Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, The Vow
Tyler Perry, Gabrielle Union in Tyler Perry's Good Deeds
This Oscar weekend, Feb. 24-26, the top movie at the North American box office will undoubtedly be Act of Valor, featuring (as per the film's publicity) actual Navy SEALs in a story of red-white-and-blue courage and valor and rotten reviews (a mere 19 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics). According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's action flick easily topped Friday's box office, collecting $9.05 million (about $400,000 less than early estimates posted late last night) at 3,039 locations.
As per Deadline.com, distributor Relativity Media acquired the film for $13 million, in addition to committing itself to spending $30 million in marketing and distribution. For a $43 million investment, a likely $25-27 million in three days wouldn't be bad at all. (At Box Office Mojo, Ray Subers had been expecting a $20.5 million opening.) But that total isn't great, either, unless Act of Valor manages to have unusually sturdy legs for an action film without stars, a recognizable brand name, or positive reviews.
At no. 2, Tyler Perry's latest movie, Good Deeds, opened with $5.5 million – or nearly $1 million less than early estimates posted last night. Unless ticket sales pick up today and early tomorrow, Good Deeds will have trouble surpassing $15 million by Sunday evening.
For comparison's sake: Good Deeds' per-theater average was $2,580 at 2,132 locations; Act of Valor's was $2,978 at 3,039 locations. All things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters, the higher the per-theater average should be. In other words, Good Deeds is much weaker performer than Act of Valor. And if studio estimates are accurate, Perry's latest will also pale in comparison to the opening-weekend grosses of several of his most recent films, particularly Madea Goes to Jail ($41.03 million) and Why Did I Get Married Too ($29.28 million).
Trailing Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's Act of Valor and Tyler Perry's Good Deeds on Friday, at no. 3 the Rachel McAdams / Channing Tatum romantic drama The Vow added $3.25 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. The Vow's current total domestic gross is $96.25 million, which means it should be passing the $100 million milestone some time today – or at the very latest tomorrow afternoon.
The Vow has a rotten 26 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics, but that certainly won't stop it from becoming Rachel McAdams' biggest personal box office hit (not including the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movies and the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson comedy Wedding Crashers). The Vow is already ahead of The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) and Red Eye (2005), it's far ahead of Morning Glory (2010), and without adjusting for inflation, The Vow has already surpassed the total take of both Mean Girls (2004) and The Notebook (2004).
In number of ticket of sales, however, the two earlier releases are still ahead: Mean Girls would have collected about $109 million in 2012 dollars, while The Notebook would have grossed about $103.5 million. (That's the reason why comparative box office figures have any value only after they're adjusted for inflation: it reflects actual ticket-sales figures.)
Overseas, audiences don't seem all that enthusiastic about love and amnesia stories, as The Vow has pulled in a relatively modest $22.8 million abroad after nearly two weeks, including playdates in major territories such as Australia, Germany, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. In fact, The Vow may end up following the pattern of McAdams' previous romantic box office hit, The Notebook. Nick Cassavetes' melodrama about love and memory loss co-starring Ryan Gosling, James Garner, and Gena Rowlands, generated $81 million in grosses in North America – but a mere $34.6 million elsewhere.
Directed by Michael Sucsy, The Vow also features American Horror Story's two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky) and The Piano's Sam Neill. Even taking marketing/distribution expenses into account, this early 2012 domestic sleeper hit – budgeted at a relatively modest $30m – is in all likelihood already in the black. A rare feat these days.
Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams The Vow image: Kerry Hayes / Screen Gems
Tyler Perry / Gabrielle Union / Good Deeds photo: Quantrell Colbert / Lionsgate.