Box office: Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration 'Shutter Island' beats expectations
Feb. 21, '10, update: Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island has gone from potential 2009 Oscar contender to apparent 2010 dud to potential 2010 Oscar contender and box office hit – despite decidedly mixed reviews. (See further below.)
The tale of a couple of cops (DiCaprio, Ruffalo) sent to an isolated island off Boston in 1954 to track down an escaped lunatic who may or may not be a serial killer, Shutter Island was a bigger domestic box office hit than some had expected, grossing an estimated $40.2 million this weekend (Feb. 19–21) – quite a bit above the $35 million estimates released late last week.
The atmospheric thriller with supernatural elements also scored an excellent $13,440 average at 2,991 theaters. Not bad at all for an R-rated release.
Biggest Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio hit-in-the-making?
Shutter Island is now expected to become the highest-grossing Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio effort. Here are the domestic first weekend box office grosses (not adjusted for inflation) of their previous collaborations:
- Best Picture Oscar nominee Gangs of New York (2002): $9.49 million at 1,504 theaters.
Also in the cast: Daniel Day-Lewis. Cameron Diaz. Jim Broadbent. Liam Neeson. Henry Thomas.
- Best Picture Oscar nominee The Aviator (2004): $8.63 million at 1,796 theaters on its second weekend out/first weekend in wide release. On its debut weekend, The Aviator was screened at only 40 locations.
Also in the cast: Cate Blanchett (as Katharine Hepburn). Kate Beckinsale (as Ava Gardner). Gwen Stefani (as Jean Harlow). Alan Alda. Alec Baldwin.
- Best Picture Oscar winner The Departed (2006): $26.88 million at 3,017 theaters.
Also in the cast: Matt Damon. Vera Farmiga. Jack Nicholson. Mark Wahlberg. Martin Sheen.
Martin Scorsese's previous biggest weekend opener was The Departed. Leonardo DiCaprio's biggest was the Steven Spielberg crime/adventure drama Catch Me If You Can (2002) with $30.1 million.
If adjusted for inflation, however, the Dec. 1997 debut of James Cameron's Titanic, starring DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, did more business: $49.22 million at 2,674 theaters – thus remaining ahead of Shutter Island as well.
To some extent a sort of Alfred Hitchcock homage, Shutter Island opened at the Berlin Film Festival a few days ago.
In The Guardian, Andrew Pulver wasn't that thrilled with the thriller:
Shutter Island is an out-of-body pastiche to rival New York, New York, Scorsese's attempt to make a Vincente Minnelli musical. One thing Hitchcock wouldn't have done, though, is throw in sledgehammer replicas of shots from his previous movies: Shutter Island contains a shower scene (Psycho), a clambering-up-very-tall-building scene (Vertigo) and a scrambling-precariously-up-rocks scene (North by Northwest). There were probably many more, but the plot is so complicated it's tricky to keep your attention on both at the same time.
Also unimpressed was Andy Klein at Brand X, complaining that Shutter Island “is mostly enjoyable along the way … until the final 15 minutes or so pulls the rug out from under us and retroactively soils much of that enjoyment.”
The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle goes a step further, affirming that “if Martin Scorsese weren't aware of himself as a great filmmaker, he could never have made a movie as bad as Shutter Island.”
In the Los Angeles Times, Betsy Sharkey was more enthusiastic, calling Shutter Island “a divinely dark and devious brain tease of a movie in the best noir tradition with its smarter than you'd think cops, their tougher than you'd imagine cases to crack and enough nods to the classic genre for an all-night parlor game.”
Perhaps even more enthusiastic was Roger Ebert, opening his review with:
Shutter Island starts working on us with the first musical notes under the Paramount logo's mountain, even before the film starts. They're ominous and doomy. So is the film. This is Martin Scorsese's evocation of the delicious shuddering fear we feel when horror movies are about something and don't release all the tension with action scenes.
'Shutter Island' cast
Besides three-time Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, the Oscar-heavy Shutter Island cast includes the following:
Best Actor Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, 1982).
Best Actor Oscar nominee Max von Sydow (Pelle the Conqueror, 1988).
Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson (Pieces of April, 2003).
Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, 2006).
Emily Mortimer. Elias Koteas. John Carroll Lynch. Ted Levine. Robin Bartlett. Christopher Denham. Ruby Jerins.
Laeta Kalogridis adapted Shutter Island from a 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane.
'Valentine's Day' plummets
As found at Box Office Mojo, Garry Marshall's all-star Valentine's Day suffered a steep drop – 70 percent – from last weekend.
Except for Monday, Presidents Day, when it trailed Chris Columbus' adventure flick Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Valentine's Day was the top movie all through last week. This weekend, however, the romantic comedy-drama trailed Shutter Island at a distant no. 2, with $17.1 million and an okay $4,682 per site.
Made for a reported $52 million, Valentine's Day has grossed $87.4 million after only 10 days. In the extensive cast:
Emma Roberts. Carter Jenkins. Taylor Swift. Jennifer Garner. Hector Elizondo.
Best Actress Oscar winner Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, 2000).
Best Actress Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery, 1990).
Best Actress Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, 1983).
Best Actress Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, 2008).
'Avatar' suffers steepest drop to date
Avatar was the no. 3 movie with $16.1 million, a 32 percent drop – its steepest since James Cameron's environmentally conscious sci-fier opened ten weekends ago. (Last weekend's North American box office figures were stronger than usual because of the Valentine's Day and Presidents Day combo.)
Avatar is up for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. To date, it has grossed $687 million. In the cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, and three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver.
At no. 4 this weekend, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, starring Logan Lerman, raked in $15.3 million for a cume of $58.7 million.
Next in line was Joe Johnston's The Wolfman, starring Oscar winners Benicio Del Toro (Best Supporting Actor for Traffic, 2000) and Anthony Hopkins (Best Actor for The Silence of the Lambs, 1991). The horror drama brought in $9.8 million.
Lasse Hallström's romantic melodrama Dear John was no. 6 with $7.3 million. Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried star.
Dwayne Johnson's Tooth Fairy – which, like Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and The Spy Next Door invariably performs much better on weekends – did okay at no. 7, earning $4.5 million on its fifth outing. Veteran Julie Andrews (The Tamarind Seed, 10) has a key supporting role in the film.
At no. 8, Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart, toplining Best Actor Oscar odds-on favorite Jeff Bridges and Best Supporting Actress nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal, collected $3 million.
Oscar nominees Sandra Bullock and George Clooney among Top Thirteen
Rounding out the Top Thirteen were:
- The John Travolta-Jonathan Rhys Meyers flop From Paris with Love, with $2.5 million.
- The Mel Gibson crime thriller Edge of Darkness – another flop – with $2.2 million.
- The Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic drama The Book of Eli, with $1.8 million.
- The Kristen Bell-Josh Duhamel romantic comedy When in Rome, with $1.7 million.
- Best Actress Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock's The Blind Side, with $1.5 million.
- Best Actor Oscar nominee George Clooney's Up in the Air, also featuring Best Supporting Actress nominees Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga, with $1 million.
'My Name Is Khan' has third highest average, 'The Ghost Writer' has strong platform release
At 125 screens, Shah Rukh Khan's My Name Is Khan was no. 17 on the U.S. and Canada box office chart, pulling in $720,000 and $5,760 per venue – the third-highest average among the top 20 films, after Shutter Island and Avatar.
Throughout last week, the controversial Bollywood drama consistently boasted the highest per-theater average among the Top 20. Directed by Karan Johar and costarring Kajol, My Name Is Khan has grossed $3.2 million to date.
Also this weekend, at only four theaters in Los Angeles and New York, Roman Polanski's widely praised political thriller The Ghost Writer – winner of the Best Director Silver Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival – took in $179,000, or an astounding $44,750 per theater.
The Ghost Writer features the following:
Ewan McGregor. Pierce Brosnan. Olivia Williams. Kim Cattrall.
Best Actor Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom, 2001).
Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People, 1980).
Veteran Eli Wallach (Seven Thieves, The Magnificent Seven).
Jeff Burrell. James Belushi. Robert Pugh.
'Shutter Island' tops Friday
Feb. 20: Valentine's Day may lure considerably fewer filmgoers this weekend, but don't expect holdover Avatar to soar to the top of the domestic box office chart. James Cameron's sci-fi adventure is headed to its 10th successful weekend, but the big winner will be the latest Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration, Shutter Island.
Shutter Island surpassed expectations on Friday (Feb. 19), grossing an estimated $14.1 million. The creepy crime thriller scored an excellent $4,714 average at 2,991 theaters. In fact, Shutter Island is expected to become the highest-grossing Scorsese-DiCaprio effort to date.
Garry Marshall's all-star Valentine's Day was a distant no. 2 on Friday, with $5.68 million and $1,550 per screen. Chris Columbus' Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was next with $3.97 million, followed by Avatar with $3.9 million.
Rounding out the Top Six movies were Joe Johnston's The Wolfman with $2.85 million and the Channing Tatum-Amanda Seyfried romantic melodrama Dear John with $2.35 million.
Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Leonardo DiCaprio Shutter Island images: Andrew Cooper / Paramount Pictures.
Bradley Cooper Valentine's Day image: Ron Batzdorff / Warner Bros.