Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Marty Scorsese and Shutter Island Have a Big Weekend

Whew. It looks like the streak of romance-related films dominating the box office ends at two as Shutter Island vaults over Dear John and Valentine’s Day in its first weekend of release to claim the top spot. Divided with critics – some have panned it while others defend it, saying that Scorsese’s worst is better than most other films – Island took home a whopping $40 million. It was the best opening Scorsese has ever had. Now bear in mind this is three-and-a-half years after The Departed which was headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson. That film made $26.8 million its first weekend. It went on to make $290 million worldwide.

Financially speaking, the filmmaker has seen his success grow by collaborating with DiCaprio. Their latest release makes four pairings, and they are contemplating at least two more (Sinatra and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt). Prior to the pairing, Scorsese’s biggest film was a remake of the thriller Cape Fear, a film that has been drawing comparisons to Shutter Island due to the subject matter. Originally, Island was supposed to open last October, but was pushed back to a February 19th release (coincidentally, the same release date of The Silence of the Lambs back in 1991). The February release was perfect as the film was the only major release for the weekend. Paramount spent plenty of ad dollars to ensure that people want to go out and see a creepy thriller set in the northeast.

Seeing a 69.5% drop this weekend was Valentine’s Day. It went from a $56 million opening to bring in just $17.2 million in its second weekend. This was surely expected by the suits at New Line as the romantic day is but a blip on the radar screen of what is a calendar year. The same is likely to occur when the ensemble rom-com New Year’s Eve opens in 2011. Not faring any better this weekend was Universal’s The Wolfman which dropped from second place to fifth, making only $9.8 million in the process. The kicker is that it actually gained a screen this weekend. Yes, a single screen. That gross pretty much seals the deal that Universal has its first box office bomb of 2010.

Stuck in between the overbloated ensemble comedy and the overbloated gorefest was Avatar sitting in third at $16.1 million in its tenth week at the box office. Its total domestic take now stands at $688 million. It should have no trouble surpassing $700 million by next week, and who knows how well it will perform if it gets the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year. The only other film in the top 10 that has been around for ten weeks is Crazy Heart. But it was a late arrival at breaking into the top 10; it started to see its theater count grow this month after Jeff Bridges got a Golden Globe for his acting.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief drops from third to fourth this weekend making a respectable $15.3 million – only a 51% percent drop in attendance. Continuing to impress is the other family film currently in major release, The Tooth Fairy. It finished in seventh place with $4.5 million. It has currently grossed $81.6 million worldwide. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and family comedies is a pairing that works. Much to the delight of Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox.

The best performer of the weekend (as earnings per theater screen go) was Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. Having a slow roll out, the $45 million film opened on four screens to the tune of $179,000. That’s $45,000 per screen. Having only seen a trailer and not the finished product as of yet, it’ll be interesting to see if Polanski’s latest thriller will appeal to American audiences. Especially now that he’s in the news again for all the wrong reasons.

And as far as percentage points go, The Road had the greatest change with a +168.1%. This is because the film went from playing on 41 screens to playing on 111. One last hurrah for this Weinstein Company release, I guess.

1. Shutter Island – $40.2 million ($40.2. mil.)
2. Valentine’s Day – $17.2 million ($87.4 mil.)
3. Avatar – $16.1 million ($688 mil.)
4. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – $15.3 million ($58.8 mil.)
5. The Wolfman – $9.8 million ($50.3 mil.)
6. Dear John – $7.3 million ($66 mil.)
7. Tooth Fairy – $4.5 million ($49.9 mil.)
8. Crazy Heart – $3 million ($21.6 mil.)
9. From Paris with Love – $2.5 million ($21 .2 mil.)
10. Edge of Darkness – $2.2 million ($40.3 mil.)

Source: Box Office Mojo

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