Chronicle Super Over Super Bowl Weekend
By John Hamann
February 5, 2012
Welcome to Super Bowl weekend at movie theatres – usually a weekend where bad horror films and worse chick flicks are hoisted (or dumped) upon the masses, in the hopes of turning a bad moviegoing weekend into a small profit. This year things are different, as not only do we have three well-reviewed new releases to ponder, but two of them had solid earnings at the box office. Out this weekend are Chronicle, another in the sci-fi found-footage genre, a la Cloverfield, The Woman In Black, starring an aging, bearded and possibly drunk Harry Potter, and Big Miracle, a free-the-whale movie starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski.
Our number one film of the weekend is really the Super Bowl, as the big event – this year starring Madonna – basically rubs out a movie day, taking down the Sunday number even more than usual. Movies released over Super Bowl weekend are usually bad, and not aimed at a wide target. Taken is the shining example of a movie released over Super Bowl weekend, as it earned $24.7 million over its opening frame. Taken had a 2.6 internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross). It earned $9.4 million on its Friday, and was heading toward a really big weekend, as its Saturday number came in 24% higher at $11.7 million. But then came Super Bowl Sunday, where Taken was off 69%, earning $3.6 million. Had the Sunday number not been so bad (The Grey was only off 39% from Saturday-to-Sunday), Taken may have earned a 3.0 multiplier, and taken in $28.2 million over that weekend. Had it earned that much, it might have added $20 million to its domestic total.
Our real number one movie of the weekend is Chronicle, a well-thought out and well-received piece of film from those at Davis Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. A found-footage type film, Chronicle drew teenagers en masse and parlayed a viral marketing campaign into a stellar weekend gross of $22 million. Over any other weekend, Chronicle would make less of a splash, but considering this is a big football weekend, the film blew apart expectations for an opening between $10 and $15 million, and it didn't rely on the crutch of 3D to up its opening weekend earnings. Chronicle opened at only 2,907 venues, which gives it a solid average of $7,598. It had an internal multiplier of 2.52, which was expected to be at the low end due to the Super Bowl. Because it's a found-footage type of film and starred three teenagers few had heard of before, Fox spent only $12 million to make this one, which means they will likely see real profit by the end of next weekend.
Why did this one work? Good movies get people out, especially when there's a catchy story involved with lots of eye candy and money shots. Simply put, three teenagers find something that gives them super-human powers, but one goes bad, and flying buses ensue. So, what we basically have is a comic book movie - one that is sharply made, if you can handle that shaky-cam kind of style. Critics certainly didn't mind, as 98 out of a possible 116 found something to like here, giving Chronicle an 84% fresh rating, one of the better scores received this year. It earned a B Cinemascore. Chronicle also had some ingenious marketing plays working for it as well. Fox hired a company to fly what looked like three people over New York last week to create awareness for the film, amongst other things.