'Cloverfield' Devours January

You know, Hollywood has a dream, too: Seeing summer box office numbers in the dead of January. This weekend, that dream has finally come to pass, bringing movie executives of all stripes and luxury-car-driving-categories out of their offices and into the streets, to stand together and toss bushels of warm money into the air in a stirring showing of producerly love. The numbers:

1. Cloverfield - $41 million
Slight spoilers ahead: Can you say Best. January. Opening. Ever? Paramount can, and will—a lot, as the Siberian gulag of a movie-release month miraculously thawed in time (Al Gore warned us!) to bring the studio the kinds of numbers one might expect from a July release that ends in 3. A lot was at stake for Cloverfield, as some wondered whether relying so heavily on internet-disseminated buzz could have easily spelled a Snakes on a Curse for the YouTube-Eats-Manhattan movie. At the end of the day, however, it was its utter lack of irony—the dire, matter-of-fact style in which it documented the horrors of CW stars being eaten by Rottweiller-sized crab lice—that was the secret to Cloverfield's success.

2. 27 Dresses - $22.4 million
Fox will likely attribute the success of 27 Dresses—the 8th! Best! January! Opening! etc. etc.—to its positioning as attractive counter-programming to Cloverfield, but we suspect that to be only half the case. In an inspired, soon-to-be-studied-at-Annenberg marketing phenomenon, we think Dresses's hefty take was the result of mass chick-movie/guy-movie bartering agreements, with couples throughout America agreeing to see one if their mate agreed to accompany them to the other. As a result, the adventures of a shrewish, unmarriable Katherine Heigl acted not unlike a Rottweiller-sized crab louse, hanging off its much larger box-office-monster host-body.

3. The Bucket List - $15.1 million
With Jack Nicholson's recent admission to AARP The Magazine that he "can't hit on a girl in public like he used to," the legendary ladies man has begun compiling a sexual-conquest-themed bucket list of his own, beginning with the elusive Me With 17 UCLA Co-Eds fantasy he's meant to accomplish since Chinatown days.

4. Juno - $10.25 million
Certainly Oprah having designated Juno as an official Steadman's Movie Club™ selection and "fresh" couldn't have hurt the indie teen pregnancy comedy at the box office this weekend. We doubt, however, that Dr. Phil's decision to then jump on the bandwagon and ambush Juno in her hospital room with TV cameras and a lecture on sexual responsibility did much to affect the bottom line.

5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $8.1 million
You mean to tell us there was still $8 million worth of people meaning to getting around to seeing Secrets, who finally did so this weekend? What could they possibly have had going on in their lives that kept them away for three weeks?