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Weekend Box Office Top Ten: March Comes In Like a Lamb, ‘Giant Slayer’ Disappoints, ‘Phantom’ Disappears

Weekend Box Office Top Ten: March Comes In Like a Lamb, 'Giant Slayer' Disappoints, 'Phantom' Disappears

Yet another down weekend: the top ten grossed 37% less than 2012’s total, continuing a multi-week trend that is becoming a major problem. Grosses did climb a bit from last week, but the new films — led by $200 million would-be tentpole “Jack the Giant Slayer” — had much greater potential. None looks like it will enjoy any sort of sustained run, even if “Jack” slightly exceeded last-minute projections.

Among the top Oscar winners, only “Argo” is out on DVD; the Best Picture winner managed to take in an additional $2.2 million. Winners “Lincoln,” “Django Unchained” and “Les Miserables” scored only modest returns after successful runs. “Silver Linings Playbook” outran all of them to remain in the top 10.

One other new release, “Phantom” from RCR, was dead on arrival. It will only total around $500,000 on just over 1,000 screens.

 1. Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic score: 50

$28,010,000 in 3,525 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $7.946; Cumulative: $28,010,000

After a weak Friday, this $200-million budget Bryan Singer film picked up on Saturday with kids’ interest and 3-D charges elevating this to a weekend total actually above the tepid advance estimates. That said, the gross is still below what Disney’s “John Carter” grossed last March ($30 million on its way to a $73 domestic/$283 million worldwide total), which with an even higher gross was considered one of the major flops of 2012.

Co-produced by Warners’ unit New Line along with Legendary (which has bankrolled Christopher Nolan’s films and “Hangover” among others), “Jack” was initially set for release last summer, then delayed for more special effects work. Warners positioned the fairy tale actioner for early March release with the potential for being the first smash of the year (“The Lorax” the same weekend last year grossed $70 million) and to take advantage of upcoming school holiday weeks. Instead the picture will likely end up the third best opening of the year (after Universal’s “Identity Thief” and “Mama”), not good when “Jack” cost four times as much as those two films’ budgets combined.

This is Singer’s first film since Tom Cruise vehicle “Valkyrie,” which eked out $200 million worldwide, following the grand-scale “X-Men” films and “Superman Returns.” It was co-written by Christopher McQuarrie, with whom he collaborated on his breakout film, “The Usual Suspects.” The five listed producers include Neil Moritz, whose recent films include the “Fast and Furious” franchise, “Battleship: Los Angeles,” “Total Recall” and “21 Jump Street.”

What comes next: The film needs to gross over $400 million worldwide to have even a chance at profit. The international launch began this weekend, where the film will have to do over $300 million to get to that worldwide level, which seems unlikely.

2. Identity Thief (Universal) Week 4 – Last Weekend: #1

$9,700,000 (-31%) in 3,230 theaters (+8); PSA: $3,005; Cumulative: $107,400,000

Topping $100 million the same weekend as did “Bridesmaids” (which also hit $107 million as well), this is falling faster but still holding well. Its #2 position is a sign of weak overall business (“Bridesmaids” was #5 at $12 million at the same point), but it remains the biggest success of the year so far, with the end not yet in sight.

What comes next: Though its best days are over in the U.S., this is still on track to hit $130 million or more. The rest of the world still has to open this, which will make tan even nicer profit for this $35 million production.

3. 21 and Over (Relativity) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic score: 33

$9,000,000 in 2,771 theaters; PSA: $3,248; Cumulative: $9,000,000

Made cheaply ($13 million) and directed by the co-writers of “The Hangover” (from their script), this raunchy college comedy underperformed by a significant margin. Held back from critics and without major names, Relativity — fresh off its success with “Safe Haven” — had hoped to score with a counterprogrammer against “Jack the Giant Slayer.” But instead the flick fell short of the fourth weekend of the comedy hit of the moment (“Identity Thief”).

With production costs funded in part from Chinese sources (apparently the release there will be edited), this looked like a good bet up front. But unlike some of the low-budget horror successes in recent weeks, capturing the audience for an R-rated comedy with unknowns can be a challenge.

What comes next: Unless word of mouth is better than expected, this will likely be a two-week film in the top ten topping out at $25 million, somewhere in the range of the film’s marketing costs.

4. The Last Exorcism Part II (CBS) NEW – Cinemascore: C-; Metacritic score: 38

$8,300,000 in 2,700 theaters: PSA: $2,974; Cumulative: $8,300,000

Lionsgate released the initial film to a #1 opening of $20 million (doubling to $40 domestic). This sequel was made on a modest scale – $4 million cost, with CBS acquiring for $3 million, then providing the much higher cost marketing.

The latter makes this gross less than overwhelming despite its initial economy, particularly with a Cinemascore suggesting a brief shelf life.

This was not directed by an unknown as so many horror sequels are, but rather by Canadian Ed Gass-Donnelly, whose 2010 “Small Town Murder Songs” showed at Toronto before gaining a cult-following in its limited release.

What comes next: CBS early last year scored with both “The Woman in Black” and the more limited “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” This will have a much briefer run.

5. Snitch (Lionsgate) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #2

$7,700,000 (-42%) in 2,511 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $3,067; Cumulative: $24,410,000

Normal fall off for this father-son crime drama starring The Rock, showing reasonable audience reaction despite the less than spectacular opening.

What comes next: This seems headed to around a $40 million total, with likely modest foreign revenue kicking this into break-even or a bit above.

6. Escape from Planet Earth (Weinstein) Week 3 – Last Weekend: #3

$6,726,000 (-37%) in 3,110 theaters (-243); PSA: $2,163; Cumulative: $43,213,000

Whatever this project’s internal complications (the producers and Weinstein settled a lawsuit last week over the latter’s handling of the film), this continues to perform adequately. Though “Jack the Giant Killer” cut into its core kids’ audience, this still had a modest drop. Its total gross is still less than two thirds of what “The Lorax” opened to a year ago for its first three days, but the budget was far lower as well.

What comes next: With spring breaks ahead, this should hold on most of the month and have a shot at $70 million or more, which would be better than anticipated.

7. Safe Haven (Relativity) Week 3 – Last Weekend: #4

$6,300,000 (-40%) in 2,951 theaters (-272); PSA: $2,135; Cumulative: $57,093,000

Continuing its successful run, this now appears likely to exceed the level of most other recent Nicholas Sparks adaptations and provide Relativity with one of its most successful releases.

What comes next: Clearly getting a solid audience reaction, this should be around in or near the top ten for a few more weeks.

8. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) Week 16 – Last Weekend: #7

$5,941,000 (+3%) in 1,836 theaters (-176); PSA: $3,236; Cumulative: $115,521,000

Getting the biggest post-Oscar bump as the Weinstein timing of its multi-month release proved on target, this Best Actress-winning film shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon.

What comes next: This won’t be the biggest grossing Oscar film – its ultimate total likely will fall short of the winners in the other top categories. But it was by far the least expensive in initial budget, and even with massive marketing/Oscar campaign costs, their bet has paid off.

9. A Good Day to Die Hard (20th Century-Fox) Week 3 – Last Weekend: #5

$4,500,000 (-56%) in 2,589 theaters (-966); PSA: $1,738; Cumulative: $59,624,000

Falling hard and fast, this is limping toward a disappointing domestic take of about $70 million.

What comes next: Foreign could push this to breakeven, but whatever the total, this has been a disappointment, although not to the same degree as other action releases so far this year.

10. Dark Skies (Weinstein) Week 2 – Last Weekend: #6

$3,556,000 (-57%) in 2,313 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,537; Cumulative: $13,453,000

The horror-film pickup next gained traction and is headed for a quick fade-out.

What comes next: Weinstein’s Dimension division has a long track record of genre success, but in a winter with some real success in scary movies, their entry fell quite short.

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