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Weekend Box Office: Mighty Immortals VFX Trounce Sandler Comedy Jack and Jill, DiCaprio as J. Edgar

Weekend Box Office: Mighty Immortals VFX Trounce Sandler Comedy Jack and Jill, DiCaprio as J. Edgar

Of  three high-profile pictures arriving this 11/11/11 weekend, Relativity’s “Immortals” easily captured the top spot with an estimated $32 million, landing ahead of expectations and marking a company best debut.  The stylized VFX-packed R-rated sword-and-sandal actioner from the producers of “300” and director Tarsem Singh was expected to open in the $25 million-to-$30 million range.

But while “Immortals” opened better than expected, it still fell short of the $61.2 million opening of Warner Bros.’ “Clash of the Titans” or the $70.9 million debut of “300.” Fully 66% of the weekend gross for “Immortals” came from premium-priced 3-D theaters. It was the third-highest opening this year for an R-rated film. Internationally, “Immortals” opened in over 35 territories and generated an estimated $36 million, with several still yet to report, which brings the worldwide total to an estimated $68 million. More details and top ten box office chart are below.

“Anytime you exceed expectations, it’s a good thing,” crowed Kyle Davies, President of Worldwide Theatrical Distribution for Relativity, who expects the film to hold well through the Thanksgiving holiday. “There are no other action movies opening until Christmas, so we have a wide open field ahead of us.”

The overall boxoffice was helped this weekend by two Friday holidays, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day in Canada, giving a boost to Thursday evening shows as well as Friday, with many schools and government offices closed for the federal holiday.

Sony’s PG-rated “Jack and Jill,” the latest comedic outing from Adam Sandler, arrived with an estimated $26 million to place second, better than anticipated but less than his previous two films. Warner Bros.’ awards-bound “J. Edgar,” helmed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, generated a respectable estimate of $11.5 million to spy the fifth slot, with a cume of $11.6 million since its limited opening on Wednesday. “Edgar” expanded to 1,910 theaters on Friday, while “Immortals” and “Jack and Jill” were in 3,112 and 3,438 locations, respectively.

The opening of “Jack and Jill” was “right where we hoped we’d be this weekend, in the mid $20 million area, and feeling really good about heading into Thanksgiving and the holidays,” said Rory Bruer, President of Worldwide Distribution for Sony. “Sandler is one of the few actors that is able to make American comedies work abroad – he really does resonate, not only here, but throughout the world.” Sandler’s opening weekend in Mexico was the star’s largest to date in that country.

Sandler’s loyal fan base makes his comedies somewhat “critic proof”; his best-performing projects are sometimes his worst reviewed. In this case “Jack and Jill” ranked at 17% on the Tomatometer.  Of Sandler’s last eight wide release comedies, seven grossed more than $100 million; only the dark comedy-drama “Funny People” failed to reach that mark. Sandler’s last film “Just Go With It” opened at $30.5 million and went on to gross $103 million, while “Grown Ups” debuted with $40.5 million and rocketed to $162 by the end of its domestic run.  Sandler’s “Bedtime Stories” opened nearest “Jack,” with $27.5 million and went onto $110.1 million.

With a modest budget of $35 million, “Edgar” is off to a solid start. “We have a very well reviewed film that’s going to play extremely well and we expect strong world of mouth, the great reviews and year-end awards to propel us through the holidays,” said Dan Fellman, WB’s President of Domestic Distribution. The audience was 54% female, thanks largely to DiCaprio, with 66% over 50 and 94% over 25.

“J. Edgar” opened in the general range of Eastwood’s recent releases: “Hereafter” opened with $12 million and “Invictus” debuted with $8.6 million, and both films ended up totaling some $30 million. Eventual Oscar-winner “Million Dollar Baby” opened with $12.3 million on its first weekend of wide release and went on to over $100 million; “Mystic River” grossed $10.4 million and ended up with $90.1 million.

After two weekends at number one, DreamWorks/Paramount’s animated “Puss In Boots” moved into the third spot with an estimated $25.5 million, slipping a slim 23% from a week earlier.  The boxoffice gravity-defying picture from DreamWorks Animation crossed the $100 million mark in 9 days as its cume reached an estimated $108.81 million through Sunday.

Universal’s “Tower Heist” dropped into the fourth spot with a gross of an estimated $13.7 million, down a moderate 43% from its lukewarm debut. The Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy starrer has taken in an estimated $43.87 million in 10 days.  Brett Ratner helmed the comedy– during the last week his name has been associated with a lot of drama due to his and Murphy’s departure from producing and hosting this year’s Oscar telecast due to Ratner’s off-color remarks in various public forums; they were swiftly replaced by Brian Grazer and Billy Crystal, respectively.

Warner Bros.’ “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” moved into the sixth spot with an estimated gross of $5.9 million on its sophomore session, off a sharp 54% from it’s opening, bringing the 10 day total for the R-rated comedy franchise to around $23.2 million. “H&K 3D” has already surpassed the total gross of the first “Harold & Kumar” film, but has to reach $38.1 million to match the second film in the franchise, “Escape from Guantanamo Bay.”

Each of this weekend’s three new arrivals targeted a discreet movie going demographic: “Immortals” veered toward young males with its R-rating; “Jack and Jill” skewed toward young males and females with a broad PG rating; and “J. Edgar” tracked well with the older adult demo. Thus the three films didn’t cannibalize each other’s audiences. Critics for the most part were not fans of the frame’s new releases, all scoring less than fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, with “Jack and Jill” garnering the lowest score and “J. Edgar” the highest (41% on the Tomatometer).  Audiences were kinder, giving the three films a majority of favorable marks; “Immortals” scored highest with 75% liking the film; Cinemascore was a B, and a B+ for those under 25. Its audience tilted ethnic, as 70% was non-Caucasian: 35% Hispanic, 12% African-American, 13% Asian and 10% other.

Budgeted at $75 million, “Immortals” marked a huge gamble for Relativity, as the company’s biggest film to date, and should perform even better overseas, as did both “300” and “Clash of the Titans,” which derived about 67% of its worldwide gross from overseas markets. “Immortals” proves a boon for Warners down the line, as star Henry Cavill plays the title role Superman in the next installment of that signature franchise, “Man of Steel.”

Here’s the indie box office report.

Top Ten Weekend Box Office Chart

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