In The Woman in Black, Daniel Radcliffe may not have a mega-blockbuster on the scale of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (or even the more modest Deathly Hallows: Part 1); even so, the period horror thriller starring Radcliffe in his very first post-Harry Potter role may well top the North American box office this Super Bowl weekend. According to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com, CBS Films’ The Woman in Black may reach close to $20 million by Sunday evening after grosses of approximately $8.1 million at 2,855 theaters on Friday.
The Woman in Black has a 68 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, with a 5.9 average. Those are hardly “wide acclaim” figures. Even so, the combination of the Radcliffe and a mysterious ghost have been luring the curious into movie theaters. Directed by James Watkins, The Woman in Black also features Janet McTeer (a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for Albert Nobbs), Ciarán Hinds, Shaun Dooley, David Burke, and Liz White.
Right on The Woman in Black‘s heels is Chronicle, which is expected to earn $8 million at 2,907 locations on Friday – and may still be the weekend’s no. 1 film, also with close to $20 million. As per Deadline, both films are overperforming – though The Woman in Black, if early estimates are correct, is way, way overperforming, as some pundits had been expecting its weekend gross to be close to $10 million. (For instance, at boxofficemojo.com, Ray Subers predicted that Chronicle would collect $17.5 million; The Woman in Black $10.5 million. )
Directed by Josh Trank, the sci-fi/fantasy/horror Chronicle features Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, and Bo Petersen. Chronicle has a surprisingly high rottentomatoes.com score: 85 percent among RT’s top critics. Its average is a perfectly acceptable 7.2.
Down about 52 percent at no. 3, the Liam Neeson adventure movie The Grey is expected to collect $9.4 million over the weekend after pulling in $3 million on Friday.
The Grey was followed by new entry Big Miracle, which, despite generally good reviews (79 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics) and the presence of The Office‘s John Krasinski and He’s Just Not That into You‘s Drew Barrymore, opened weakly with only $2.2 million at 2,129 sites on Friday. Big Miracle, aimed at children and those who feel obligated to take them to movies (i.e., “families”), is expected to earn only $8 million for the weekend. The presence of marine mammals notwithstanding, Big Miracle will be no Free Willy.
In Big Miracle, Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That into You, several The Office episodes) directed an extensive cast that also includes Ted Danson, Tim Blake Nelson, Kathy Baker, Vinessa Shaw, Stephen Root, Dermot Mulroney, and, in a sort of cameo, the kiss of the death at the box office, Sarah Palin.
So far, the fifth spot is up in the air. It’ll go to either Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld Awakening or Katherine Heigl’s One for the Money. Each grossed an estimated $1.7–$1.8 million on Friday. Their ranking will depend on how well they perform on the weekend proper. Deadline’s estimates has Underworld Awakening ahead by more than $1 million by Sunday evening.
The international box office, by the way, will not be affected by the Superbowl, as the vast majority of people outside North America couldn’t care less about the Big Game – that is, if they’ve ever even heard of it.
Daniel Radcliffe/The Woman in Black photo: CBS Films.
Jan. 28 update: Forget Tuesday’s Oscar nominations announcement: Liam Neeson’s action vehicle The Grey, which will likely be totally ignored when the Oscar 2013 nominations are announced, will easily top the North American box office this weekend. After taking in an estimated (and better than expected) $6.2 million on Friday (as per Deadline.com), the Joe Carnaham-directed The Grey should reach anywhere between $17–$20 million for the weekend. Also in the cast: Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, and Dallas Roberts.
The no. 2 spot will likely belong to the Julie Anne Robinson-directed Katherine Heigl comedy One for the Money, which has been overperforming possibly thanks to discount tickets offered by distributor Lionsgate. One for the Money earned an estimated $4.5 million on Friday, and may reach $12.5 million by Sunday evening. However, because of the discounted prices, Lionsgate will see its percentage of the box office (perhaps radically) reduced. One for the Money also features Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, and Debbie Reynolds.
Summit Entertainment (just acquired by Lionsgate) will face the same issue with the Sam Worthington-Elizabeth Banks’ thriller Man on a Ledge, which, at no. 5, took in an estimated $2.3 million on Friday for a paltry $6.7 million over the weekend. Discounted tickets were also offered, though clearly fewer people were interested in getting them. Asger Leth directed Man on a Ledge, which also features Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Edward Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, and Anthony Mackie.
Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld Awakening, last weekend’s no. 1 movie, was down two slots at no. 3, with $3.5 million. The sci-fi/fantasy actioner was followed by the George Lucas-executive-produced Red Tails, with $2.8 million.
Remember, those are early, rough estimates. Official studio figures for Friday will be released Saturday morning. Final weekend figures may change quite a bit before box office actuals are released on Monday.
Debbie Reynolds/Katherine Heigl/One for the Money photo: Ron Batzdorff | Lionsgate
There’s that old saying espoused by some dishonest bullshitter or other at the Motion Picture Association of America: Make good movies and you’ll see the results at the box office. When discussing 3D about a year ago, current MPAA head and former Democratic senator Chris Dodd – of SOPA and PIPA infamy – asserted that technology ain’t that crucial for a film’s success as “a movie is still going to come down to story.”
The “story” that brought tons of asses to warm up movie seats this weekend was the one found in the 3D release Underworld Awakening, the fourth installment in the critically lambasted tech-driven franchise starring Kate Beckinsale as a blow’em-up Spandexed heroine.
Showing that female heroines are box office worthy only when, like their male counterparts, they caress some big, thick, juicy weaponry, Underworld Awakening easily landed at the top of the North American box office on Friday, Jan. 20, collecting $9.4 million at 3,078 locations according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. The actioner’s per-theater average was a solid (though 3D surcharge-enhanced) $3,054. Now, it just remains to be seen whether Underworld Awakening will keep its momentum, or if it’ll begin losing steam on its second day out.
For comparison’s sake: the original Underworld movie opened with $21.75 million (approx. $28.6 million today) on its first weekend out in September 2003. It went on to gross $51.97 million in North America and $95.7 million worldwide. In January 2006, Underworld Evolution collected $26.85 million (approx. $32.5 million today) on opening weekend, cuming at $62.31 million domestically and $111.34 million worldwide. In January 2009, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (with Beckinsale in a small role) opened with $20.82 million (approx. $22 million today), eventually reaching $45.8 million in the U.S. and Canada and $91.35 million worldwide. Note: None of the previous installments in the Underworld franchise had the advantage of 3D surcharges.
Those are hardly what one would call hugely successful films. But since the Underworld movies have been budgeted around $35 million (minus rebates, foreign sales, etc.), the producing companies and North American distributor Screen Gems have been able to make quite a bit of money off of them. Having said that, I should add that those companies will be less lucky this time around, as Underworld Awakening cost a reported $70 million – not factoring in distribution and marketing costs.
Another curiosity about the Underworld movies is that they’re bigger in North America than elsewhere. As a rule of thumb, loud, violent, and braindead movies tend to do quite well at home, of course, but they usually perform much better overseas.
Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein directed the latest Underworld movie, which has a rotten 24 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ critics. In addition to Beckinsale, the Underworld Awakening cast includes Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, Sandrine Holt, and India Eisley.
Ah, as for The Artist, which has a 100 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, it earned a disappointing $636,000 at 662 locations, for a quite modest $961 per-theater average. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist stars Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Penelope Ann Miller, John Goodman, Missi Pyle, Malcolm McDowell, James Cromwell, and Uggie the Dog.
Kate Beckinsale/Underworld Awakening photo: Joe Lederer / Screen Gems / Sony Pictures
Have you had more than enough of those Resident Evil movies? If yes, then tough luck. Milla Jovovich returns in Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: Retribution, which opens in the United States next Sept. 14. This time around, besides various special effects, Jovovich will be accompanied by Kevin Durand, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Isaacs, Oded Fehr, and Sienna Guillory.
There have been four Resident Evil movies to date. The 2002 original, in addition to Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction (which showed signs of box office fatigue domestically), and Resident Evil: Afterlife. Domestic box office figures have basically remained flat (hovering around a mediocre $50 million), though the franchise continues to perform remarkably well overseas. In fact, the international market is the only reason Resident Evil movies continue to get made.
Directed by Anthony Hemingway and executive-produced by Stars Wars’ George Lucas, Red Tails opened at no. 2 with an acceptable $6 million on Friday, Jan. 20, according to studio estimates. Its per-theater average was a good $2,398.
Though certainly not a bad opening for a socially conscious period drama lacking a major star attraction – apart from Lucas’ name, that is – Red Tails’ performance seems considerably less impressive when one factors in that it cost a reported $58 million. And that movies such as Red Tails, dealing with American issues of interest to (some) Americans, don’t travel very well abroad unless they have a star of Leonardo DiCaprio- or Johnny Depp-caliber to make it more attractive to international audiences. Despite all the awards-season buzz, Tate Taylor’s The Help, for instance, has grossed a meager $35.7 million overseas to date – vs. $169.6 million in North America.
In the Red Tails cast: Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr., David Oyelowo, Ne-Yo, Method Man, and Bryan Cranston.
At no. 3, Mark Wahlberg’s Contraband added $3.7 million, down about 58 percent from a week ago. The crime thriller was followed by Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which expanded to 2,630 sites this weekend. Despite the presence of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, this psychological family melodrama centering on the September 2011 terrorist attacks drew only $3.17 million, for a mediocre $1,205 average per site. The extremely low awards-season buzz for the film surely didn’t help matters any.
Now, clearly Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld Awakening beat Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire silly. Though moderately well-received by critics (6.9 average at Rotten Tomatoes), Haywire opened with a near-dead-on-arrival $2.9 million at no. 5, averaging a paltry $1,189 at 2,439 locations. The actioner starring Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton will have trouble matching Relativity Media’s already modest $8 million opening-weekend estimate.
As per reports, the film’s low $23 million budget has been covered by foreign sales. But someone somewhere will likely be seeing red once Haywire fails to recover its production, distribution, and marketing costs in North America – and, possibly, overseas as well.
Rounding out the top twelve at the North American box office were the following:
- Beauty and the Beast 3D with $2.12 million. The Disney rerelease features voices by Robby Benson and Angela Lansbury, among others.
- Joyful Noise with $1.66 million. The “inspirational” musical comedy-drama stars Queen Latifah.
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol with $1.53 million. The fourth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise stars Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, and Jeremy Renner. Early next week, MI4 should be passing the $200 million milestone in North America.
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows with $1.3 million. Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, and Noomi Rapace star.
- The Iron Lady with $1.05 million. Phyllida Lloyd’s biopic of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher stars Meryl Streep, Golden Globe winner for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama, and Jim Broadbent.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with $1 million. David Fincher’s remake of the international Swedish hit stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
- War Horse with $846,000. Steven Spielberg’s box office disappointment – less than $70 million in the U.S. and Canada to date – stars Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close photo: François Duhamel / Warner Bros.
Ben Foster, Contraband
According to Deadline.com, this four-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend the North American box office could reach $165 million – or up about 4 percent compared to last year. Considering the disappointing returns in late 2011, a modest increase is good news indeed for the jittery Hollywood studios.
Helping things out are the Mark Wahlberg crime thriller Contraband, which earned an estimated $9 million on Friday and may reach $30 million by Monday evening. Box Office Mojo was expecting the film to bring in only $18.5 million. Anyhow, if those early estimates are correct, that’s a solid start for a movie that reportedly cost $25 million (not including marketing/distribution expenses).
A remake of Óskar Jónasson’s 2008 Icelandic hit Reykjavik-Rotterdam, Contraband was directed by Baltasar Kormákur, the original film’s star-producer. In addition to Wahlberg Contraband features Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna, Ben Foster, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, and J.K. Simmons.
Disney’s 3D-ification of the first animated feature to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination, Beauty and the Beast 3D (originally released in standard format back in 1991), was the no. 2 movie on Friday, grossing $5.5 million at 2,625 locations. The four-day weekend total should hover around $25.5 million. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise directed. Robby Benson, Paige O’Hara, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, Jo Anne Worley, and David Ogden Stiers were some of the voice actors.
At no. 3 on Friday, Todd Graff’s Joyful Noise, starring Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, and veteran Kris Kristofferson, collected $3.8 million at 2,863 theaters. Though more than some had been predicting, that’s hardly a great figure. The four-day total should reach close to $15 million, which is about $3 million above Box Office Mojo’s predictions, but will that be enough for Joyful Noise to eventually recover its modest $25 million budget at the domestic box office? Films such as Joyful Noise are strictly American fare. Alcon Entertainment produced the religious-themed musical/dramatic comedy; Warner Bros. is the distributor.
Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is fast approaching the $200 million milestone at the domestic box office. Following an estimated $3.5 million on Friday and $14.5 million by Monday evening, MI4‘s total should cume close to $190 million. Cruise’s latest will surely pass the $200 million mark by next weekend.
Last weekend’s no. 1 movie, the horror movie The Devil Inside, plummeted on its second weekend out, collecting $2.6 million on Friday and an expected $8.7 million by Monday evening. Despite the huge drop (over 70 percent), the cheaply made – but heavily marketed – horror flick will have taken in about $47 million after 10 days.
And finally, Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady should rake in close to $5.5 million by Monday evening at 802 sites. That’s near $7,000 per site over the four-day weekend, a not inconsiderable figure for a movie centering on an divisive (female) political figure, and one that was received a mostly cool reception from critics. Streep, who has earned glowing personal reviews, is a favorite contender for the Best Actress – Drama Golden Globe this Sunday. The Iron Lady rests on her steely shoulders. Phyllida Lloyd, who guided Streep in the musical blockbuster Mamma Mia!, directed.
Remember, those are early, rough estimates. Official Friday estimates will be released Saturday morning. Weekend estimates come out on Sunday. Extended weekend estimates should be out on Monday. And weekend actuals on Tuesday.
Ben Foster Contraband movie image: Universal Pictures.
Simon Quarterman, The Devil Inside
North Americans want original, high-quality stories, pundits are always reminding us. Make good, original movies and you’ll have lots of butts warming movie seats.
Well, the warm butts are back in huge numbers thanks to … The Devil Inside, a derivative, cheaply made horror flick with a 7 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ critics and an “F” CinemaScore rating from moviegoers. As per figures found at Box Office Mojo, on its first weekend in early January, The Devil Inside grossed an estimated $34.5 million. That’s nearly half of the prestigious The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s take after three weekends – including two weeks during the height of the holiday season.
Paramount clearly has found another Paranormal Activity cashcow to milk from. Give them original, quality movies and they’ll come. In large part as a result of The Devil Inside‘s box office allure and of the continuing success of the Tom Cruise sequel Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost – Protocol, the first weekend in 2012 was 24 percent ahead of last year’s, when the top movies were Joel and Ethan Coen’s True Grit, the Ben Stiller comedy Little Fockers, and the Nicolas Cage flop Season of the Witch. Also worth noting is that this weekend is only 6 percent behind (not adjusted for inflation) the first non-holiday weekend of 2010 (Jan. 8–10), when James Cameron’s Avatar was breaking 3D-assisted box office records.
Directed by William Brent Bell from a screenplay by Bell and Matthew Peterman, The Devil Inside features Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, and Suzan Crowley.
Simon Quarterman/The Devil Inside photo: Suzanne Seagrave-Houchin | Paramount Pictures.
All Hollywood needs is a good movie and North Americans will return to movie theaters. Well, The Devil Inside is apparently that “good” movie studios need: with an 8 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ critics, the horror thriller/exorcism “documentary” earned $2 million at Thursday midnight screenings at 1,400 sites. That’s considerably more than Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ $1.3 million in mid-December.
As per Deadline.com and The Hollywood Reporter, The Devil Inside is expected to collect $12–$15 million on Friday (including the Thursday midnight screenings) and $25–$30 million for the weekend. If those estimates are correct, the cheapo horror thriller at 2,285 locations will definitely top the North American box office. According to the Reporter, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol should rake in around $19 million at no. 2.
Distributed by Paramount’s Insurge label, The Devil Inside was reportedly acquired for $1 million. If it goes half as far as the Paranormal Activity movies, expect The Devil Inside and Out in a year’s time.
Directed by William Brent Bell from a screenplay by Bell and Matthew Peterman, The Devil Inside features Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, and Suzan Crowley.
Suzan Crowley/The Devil Inside photo: Toni Salabasev | Paramount Pictures.