Weekend Wrap-Up
Old Timers No Match for Zombies and Super Bowl
By John Hamann
February 3, 2013

Don't drive dead.

Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino are no match for the PG-13 version of The Walking Dead.

Those collecting Social Security got walloped this weekend at the box office, as Stallone’s Bullet to the Head and the Pacino/Christopher Walken/Alan Arkin flick Stand Up Guys barely registered a blip on the box office radar. The good news this weekend is Warm Bodies, the teen romance-slash-zombie flick, without much slashing. The only real competition for Warm Bodies was the Super Bowl, and the Summit flick with Nicolas Hoult (the boy from BOP-fave About a Boy) did nicely at the box office this weekend despite it. Everything else – save Silver Linings Playbook and the 17-weekend-old Argo – lost.

Our number one film of the weekend is Warm Bodies, the strongly marketed and well-reviewed young adult flick from Summit Entertainment. Warm Bodies actually got started on Thursday night, earning about a half-million from previews. This caught my interest, as it meant that the younger generation was dialed in to Warm Bodies, despite no real above-the-title names. As BOP’s Tim Briody reported yesterday, Warm Bodies had a stellar Friday, as it grossed $8.1 million. The only thing in the way of a $20 million opening was the Super Bowl, but the savvy schedulers at Summit placed this one well, as the only demographic not interested in the Super Bowl is young females, who were the obvious marketing target for this one. In the end, Warm Bodies earned $20 million from 3,009 venues, giving it a decent venue average of $6,655.

Of course, Summit Entertainment is not new to making movies based on young adult fiction, especially those where a monster captivates the female beauty. The studio earned about $1.4 billion from the Twilight films, and has obviously learned some lessons around film quality after the Twilight franchise was continually bashed for being awful. Warm Bodies is a different kettle of fish, as its reviews were way better than I imagined. Currently at Rotten Tomatoes, the zombie romance sits at 77% fresh, with a very strong 70 positive reviews out of a possible 91. Top critics, of course, are not as kind (that crew is far, far away from young adulthood) and provided 11 negative reviews out of a possible 28. Warm Bodies also earned a solid B+ Cinemascore.

Summit got a decent director in Jonathan Levine (the under-seen 50/50), who also adapted the script from a popular novel by Isaac Marion. They then got some better talent than the Twilight kids, hiring Nicolas Hoult (Hank McCoy/Beast in X-Men: First Class) to play the lead zombie, R. Hoult is going to be “the thing" for a number of years, as his upcoming resume will have Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, Mad Max: Fury Road, an X-Men sequel, and all of them will be out in the next year and a half (and then a Warm Bodies sequel, most likely). Summit has been pushing the Warm Bodies concept for months through traditional media and the Internet, and the payoff is going to be decent. Warm Bodies cost only $30 million to make, and it should double that amount stateside. Also, don’t forget that the first Twilight film earned more overseas than it did domestically, as the original earned $200 million overseas, versus $192 million domestically.

Finishing second is Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, last weekend’s poorly reviewed number one film with Jeremy Renner. After somehow earning $19.7 million last weekend, Hansel and Gretel were thrown in the oven this weekend, as the Paramount release plunged 53% to $9.2 million. Still, with a $20 million debut, $50 million budget and strong popularity overseas, everyone should do just fine with Hansel and Gretel (including Will Ferrell, of all people). Witch Hunters has a domestic gross so far of $34.5 million, and has already earned $36 million overseas.

Silver Linings Playbook takes third position as the Weinstein Company expands the release even further, branching it out to 2,809 venues, up 168. The result is decent but not dramatic, as Silver Linings Playbook took in another $8.1 million, dropping a slight 14%. This is its sixth weekend of wide release, and 12th weekend overall. It has now earned $80.4 million domestically against a tiny budget of only $21 million. It has another three weekends to go until the Oscars are handed out, so $100 million should be in play, and could even reach that amount on Oscar weekend.

Remarkably, horror flick Mama is number four, as this mother has legs (or horror legs, at least). Now three weekends old, Mama earned another $6.7 million and dropped 49% this weekend. Mama opened to $28 million three weekends ago and then spent its second weekend in the sophomore slot with $13 million, which brings us to this weekend. As a comparison, Texas Chainsaw 3D opened to $21 million, fell to ninth in weekend two with $5.3 million, and by weekend three was in 19th with $1.3 million. Obviously, Mama is a different horror flick, and audiences are hanging in. Give Mama $58.3 million so far, against a budget of only $15 million.

Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty lands in fifth as it tries to stay relevant in the lead up to the Oscars. After earning $9.7 million last weekend, the Kathryn Bigelow flick faced off against the Super Bowl and earned $5.3 million, good for a drop of 45%. Zero Dark Thirty also fell behind Silver Linings Playbook in overall dollars this weekend, as Zero Dark Thirty has a gross so far of $77.8 million, where Silver Linings Playbook has hit $80.4 million.

Way back in sixth is Sly Stallone doing his Arnold “The Last Stand” Schwarzenegger impression. Bullet to the Head, Stallone’s first non-Expendables role in five years, flopped badly, taking in only $4.5 million from 2,404 screens. Like The Last Stand, critics didn’t hate this as much as I expected them to (48% fresh), but audiences simply didn’t show up. Warner Bros. didn’t have much faith here, given an eight month release delay, the venue count, and the fact that this is an action movie for older dudes on the same weekend as the biggest football event of the year. Sadly, this cost $55 million to make, and will be lucky to earn $15 million stateside.

Seventh goes to another action flick featuring a cast member of The Expendables that started poorly. Jason Statham's Parker opened last weekend to $7 million, and performs badly again this frame, earning only $3.2 million, a decline of 54%. Made for $30 million, Parker has a gross so far of only $12.4 million.

Eighth is Django Unchained, which continues to hold on to a top ten spot due to the awfulness released over the last month. Django earned another $3 million and fell 39%. Now out for six weekends, the $100 million-budgeted Quentin Tarantino flick has earned $151 million, becoming the biggest Weinstein pic ever, ahead of The King’s Speech. Django has also crossed the $100 million mark internationally.

Ninth is Les Miserables, as the bottom spots of the top ten are a who’s who of Oscar contenders. Les Miserables earned another $2.4 million over the weekend and has now earned $141.5 million domestically. It has also crossed the $300 million mark worldwide.

Lincoln climbs back into the top ten after being on the outside for two consecutive frames. Lincoln earned another $2.4 million and fell 38%. The domestic gross for Spielberg’s presidential drama has now reached $170.8 million, which is more than the combined grosses of his last two films, War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin.

Stand Up Guys, the new film with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin, also performed poorly, finishing 13th. It was only out to 659 venues, but a weekend gross of $1.5 million only gives this one a venue average of $2,276.

In other box office news this weekend, Warner Bros. added 300 runs to the very successful Argo, and the result is solid. Argo earned $2.1 million this weekend, up 16% from last weekend. The Ben Affleck flick has earned $120.4 million stateside, and has crossed the $70 million mark overseas. Argo was made for only $45 million.

Overall, the movie business is not great on Super Bowl weekend. The top 12 films earned only $69 million, the first sub-$70 million top 12 since mid-September 2012. A year ago over the same weekend, the box office did much better, as the top 12 found $94.7 million. Next weekend we get what appear to be two hits: Identity Thief, with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, and Side Effects, the new Steven Soderbergh flick.