Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Bradley Cooper More Popular Than Lawyers and Aliens

Limitless bests Lincoln Lawyer and Paul in a modest weekend.

by | March 20, 2011 | Comments

The paranoia-fueled action thriller Limitless led a trio of new releases and opened at number one with a sturdy debut. The crime drama The Lincoln Lawyer and the road comedy Paul both attracted respectable business landing in the top five but the overall marketplace once again failed to match up to last year’s levels.

Relativity Media’s new distribution operation scored its first top spot bow with the Bradley Cooper drama Limitless which premiered on top with an estimated $19M finishing a few notches above industry expectations. The fast-paced thriller about a washed up writer who finds wealth and success after taking a top-secret drug that unleashes the full power of his brain averaged a solid $6,894 from 2,756 theaters and played well to adults of both genders. Produced for $30M, the PG-13 film marked the first hit for Cooper as a leading man after numerous wins at the box office in ensemble pics, most notably 2009’s sleeper smash The Hangover. Robert De Niro co-starred.

Audience research showed that cross-gender appeal was strong as females only slightly outnumbered males with 52% of the crowd. 60% was 25 and over while 57% was non-Caucasian. Despite heavy competition for adults right now, Limitless connected with its target audience thanks to an effective marketing push that included a high-profile TV spot during the Super Bowl over a month ago.

Holding steady in second place in its third weekend of play was Johnny Depp’s animated comedy Rango which slipped only 32% to an estimated $15.3M. After 17 days the Paramount release has tallied an impressive $92.6M and will break nine digits by the end of the week becoming the bankable actor’s sixth $100M+ hit over the last eight years.

Depp and Cooper will again face each other over Memorial Day weekend when The Hangover Part II opens against the second session of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The debut of Kung Fu Panda 2 over the sequel-filled holiday will put Paramount in the mix too with another toon.

With three new male-led films entering the marketplace, the military actioner Battle: Los Angeles took a huge hit tumbling 59% to an estimated $14.6M for third place. Produced for $70M, the Sony release has amassed an impressive $60.6M in its first ten days and looks headed for the $80-90M range.

Matthew McConaughey’s courtroom drama The Lincoln Lawyer opened to respectable results in fourth with an estimated $13.4M playing to an older adult audience. Lionsgate’s R-rated pic averaged $4,950 from 2,707 theaters and was well-liked by critics which helped its chances at the box office given its older skew. Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, and William H. Macy also were part of the cast. The distributor won some industry press with its promotion with discount finder Groupon which allowed users to buy tickets for only $6. For the sake of box office reporting, Lionsgate used full ticket values and not the actual discounted price paid by consumers.

The alien comedy Paul debuted close behind in fifth with an estimated $13.2M from 2,802 sites for a decent $4,695 average. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Shaun of the Dead fame, the R-rated road picture also featured Seth Rogen voicing the title character. Studio research showed that the audience was 56% male and 58% 25 and older. Reviews were generally positive. Universal began the global release a month ago with its United Kingdom bow and has grossed $28.1M overseas so far.

Only $245,000 separated the estimates for Lincoln and Paul so the film could swap positions when final grosses are reported on Monday. The distributors estimated similar Saturday-to-Sunday declines with Lincoln at 35% and Paul at 32%.

The fairy tale remake Red Riding Hood fell 48% to an estimated $7.3M in its second weekend giving Warner Bros. $26M in ten days. A final total of around $40M seems likely. Matt Damon’s The Adjustment Bureau followed with an estimated $5.9M, off 49%, putting Universal at $48.8M to date.

After a weak opening, the 3D toon Mars Needs Moms enjoyed a good sophomore hold slipping only 23% to an estimated $5.3M thanks to no new competition. But the Disney film stands at just $15.4M after ten days and looks set to end its run with only $30M.

Off only 35% in ninth was the teen drama Beastly with an estimated $3.3M followed by the raunchy flick Hall Pass with an estimated $2.6M dropping 48%. Totals are $22.2M for the CBS Films pic and $39.6M for the Warner Bros. comedy.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight debuted the critically acclaimed Paul Giamatti comedy Win Win in just five theaters and grossed an estimated $154,000 for a strong $30,723 average. Focus expanded its period drama Jane Eyre from four to 26 locations and delivered an estimated $478,000 for a sturdy $18,385 average. The total stands at $731,000.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $99.8M which was down 10% from last year when Alice in Wonderland stayed in the top spot for a third time with $34.2M; but up 7% from 2009 when Knowing debuted at number one with $24.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!

twitter.com/giteshpandya

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