $15, according to Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock.
"You're talking about a film opening in the low teens had it not been in 3D," Bock said Sunday.
Still, based on a guesstimate of admissions (dividing average ticket price by number of screens), Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus outsold The Eye 1.9 million tickets to 1.8 million.
Even more impressive, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus, according to Exhibitor Relations, is the first to open number one while exclusively playing at 3D theaters. (Other 3D movies, including Spy Kids 3D: Game Over and Jaws 3-D, have debuted at number one, too, but they played at regular, old 2D theaters.)
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus, based on footage shot during the Disney Channel-spawned concert tour last summer, was only supposed to appear in theaters for one week. But strong ticket presales and big business have extended the run at least another week.
"The extra playing time will give more fans a chance to see their favorite performer in an exciting new way that brings the concert experience to life on the big screen. It will also accommodate those fans who want come and enjoy the experience again," Mark Zoradi, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group, said in a statement.
If the movie hangs around much longer, Bock said, U2's new self-titled 3D concert film, currently in limited release, where it made another $714,927 this weekend, for a two-week take of $2.1 million, will have trouble finding available screens and thus troubling breaking wide.
Given Ms. Montana's muscle, Bono would be advised to avoid a tussle.
Good news for fellow Oscar nominee Michael Clayton ($1.7 million): It'll be out on DVD soon.
Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
(Originally published Feb. 3, 2008 at 3:24 p.m. PT.)