As the Super Bowl likely attracted over 100 million viewers (remember last year’s Super Bowl telecast drew 111 million viewers and was the most-watched program of all-time in American television history) it took its toll on the box-office. Most of the holdovers dropped well over 40% and it was thanks to two very potent $20+ million openers that the Top 12 cume still amounted to $95.9 million which was just 2.2% down from last weekend. The Woman in Black and Chronicle both vied for the top spot and came in just $1 million within one another by the end of the weekend. Overall the Top 12 cume was up a tremendous 30.7% from the same weekend last year when The Roommate assumed the top position with $15 million.
After narrowly winning Friday ($8.6 million vs. $83 million) the $12-million budgeted “found-footage” super-powers themed Chronicle could maintain its lead over The Woman in Black throughout the weekend and won the #1 position of the box-office with $22 million from 2,907 locations. It averaged a solid $7,568 and scored a decent “B”-grade from CinemaScore. Coupled with the overall great reviews the film has received it bodes well fpor its future prospects, even though history has shown the “found footage” type of films to be on the more frontloaded side of things. Even though it is till yearly in the yearly, this is already the second “found-footage” film to break out and take the #1 spot of the box-office with the first being the R-rated The Devil Inside which topped the first weekend of January. Unlike The Devil Inside, though, Chronicle is more accessible to general audiences, carrying a PG-13 rating and having fared much better with audiences and critics alike. While The Devil Inside ended up with some of the worst legs ever for a wide release (it might not even reach an opening-to-total multiplier of 1.6), Chronicle should be able to hang around for longer. Its main competition will be the comic book adaptation sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance which will hit the theatres in two weeks.
Unlike films like Cloverfield or The Last Exorcism Chronicle doesn’t seem to split audiences in love/hate camps with an unsatisfying ending. Most seem to enjoy the film and therefore I expect it to defy the trend of “found footage” movies dropping like a rock following a solid opening weekend. It should play well throughout the month and finish with $60-70 million. Given its small production budget that is more than enough for an inevitable sequel. Chronicle is a prime example of what Cloverfield has already showcased in the past – that it is possible to create a film on a blockbuster technical-level without throwing $200 million out of the window. Let’s hope that Chronicle will help this trend to continue.
It has become almost a tradition that a horror movie tops the Super Bowl weekend. In most cases the #1 movies were terribly reviewed PG-13 teen flicks (When a Stranger Calls, The Roommate, Boogeyman and The Messengers come to mind). So it is quite ironic that the first well-reviewed horror movie to open on the Super Bowl weekend in quite some time (it stands at 62% at RottenTomatoes.com), The Woman in Black, failed to capture the top spot of this weekend. Nevertheless, its $21 million opening from 2,855 locations (PTA of $7,356) still marks the 6th-biggest Super Bowl weekend opening ever. There is even more positive to report on the film. With its $13 million budget it is already a guaranteed hit for CBS Films. The studio has struggled ever since it started distributing films in 2010 with its only hit to date being the Jennifer Lopez romcom The Back-Up Plan which made $37.5 million on a $35 million production budget. The Woman in Black will pass that figure within two weeks from now. It is particularly ironic considering that it is CBS Films’ cheapest film to date. On top of that, The Woman in Black marks Daniel Radcliffe’s first starring role since the end of the Harry Potter franchise and it looks like he was able to turn himself into a box-office draw of sorts even outside of his hugely successful fantasy franchise. Period horror is often not an easy sell and this Hammer productions feature really opened well above expectations. With its “B-“ CinemaScore word-of-mouth seems to be mixed. On the other hand it is the last horror movie to hit the theatres for a very long time and that might help the longevity (within limits) a little bit. It should wind up with $53-58 million in the bank. It’ll be interesting to see where Radcliffe’s career will go from now on in terms of success and whether he’ll be able to maintain his status as a solid draw.
Last weekend’s top choice The Grey lost 51.7% of its audiences as it slid down to #3 and made $9.5 million over the three-day portion. The Open Road Films’ total gross now stands at $34.8 million which is impressive given its $25 million budget. Even though the film has scored very solid word-of-mouth its male demographics were obviously hit hard by the Super Bowl event on Sunday. Under normal circumstances I’d expect it to rebound next weekend. However it’ll get strong competition as the Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds R-rated actioner Safe House will open then and target its demographics as well. It might not be until the Presidents Day weekend that it will catch some breath. In any case the film is already a great success for the distributor and for its star Liam Neeson who has once again shown his box-office drawing abilities when cast in the right film. It will finish with around $60-65 million.
Universal’s feel-good environmental family flick Big Miracle was the third wide opener this weekend and the only one to open to somewhat disappointing numbers. Even though the Drew Barrymore film also garnered positive reviews and a great “A-“ from CinemaScore, it delivered just $8.5 million from 2,129 theatres for an average of $3,992 per theatre. With the film’s $40 million budget it still has a long way to go to turn into profit. What makes the subdued opening even more disappointing is the fact that it really had no competition in the family-oriented marketplace at all, being the only family-oriented film in the entire Top 12. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast re-release is winding down its run and there hasn’t been a major new film for the kids since Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked which opened eight weeks ago. Nevertheless, it looks like the theme of saving whales during the time of the Cold War didn’t appeal much to the families. Good word-of-mouth might help the film but with two major PG films opening next weekend (The Phantom Menace in 3D and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) it will most likely get lost in the shuffle and won’t be able to hold on to its screens and theatres long enough. It will end up in the $25-30 million range. After hitting it big with Contraband a few weeks ago, it appears like Universal landed its first minor miss of the year with Big Miracle.
After a surprisingly solid hold last weekend, Underworld: Awakening suffered under the Super Bowl this weekend. It dropped three spots to the fifth slot of the box-office and took in $5.6 million (down 54.7%) for a running total of $54.4 million. Despite the strong hit it took, it was still able to score the biggest 3rd weekend gross of the Underworld franchise and extend its lead over Underworld: Evolution (the previous highest-grosser of the series) to $1.4 million. Next weekend, however, will be a true test for it. While it should rebound from the Super Bowl, it will lose a lot of its 3D screens to the aforementioned two family-oriented openers and, more importantly, most of its IMAX screens to Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. On top of that it will also have to contend with Safe House for the R-rated adult audiences. It looks like another harsh hit is in store for it and it remains to be seen whether it’ll be able to maintain its lead over Evolution. It should be noted, however, that Awakening has already become the 2nd-biggest film of the franchise domestically (and the biggest overseas). At this point I see it finishing above Underworld: Evolution with a solid $65 million total. It’ll be only thanks to a god overseas run, though, that the movie will turn into good profit given its surprisingly big $70 million budget.
Katherine Heigl’s critically reviled action comedy One for the Money plunged 54.4% in its sophomore weekend for a $5.3 million weekend take and $19.7 million after ten days. It settled for the 6th spot of the box-office. With The Vow going for its female audiences next weekend and This Means War doing the same a few days later, One for the Money certainly won’t spend much more time in the Top 12. It looks like either Heigl’s draw has vanished over the course of the terrible films she has been in lately or that even she can’t overcome the lame marketing and the terrible reviews for this bestseller adaptation. Either way One for the Money will find itself with around $30 million in the bank.
Dropping to #7 this weekend the World War II action drama Red Tails decreased 51.8% and grabbed $5 million in the process. That puts its total gross at a solid $41.3 million after three weeks. With the film enjoying very good WoM a leggier run could have been expected, though. While WoM might kick in soon, it simply won’t have much time to spend in theatres for it to work well. The onslaught of wide openers (there will be seven over the next two weeks) will prevent it from holding on to its screens. It will go on to finish with around $54 million. With its $58 million price tag and a lacking overseas appeal the prospects of a proposed sequel/prequel don’t look that good anymore (though obviously George Lucas can afford to just put money into producing one anyway if he really wants to).
Among the holdovers only the awards contenders managed to thrive. Alexander Payne’s The Descendants managed the 2nd-best hold in the entire Top 12 dipping just 28.2% to $4.6 million while holding on to its #8 spot. Its running total comes in at $65.5 million by now with the big ceremony still weeks away. The five-time Oscar nominated drama is currently the 9th-biggest film ever that has never entered the Top 5 of the box-office throughout its run. It’s ironic that two films have been released towards the end of last year which made that curious list’s Top 10 (the other being We Bought a Zoo which resides at #6 of the list with $72.7 million in the bank so far). Even more ironic is the fact that the #8 movie on that list, right in front of The Descendants, is Alexander Payne’s previous movie, Sideways ($71.5 million). Moreover, at #3 of that list, as the highest-grossing non-IMAX film on the list, sits Up in the Air ($83.8 million), George Clooney’s last big Oscars contender. The interesting question that arises is whether The Descendants will be able to top it. Of course the film’s final gross will heavily depend on its Oscars performance. However, whether or not it takes the top prize, I still expect it to finish above Up in the Air. Currently I project it to end up with $85-90 million, though a Best Picture win would most likely lift it above $100 million.
Summit’s Man on a Ledge dropped four spots to #9 as it decreased just a comparatively soft 43.8% to $4.5 million. Its total gross stands at $14.7 million after ten days. It looks like its solid WoM is already kicking in. I still don’t expect it to hang around for long. It will benefit from having no direct competition next weekend, but should crumble soon afterwards due to losing a lot of venues. It will leave the theatres with about $24 million in its pockets.
The Best Picture nominee Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close rounded off the Top 10. The film was really able to capitalize on its surprising nomination so far. It dropped 43.8% to $3.9 million, bringing its total to $26.8 million. Considering the film’s high profile with its stars Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, its theme and its Best Picture nod, this is definitely not a great total. Given its mediocre reviews, though, the studio still should be happy it even made it this far. It will wind up with $38 million.
Dropping out of the Top 10 in its fourth weekend, Universal’s surprise action hit Contraband collected another $3.5 million (down 47.9%) and brought its running total to $62.1 million. It is currently the highest-grossing movie of 2012. With Safe House opening next weekend, it doesn’t have much room left to develop any legs, but its performance has still been great so far for its $25 million budget. The movie is on course to a $69 million finish when all is said and done.
The Artist was another showcase of the Oscars contenders’ strength this weekend. The silent black-and-white sensation added another 108 theatres which brought its theatre count above 1,000 for the first time (to 1,005). This increase, its awards buzz and good WoM helped it to the smallest decline in the Top 12 as it eased just 22.6% to $2.6 million and put its total at $20.6 million. Considering that the film is currently the prime contender to win the Best Picture Academy Award it still has a long way to go and it is difficult to determine its likely final gross. Right now, it looks like it will finish with around $35-50 million in the bank, though I think more is possible.