Will Smith, Steven Spielberg, Nicolas Sparks, Tyler Perry – to these foolproof brands, add one more: the late Dr. Seuss. “The Grinch,” “The Cat in The Hat“ and “Horton Hears a Who” have all grossed over $100 million, and now, opening with stronger numbers than the three of them is “The Lorax.” The environmentally-minded ‘toon, which ironically has helped market SUVs, is the third effort from Illumination Entertainment, and it looks very likely to outgross the openings of both “Despicable Me” and “Hop.” Industry expectations pegged this as a huge opener, as it was a notably deflated market with no animated blockbusters since last winter’s mostly well-received “Puss-In-Boots.” In other words, duh.
In a similar vein, found-footage remains as reliable as ever with “Project X” pulling in similar numbers to this year’s “Chronicle.” Both films showcase that these types of films carry a strong draw for younger audiences, featuring youthful casts of unknowns getting in all sorts of YouTube-inspired mayhem. It says a lot about the current generation’s narcissism, perhaps, that they respond to movies that more closely resemble fancier versions of their home videos (and, in the case of “Chronicle,” video games), and less on stars or genuine production value. Also, get off our damn lawn. The numbers pulled in by “The Devil Inside” confirm that this filmmaking technique, whether it be used for horror, comedy or action, is not going away for a very long time.
Dropping from the top spot is “Act of Valor,” which held on after its debut to lose about half of its audience. A pricey ad campaign suggests the film, which did stellar opening weekend business in spite of having no stars and looking like a cheap recruitment vehicle, will still need a strong DVD life to register significant profit, though it will be curious to see what kind of global release the film receives, if any. The picture wasn’t necessarily as healthy as “Safe House,” which registered a very low percentage drop after its fourth week of release, passing the $100 million mark.
The week’s hefty audience loser was “Good Deeds,” which dropped almost 60%. This is par for the course as far as Tyler Perry’s films go, since they tend to be top-heavy one-weekend wonders, opening day events for a small but passionate fanbase. “Good Deeds” skews older than his other efforts, so there’s a chance the picture performs stronger in later weeks, but it would be fairly unlikely considering the established performances of his brand, and the frequency of which his films are released. Why rush out to see Perry’s next movie when another one is right around the corner?
The biggest picture of the year on a global level remains “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.” The film has already surpassed the first entry’s $241 million take, and there’s still a good $30-$40 million left to go for the movie’s domestic run. It’s been an overseas monster, but the sequel has yet to overshadow the domestic take of the other films released on the same date, “Safe House” and “The Vow.” The latter was massive in its first two weekends, and is now playing out the string for couples comprised of men and the women completely mad at them for not taking them to see it weeks ago.
The smallest percentage drop in the top ten belongs to “This Means War,” even though Fox aggressively cut 757 screens from the film’s run. A modest $55 million final tally is likely the endgame, keeping all involved working, giving Tom Hardy the widest exposure he’s had yet, and helping keep Reese Witherspoon in the public eye after the debacle that was “How Do You Know.” Chris Pine is the only one of these three with a consistent franchise in “Star Trek,” so it’s likely he’ll be leaving this off his resume.
“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is already playing to empty theaters nationwide, wasting time at the bottom of the top ten, though there's the distinct possibility the Nicolas Cage film will find favor overseas. More surprising was how it still managed to stay above the winner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. “The Artist” benefited from an expansion to 1,756 engagements from just under a thousand to register its biggest weekend gross thus far. Unfortunately, in the film’s fifteenth weekend, it appeared as if anyone who wanted to see the film have already done so, as it barely averaged a pathetic $2k per-screen after taking home film's “biggest honor.” The Oscars: awesomely irrelevant as ever? The film is up to a strong $81 million due to international support, and considering the film's purchase price for TWC, this is a solid win. But it's clear that the Weinsteins kept this in as many theaters as possible, utilizing a hefty P&A budget to get this film in front of the public eye, and the general response is positive, but generally less than enthusiastic.
In limited release, "A Separation" followed its Best Foreign Film Oscar win by shifting from 83 to 243 engagements, collecting a cool million to bring its ten week tally to $3.7 million. Also receiving an awards bump was Best Documentary winner "Undefeated", going from five to twelve locations with a third week take of $84k. The same success didn't greet other award winners, as "Hugo" lost 95 locations and dropped 14% with an extra $1.3 million added to its $71 million total, and "The Descendants" crossed $80 million despite losing 36% of its pre-Oscar audience from last weekend. At least the terrible, awful, not-very-good "The Iron Lady" added some extra shine: despite losing eleven theaters, the Best Actress Oscar winning vehicle saw almost a 30% uptick from last weekend's numbers, adding to its $27 million tally. Like fellow Weinstein release "The Artist", the Margaret Thatcher flatter-piece has been received well internationally, leading to a $73 million global gross.
Debuting on four screens was "Being Flynn", which was originally going to roll out significantly wider. The results were still not bad, with an $11k per-screen average and a $46k take. "Boy" and "The Salt Of Life" also debuted on two screens each — the former has already grossed $43 million internationally so its $23k score is a drop in the bucket, while the latter, close behind at $21k, also has a few more fans overseas, to the tune of $1.2 million. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. The Lorax (Universal) – $70.7 million
2. Assholes With Cameras (Warner Bros.) – $20.8 million
3. Eat Shit, Terrorists (Relativity) – $13.7 million ($45 mil.)
4. Safe House (Universal) – $7.2 million ($108 mil.)
5. Tyler Perry Presents Not In A Dress This Time (Lionsgate) – $7 million ($26 mil.)
6. Journey 2: State Of The Union (Warner Bros.) – $6.9 million ($86 mil.)
7. The Vow (Sony/Screen Gems) – $6.1 million ($112 mil.)
8. Who And Huh Fight Over Her? (Fox) – $5.6 million ($41 mil.)
9. Ghost Rider: Contractual Obligation (Sony) – $4.7 million ($45 mil.)
10. The Artist (The Weinstein Company) – $3.9 million ($37 mil.)