Sunday, February 3, 2013

Weekend Box Office (02/03/13): Warm Bodies tops while Bullet to the Head tanks.

Ah, Super Bowl weekend!  Warm Bodies (review) can go from a $9 million Saturday to a $2.9 million Sunday and it's okay!  According to the studio, it earned $8.1 million on Friday, $9 million on Saturday, yet is expected to make just $2.9 million today.  Yes, I know today is the Super Bowl, but I'm always shocked by these mega drops each and every year.  The film, which has an estimated $20 million debut, played 60% female (because girls like horror films too!) and 65% under 25, which means it is doing best outside of the stereotypical older male football fan who is already getting ready for the big game so it may end up with a slightly higher weekend total in the end.  It earned a B+ from Cinemascore, with an A- from those under 25 and an A from those under 18.  Regardless, this is a solid debut for a film that easily could have played to the geek crowd exclusively. This is the kind of film that could have easily opened with $8 million over the weekend, as opposed to $8 million on its first day.

Summit Entertainment deserves kudos for a campaign that emphasized both the somewhat unusual romance at its center as well as the film's richer thematic elements.  As noted above, the film's mix of horror tropes and romance played to female audiences of both stripes, those who just like horror films and those who like romance mixed with a bit of horror spice.  If these genre hybrids are indeed going to be a 'thing' for awhile (Hansel & Gretel; Witch Hunters 3D earned another $9.2 million this weekend, for a not-horrible $34 million domestic cume and a stunning $97 million worldwide total), this is a textbook case in how to do them right.  Anyway Jonathan Levine has another critical and box office winner (50/50 was no flop, earning $35 million off an $8 million debut and an $8 million budget).  Now Summit has to emphasize both the weighter elements to rope in the older audiences and the romance to that it can become the compromise date movie over Valentine's Day versus the comparative extremes of Safe Haven and A Good Day to Die Hard.

Speaking of A Good Day to Die Hard, 20th Century Fox has to be a little nervous following the third straight flopping of an action icon's R-rated genre fare.  Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head (review) earned just $4.5 million this weekend.  Other than the 658 screen debut of Nighthawks (ironically one of his best films) which opened with $2.8 million back in 1981, this is Sylvester Stallone's worst wide debut in his very long career.  What this means overall is sketchy.  One could cynically take it as yet another rejection of the kind of nostalgia fueled action throwback that has played to mostly empty theaters this month.  The Last Stand dropped 85% in weekend three, ending its 17th day with $11 million.  It will not reach the $16 million gross of Raw Deal and will end up Schwarzenegger's lowest grossing star vehicle ever (he was a supporting character in the $6 million grossing Red Sonja).

Jason Statham's Parker is doing the usual middling Statham numbers, earning just $3 million this weekend and ending day ten with $12 million.  Does this mean that Fox's R-rated A Good Day to Die Hard is in for a comparable fate, akin to Scream 4 in 2011 or American Reunion in 2012?  An optimist would merely state that all of the prior three releases looked terrible and Parker and Bullet to the Head both looked like direct-to-DVD fare.  Heck, while The Last Stand was surprisingly good, it wasn't until the very earliest reviews rolled in that I was excited enough to pursue a press screening myself.  Truth be told, Fox is so strong in foreign markets that Die Hard 5 could arguably tank in America and still make enough of a killing to justify its $100 million budget overseas (which is what I think led them to just go with that R-rating in the end).  Not that I think it will "tank", but the question is whether it can appeal to those outside of the 'I grew up with this series but it's not worth a babysitter' crowd.  Right or wrong, I have to believe that someone in Fox is wondering where they put that 3D-converted, PG-13 version of A Good Day to Die Hard.

The only other major release was the 450-screen debut of the Al Pacino/Chris Walken/Alen Arkin gangster dramedy Stand Up Guys.  The Lionsgate release earned just $1.5 million.  The film was released uber-limited in December for the express purposes of chasing Oscar nominations that it had no chance of receiving.  Frankly a movie like this likely would have worked better as summer counter-programming rather than an Oscar bait-wannabe fighting among the actual Oscar contenders.  Other than that, it's holdover news.  And in Oscar-land, it's all about milestones.  The Silver Linings Playbook crossed $80 million, Argo crossed $120 million, Les Miserables crossed $140 million, Django Unchained crossed $150 million, and Lincoln crossed $170 million. Zero Dark Thirty is holding in there too as it crossed $77 million.  In films with little hope of Oscar attention next year, Movie 43 dropped 66% in weekend two for a $1.6 million weekend.  Snark aside, the film is so cheap ($6 million) that it will end up making money before DVD, where it is sure to become a curiosity rental.  Mama is holding strong for a horror film, earning another $6.75 million this weekend for a terrific $58 million cume and becoming the highest-grossing horror film since Paranormal Activity 3 back in October 2011.

That's it for this weekend.  Join us next time for the Melissa McCarthy/Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief and Stephen Soderbergh's prescription-meds thriller Side Effects with Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, and Jude Law.  Until then, enjoy the film commercials... err, I mean enjoy the game.

Scott Mendelson          

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