Soft Openers Slow Box Office Roll
By John Hamann
February 19, 2012
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D falls to sixth after debuting in fourth last weekend with $22 million. Reality came knocking this weekend, as audiences remembered that these retreads suck in any dimension. This weekend the re-release falls, earning only $7.9 million, and dropping an awesome 65%. Still, the Fox release has earned $33.7 million since opening last weekend, likely at least double what the conversion cost.
Seventh spot goes to Chronicle, former champ from a few weeks back. After a 45% drop last weekend, Chronicle continues that trend this weekend – its third. The found footage flick earned $7.5 million and and dropped 38% compared to last weekend's take of $12.1 million. Made by Fox for the amount it earned in its second weekend ($12 million), this will be an extremely profitable entry. It has brought in $51 million domestically, and has already more than $25 million overseas.
The Woman in Black is eighth, but it's really the jewel in the top ten. The Woman in Black may have earned only $6.6 million this weekend, but even that small amount doubles the cost of what CBS Films paid to pick it up ($3 million). It dropped 34% compared to last weekend, and has a domestic total so far of $45.2 million. It opened last weekend in the UK, where it picked up another $5 million from only 412 theatres. The Woman in Black is going to tear it up overseas, just as it has in North America.
The Secret World of Arrietty may finish ninth this weekend, but can pride itself for a strong opening compared to its immediate brethren, and the fact that it is simply a wonderful film. The 92% fresh Studio Ghibli release earned $6.4 million over its opening frame – from only 1,522 locations. It managed a venue average of $4,189. Ponyo, Studio Ghibli's last film, opened in the US to $3.6 million (from 927 theatres) – it went on to earn over $200 million worldwide. Howl's Moving Castle never eclipsed $1 million over any weekend in North America, but had a worldwide take of $235 million. Studio Ghibli's other North American releases suffered the same fate as Howl's Moving Castle, so it is good to see some growth from Ponyo and The Secret World of Arietty. These films are simply amazing, and are literally great for the whole family.
Finally in tenth this weekend is The Grey, Liam Neeson's film that proves people will come out to see him kick anyone or anything's ass. Despite being a movie about man vs. nature, The Grey took in another $3 million, falling 40%. IWithout Neeson at the center of the film, there is no way it would have earned the $47.9 million it has so far. That number effectively totals the production budget, and it has only barely gotten started at the international box office.
Overall this weekend, the box office feels like it stands on a precipice, looking back on several months of solid returns, and looking forward to only a few sure things. The top 12 films this weekend brought in a not bad $143.9 million, well back of last weekend's $173 million top 12. Next weekend is a crap shoot. We know that Tyler Perry's Good Deeds will be strong, as will Wanderlust with Jennifer Aniston and our idiot brother, Paul Rudd. It's the two others that are questionable: Act of Valor, starring Navy Seals, and Summit Entertainment's Gone, with Amanda Seyfried.