Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio scored the biggest openings of their careers with the psychological thriller Shutter Island, the fourth teaming between the two men, which easily led the North American box office. With no other films debuting in wide release, the rest of the top ten was filled with holdovers, most of which dropped by more than 50% from last weekend’s record holiday session. The top ten films beat out year-ago levels, however the Top 20 fell behind last year’s performance due to the current marketplace’s lack of depth.
Moviegoers spent the weekend with the criminally insane as the mystery thriller Shutter Island debuted at number one with an estimated $40.2M. Paramount launched the R-rated film in 2,991 theaters and averaged a strong $13,440 per site. Previous bests for the men were $26.9M for the director’s The Departed and $30.1M for the actor’s Catch Me If You Can. Last August, the studio surprised the industry by moving Shutter from October 2 (the same slot that worked wonders for Departed) to this current weekend. While the date change took the film out of this winter’s awards season, it allowed the pic to squeeze more value from its marketing materials. Plus the studio was able to run a very well-received TV spot during the Super Bowl two weeks ago to help heighten excitement.
Shutter Island scored the ninth biggest opening in February and the fourth best for an R-rated film. It was also the second highest for 2010 behind just Valentine’s Day from last weekend. Studio research showed that the $75M production played evenly among males and females as well as with those over and under 25. Reviews were good overall but critics were not ecstatic. Scorsese’s films have typically been more artsy and have almost always debuted to less than $12M from more narrow releases. Shutter was a more commercial vehicle and was sold as a mainstream thriller from an Oscar-winning filmmaker which was all that was needed to convince ticket buyers.
After a huge top spot debut, the romantic comedy Valentine’s Day couldn’t score a second date with audiences as the Warner Bros. release tumbled by a disturbing 70% to an estimated $17.2M. But it was still a good showing for a film of its type in the sophomore frame and helped to boost the ten-day tally to a solid $87.4M. Much of the decline was due to Sunday’s take which fell sharply from last Sunday which was Valentine’s Day. Compared to last weekend’s daily grosses, the PG-13 film dropped 61% on Friday, 60% on Saturday, but a steep 82% on Sunday. A final tally of $120-130M seems likely.
The unstoppable Na’vi pic Avatar climbed one spot to third with an estimated $16.1M, off only 32%, boosting the record-shattering total to $687.8M. James Cameron is on track to score the first-ever $700M-grossing blockbuster by next Sunday, the last day of February.
Fox claimed fourth place too with the fantasy adventure Percy Jackson & The Olympians which dropped 51% to an estimated $15.3M in its second round. The PG-rated effects pic has banked $58.8M in ten days and has a shot at breaking the $100M mark by the end of its run. Universal’s monster flick The Wolfman suffered a 69% fall to an estimated $9.8M and lifted its cume to $50.3M in ten days. Produced for over $100M, the R-rated thriller should finish with around $70M.
Former chart-topper Dear John ranked sixth with an estimated $7.3M, off 55%, giving Sony $66M to date. Playing to a slightly different audience, The Tooth Fairy slipped only 26% to an estimated $4.5M for a $49.9M sum for Fox.
The studio’s fourth title in the top ten came from Fox Searchlight’s Oscar contender Crazy Heart which dipped only 29% to an estimated $3M for a $21.6M total thus far. John Travolta’s From Paris With Love dropped 55% to an estimated $2.5M while Mel Gibson’s Edge of Darkness fell 54% to an estimated $2.2M. Cumes stand at $21.2M and $40.3M, respectively.
It was an eventful weekend for director Roman Polanski who is currently under house arrest in Switzerland. His newest film The Ghost Writer won him the Silver Lion award for best director at the Berlin International Film Festival and also generated a muscular platform launch in the United States with an estimated $179,000 from just four theaters for a sizzling $44,750 average. Bowing in only two locations a piece in New York and Los Angeles, Summit’s PG-13 film starring Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Kim Cattrall, and Tom Wilkinson earned strong reviews but just a moderate B+ CinemaScore from ticket buyers. Ghost expands into ten more markets on Friday as it continues to roll out across the country.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $118.1M which was up 5% from last year when Madea Goes To Jail opened in the top spot with $41M; and up 39% from 2008 when Vantage Point debuted at number one with $22.9M.