Pale young leading man dreamboat? Check. Playing a cannibalistic monster who holds his predatory instincts in check? Check. Falls in love with a girl who looks like Kristen Stewart? Check. Based on a best-selling book, from Lionsgate/Summit? Double check. “Warm Bodies” took dead (har!) aim at the “Twilight” fanbase, with a little spillover from the “The Walking Dead” acolytes, coming together like a demographic stew to score the number one movie on Super Bowl weekend. Even if it drops next weekend, “Warm Bodies” should hold steady for Valentine’s Day, where it will be an ideal date night opportunity for couples who aren’t brave enough to come to the Swingers Mixer we have planned.
Despite popular theories stuck in the twentieth century, women make up a huge chunk of the viewership for horror films, so a horror rom-com for the kids who were raised on their “The Nightmare Before Christmas” VHS tapes makes more than enough commercial sense. It also gives a nice boost to potential star Nicholas Hoult, who has “Jack The Giant Slayer” coming next month, and an appearance in next year’s “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” on the docket. Despite popular industry wisdom that suggests Super Bowl weekend is a dead period, studios have been able to find success in the past few years launching wide releases during this period, with the famously guy-centric “Taken” exploding onto the scene a few years back during America’s pigskin celebration. The numbers for “Warm Bodies” aren’t as big, but they don’t disprove Super Bowl weekend now being a fertile ground for a high profile hit.
With a moderately decent hold, “Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters” lost a little over half its audience to fall out of the top spot. The picture is headed towards a decent $50 million plus American tally, which should add nicely to what’s expected to be an international total that may surpass nine figures. Now imagine if Jeremy Renner wasn’t ashamed of the film! Movin’ on up (movin’ on up) was “Silver Linings Playbook,” which added 168 theaters to total a loaded 2,809 tally, with the strongest hold in the top ten. In its twelfth week, The Weinstein Company is determined like hell to take this one to $100 million.
Biggest Film Of 2013, “Mama," has now posted a domestic gross higher than any horror film released since the tail-end of 2011. The chiller is the big win of the new year (so far), though most of the highest grossers of 2013 harken back to the end of ’12. Jessica Chastain also continues to play to audiences with “Zero Dark Thirty,” although consistently halving box office grosses and failing to win certain high profile awards have diminished the heat behind this film.
Making “The Last Stand” look like a blockbuster was the only other debut this weekend, the Sylvester Stallone-starring “Bullet To The Head.” This piddling three day total is but a fraction of the $12 million a supposedly-then-finished Stallone scored with his last solo starring vehicle, 2001’s stillborn “Driven.” Did that many people watch “The Expendables” ironically? The domestic totals for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “The Last Stand” and “Bullet To The Head” don’t even sniff the three day opening of “The Expendables 2” last year, which featured both Stallone and Schwarzenegger. That film pulled in $300 million worldwide, suggesting audiences want to see these two as long as they’re part of some sort of novelty act, not necessarily starring in the types of films they used to. Perhaps Bruce Willis should look out regarding the upcoming “A Good Day To Die Hard,” but that film is part of a franchise. Still tough guys in R-rated actioners should be on standby, particularly as far as the upcoming Schwarzenegger-Stallone team-up “The Tomb.”
“Bullet To The Head” was shuffled around the schedule, delayed as behind-the-scenes rumors dogged the production. But this analog actioner purposely looked like it had been delayed since 1992, presenting a red meat approach to action with limited winking or humor, little-to-no sex, and absolutely nothing for women. And arriving on the Super Bowl weekend was probably ill-advised: “Taken” was probably cited as a comparison, but that film had a familiar hook that appealed to audiences beyond young males, and carried a PG-13 rating. Ads for this film seemed to spotlight Stallone’s involvement when, sadly, the new millennium has proved that Stallone isn’t even a real person to audiences, just a film character: returns to the “Rambo” and “Rocky” well netted solid box office returns and playing off nostalgia, and his pop culture reputation helped “The Expendables” score with wide audiences. But '“Bullet' was a star vehicle that tested the waters for the former superstar returning to prominence as an actor, and audiences rejected this like JaVale McGee playing a game of pick-up ball with a five-year-old. Which is a funny image if you’re a sports fan, you nerd.
Speaking of red-meat action, “Parker” took the biggest tumble in the top ten and looks ready to join the sea of Jason Statham underperformers at your local Redbox. It barely stayed above the sixth week (Jesus, “Parker”) of “Django Unchained,” well on its way to becoming Quentin Tarantino’s biggest worldwide smash, and responsible for giving the blogosphere an excuse to begin the year with a smorgasbord of conversations about race. “Les Miserables” followed behind, registering similar grosses overall and generally being a stone-cold smash for Universal Pictures. Backing up the rear, and re-entering the top ten is “Lincoln,” which is looking at a second wind at the box office in order to pass $200 million domestic – it’s a long ways off, but a few Oscars on its mantelpiece could provide the final shove. Meanwhile, opening on 659 screens was “Stand Up Guys,” which should gross in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.
Among indie holdovers, "Quartet" continues to score generous crowds, with $1.2 million on 202 screens, bringing its four week total to a solid $3.4 million. Expanding from 64 to 94 theaters was "Amour," which pulled in $497k to bring its seven week total to $2.5 million. Meanwhile, the "2013 Oscar Nominated Short Films" presentation premiered at 105 locations, taking in $390k. Bigger per-screen debuts came for documentary "The Gatekeepers," which grossed $66k from three theaters, and "Koch," with $40k at two locations, while rock doc "Sound City" met with a quieter response, generating only $70k from 16 locations. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. The Warm Bodies Saga: Warm Bodies Part 1 (Lionsgate/Summit) – $20 million
2. Hansel And Gretel: High Concept (Paramount) – $9.2 million ($34.5 mil.)
3. Silver Chalice Playbook (The Weinstein Company) – $8.1 million ($80.4 mil.)
4. Mama (Universal) – $6.7 million ($58.3 mil.)
5. Zero Dirk Gently (Sony) – $5.3 million ($77.8 mil.)
6. Hey, Get That Bullet Away From My Head, Rocky! (Warner Bros.) – $4.5 million
7. Porker (FilmDistrict) – $3.2 million ($12.4 mil.)
8. Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company) – $3 million ($150.9 mil.)
9. Les Miserables (Universal) – $2.4 million ($141.5 mil.)
10. ¼ Of Mount Rushmore (Disney) – $2.4 million ($170.7 mil.)