This weekend Sony ruled the North American box office with its fourth number one opening of the year as the alien invasion thriller Battle: Los Angeles debuted on top attracting a sizable action crowd. The stylish fairy tale pic Red Riding Hood bowed in third grossing less than expected while the animated adventure Mars Needs Moms struggled to find families with a poor launch in fifth place. The overall marketplace continued to fall behind year-ago levels as the entire weekend box office for all films in release fell below the top ten from last year.
Male action fans, missing in action for so long, turned up for the military actioner Battle: Los Angeles which topped the charts with an estimated $36M marking the year’s second biggest opening behind last weekend’s $38.1M for Rango. The PG-13 alien attack flick averaged a strong $10,536 from 3,417 locations and performed much like Sony’s 2009 hit District 9 which bowed to $37.4M. That film opened in the summer and earned much better reviews, but also carried an R rating and boasted no starpower. Battle received weak marks from critics but featured recognizable cast members like Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, and singer-actor Ne-Yo.
The studio’s marketing efforts worked wonders making the disaster film seem like an exciting action vehicle that could also play to sci-fi fans. Males made up 68% of the crowd according to studio research while 55% were over 25. With two cartoons and little red riding hood in the top five, this audience had little else to rally behind. Filmed in Louisiana and produced for $70M after tax rebates, the global destruction pic topped the box office in many overseas territories too. The film grossed an estimated $16.7M from 33 markets including top spot bows in Russia, Korea, the U.K., India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Columbia. The worldwide opening weekend stood at $52.7M.
Johnny Depp’s animated comedy Rango dropped from first place to the runner-up spot this weekend but held up well grossing an estimated $23.1M. Off just 40%, the PG-rated toon boosted its ten-day tally to an impressive $68.7M and is performing much like another March toon anchored by a big celebrity name — 2005’s Robots. That Robin Williams-led pic debuted this very weekend six years ago to $36M (close to Rango‘s $38.1M bow) and slipped 42% in its sophomore frame to $21M and a $66.1M gross in ten days on its way to a $128.2M final. Rango should make it past the $120M mark as well.
Young women didn’t show up in the expected numbers for the period thriller Red Riding Hood which opened in third with an estimated $14.1M from 3,030 theaters. Averaging a mediocre $4,665, the PG-13 pic starring Amanda Seyfried in a stylish reworking of the classic fairy tale got butchered by film critics and also failed to satisfy opening day patrons as its CinemaScore grade was a disappointing B-. There was not much direct competition for young females so Warner Bros. had that demographic to itself. But having a slick look, a teen love triangle, a star that’s popular with the target demo, and the Twilight director wasn’t enough.
Matt Damon’s latest offering The Adjustment Bureau dropped a moderate 46% in its second weekend taking in an estimated $11.5M. Universal has collected $38.5M in ten days and should find itself with roughly $65M by the end of the domestic run. Overseas activity has not been too spectacular with an estimated $8.9M collected this weekend from 31 territories for an international cume of $24M.
The 3D animated adventure comedy Mars Needs Moms from producer Robert Zemeckis was shunned by family audiences and debuted to only $6.8M, according to estimates. Averaging a sluggish $2,182 from 3,117 theaters, including a very aggressive 211 IMAX screens, the Disney release earned the best reviews of the frame’s new wide releases but failed to spark any excitement with its intended audience. Plus with rival toons Rango and Gnomeo & Juliet in the top ten collecting $26M in combined ticket sales, Mars struggled to stand out as a must-see pic. Produced for a reported $150M, the PG-rated film is a pricey misfire for Zemeckis’ ImageMovers which was recently shut down. Its previous film, A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey, grossed $325M worldwide but was also a very expensive project with a budget near the $200M mark making profitability on motion-capture CGI films difficult.
Two films tied for sixth place with $5.1M each, according to estimates. The Farrelly brothers comedy Hall Pass enjoyed another good hold slipping just 42% for a mild 17-day total of $34.9M. CBS Films saw a 48% drop for its teen romance Beastly which has banked $17M in ten days on its way to $26-28M overall.
Adam Sandler’s Just Go With It followed with an estimated $4M, down 38%, raising the cume to $94M making it the second highest-grossing 2011 release after the $97.5M of The Green Hornet. Both are Sony titles. With its Oscar glow fading, The King’s Speech fell 42% to an estimated $3.6M for The Weinstein Co. for a $129.1M total. The hit 3D toon Gnomeo & Juliet suffered the worst decline in the top ten thanks to another toon entering the marketplace and tumbled 51% to an estimated $3.5M. With $89M to date, the sleeper comedy ranks as the year’s third highest grosser.
Focus enjoyed a scorching debut for its period drama Jane Eyre which platformed in New York and Los Angeles in a pair of theaters in each city ringing up an estimated $182,000 for a sensational $45,579 average. Headlined by Mia Wasikowska who had a banner year in 2010 playing the title character in the megahit Alice in Wonderland and starring in the Oscar-nominated The Kids Are All Right, the PG-13 film attracted solid reviews and expands to eight additional markets next weekend before going much wider on March 25. Also in limited release, the mob thriller Kill the Irishman had a strong start debuting to an estimated $156,000 from five locations for a sturdy $31,100 average for Anchor Bay.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $112.8M which was down 13% from last year when Alice in Wonderland stayed in the top spot with $62.7M; but up 34% from 2009 when Race to Witch Mountain debuted at number one with $24.4M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!