As always, for background and historical context for all the weekend's new movies, check out John Gosling's obscenely detailed weekend preview HERE.
It wasn't so much a 'something for everyone' weekend as it was 'multiple things for the same general audience' as four wide releases aimed at thrill-hungry moviegoers and/or adults debuted on the same day, creating a clear case of mutually assured destruction. The top three movies are basically tied, but as always rank is irrelevant next to the actual hard numbers (why rank doesn't matter). For the moment, the top debut of the weekend may be End of Watch, a 'found footage'-style LA cop drama, parlayed strong reviews into a solid $13 million opening, which is the second-biggest debut for Open Roads outside of The Grey ($20 million) back in January. The $7 million film (purchased for $2 million) had a marketing and distribution cost of around $20 million, so even a $40 million final total will get this film in the black before home video. It also proves that Jake Gyllenhaal is a decent mid-range opener. He's useful when the film you're selling doesn't cost $200 million ala Prince of Persia. End of Watch is yet another installment in writer David Ayers's 'two volatile men in a car' sub-genre, which includes the likes of The Fast and the Furious, Training Day and Harsh Times (an underrated Christian Bale vehicle which he also directed). He wrote but did not direct the the LA Riots-set cop melodrama Dark Blue while directing but not writing the frankly mediocre Keanu Reeves cop melodrama Street Kings. Among films he directed, End of Watch should easily top the $26 million gross of Street Kings while it will be fifth (out of seven) if it can merely surpass the $9 million gross of Kurt Russell's Dark Blue. Fourth place is the $76 million-grossing Training Day, which is too far a bridge to cross at this point.
essay). Why Lionsgate instead chose to dump The Cold Light of Day into 1,500 theaters with no marketing support instead of transplanting this far more important investment I cannot say, but it was a costly error on their part. The general moviegoer crowd who wanted an R-rated action fix, especially couples, found it with End of Watch instead, as a star-driven cop drama is a much easier sell to a general audience member than a 3D sci-fi action comp based on a British comic book they've probably never heard of. Even surprisingly good reviews didn't matter. Oh well, judgment is indeed served.
review) expanded to 788 screens and didn't exactly set the world on fire. It's second weekend of play brought in $5 million, giving the film $6 million so far. It's above the $4.8 million expansion (on 885 screens) of There Will Be Blood. The Daniel Day Lewis vehicle was in its fifth weekend of release but also had Oscar nominations to boast about. Come what may, The Master was never going to be a mainstream hit and anything near or above $26 million gross of Boogie Nights (Anderson's second biggest grosser behind the $40 million finish of There Will be Blood) should be considered a win, especially if it can maintain awards momentum as the rest of the Oscar bait rolls into theaters over the next three months. The big limited release story was the eye-popping debut of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Based on an allegedly beloved novel by Stephen Chbosky (who wrote and directed his own film adaptation) about teenagers finding themselves in high school, Summit debuted the film on four screens and snagged an astonishing $61,000 per-screen. The film was relatively well reviewed and had the added bonus of being Emma Watson's first major role after the end of the Harry Potter series. Anecdotal evidence (for what it's worth, I do get 'on the ground reports' from time to time) informs me that this thing was sold out in the evening for much of the weekend, with a rather large middle school audience treating this as their The Master. This is the fourth-biggest per-screen average of the year and Summit's biggest ever. It played 70% female and 60% under-25. Obviously a massive per-screen debut for a limited release doesn't always guarantee equally mainstream success, but expect Summit to expand this one much faster than they perhaps intended to.
Meanwhile, ParaNorman passed $50 million and Lawless nears $35 million while The Possession hit $45 million and The Bourne Legacy crossed $110 million. Live and Let Die: Bourne Edition won't hit the $121 million gross of The Bourne Identity, although it's at $200 million worldwide and should out-gross the first film's $214 million global gross (although, ahem, this new Bourne cost twice what the first Bourne cost back in 2002). Well down the charts, Madagascar 3 has now surpassed Kung Fu Panda in the US with $215.8 million. Ted sits with $217 million while The Dark Knight Rises now has $443 million. Raiders of the Lost Ark is still playing in 85 IMAX theaters and has now grossed $3 million. The Expendables 2 has $82 million while Step Up: Revolution has $34 million here but $122 million worldwide, already outgrossing the $112 million worldwide total of Step Up and perhaps challenging the $150 million total of Step Up 2 the Streets and the $159 million global cume of Step Up 3D. And in small victories, The Words has now crossed $10 million. Oh, and The Cold Light of Day now has $3.6 million.
That's it for this weekend. Join us next time when Sony's Adam Sandler horror cartoon for kids Hotel Transylvania (my daughter wants to see that one so I may have a review on Saturday) squares off against the allegedly terrific (I'm seeing it Monday) Bruce Willis/Joseph Gordon Levitt time-travel thriller Looper. Oh, and Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter, Oscar Isaac, and Ving Rhames teach us about the evils of teachers unions and the glory of charter schools in Never Back Down. Until then, take care and keep reading. Oh, and see Robot and Frank if it's playing near you.