Weekend Box Office: Chronicle And Woman In Black Overperform Individually, Outperform The Rest Of Top 10

As far back as late 2010, I had a good idea that 2012 was going to be a banner year for the movie industry. With The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises forthcoming in summer 2012, I surmised that those two films alone could account for a fifth of the entire box office for the calendar year. But never would I suspect that the movie business would get off to such a strong start in January with the likes of The Devil Inside, Contraband, and Underworld: Awakening. One of those films – Underworld – I knew would do well, bringing out the genrehounds who enjoyed the first two installments in the franchise and accepted the third as a one-off prequel.

Whenever Super Bowl Weekend rolls around, Hollywood likes to endorse counterprogramming by positioning films that appeal to a different demographic other than men. In years past, movies like He’s Just Not That Into You and Dear John opening north of $25 million apiece. This year Hollywood decided to go for females and the youth demo specifically with an old-fashioned ghost story and a fresh take on the found-footage phenomenon. Both The Woman in Black and Chronicle were low-budgeted releases that had some crossover appeal.

Chronicle‘s reported budget is around $12 million – a generous figure, as some say the number is lower than reported. Fitting in the subgenre of found-footage cinema, Josh Trank’s directorial debut is a novel approach at what the genre has become (littered with haggard spookfests involving paranormal activity or exorcisms). The film is sort of a lightweight X-Men Afterschool Special on the harmful effects of Telekinesis, but its opening weekend success could open a floodgate of different types of found-footage films. Imagine a romantic comedy in vein of High Fidelity – as a mix tape where the film is littered with to the camera tell-alls and abrupt cuts, showing that it was put together by a novice editor.

Finishing strong but placing second was The Woman in Black starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. As his first big test after the success of the Harry Potter series, Radcliffe performed admirably. Women were definitely interested to see how he would do without magic spells, and he knocked it out of the park in a big way. For CBS Films, the Black‘s $21 million weekend is its biggest opening thus far, besting the J.Lo comedy The Back-Up Plan. Next the mini distributor will look to cast a wider net to attract even more females with its romantic comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen in March.

Last week’s number one, The Grey was pushed into third. Adding another $9.5 million to push its two-week total to $35 million, Liam Neeson’s survivalist tale is on its way to a $50-$60 million domestic total. That’s pretty much what’s to be expected for an R-rated release opening in January. But it begs the question if there’s a little shift going on with minis like CBS Films and Open Road carving its own niche of success, especially knowing that Summit and Lionsgate will become one in the near future.

Taking in a showing over the weekend, the crowd was mostly dead for Big Miracle. And by “dead,” I mean there weren’t enough people packing the auditorium. Of the three newcomers in the top ten, its numbers were the smallest. Universal will need to up the advertising costs if it is to recoup the estimated $40 million spent producing it for family viewing. It did just enough to stay above the decline known as One for the Money with Katherine Heigl. Lionsgate may have been hoping to see numbers similar to last year’s Lincoln Lawyer, but the studio may be better off letting the movie franchise potential lapse and look to make it into a TV series that can be played during the off seasons of Psych and White Collar on USA.

Underworld: Awakening took a tumble this week, but after three weeks it has its money and Sony Pictures will look to the international market to line its pockets even more. It’s already equaled the domestic gross and should only increase exponentially in the coming weeks when it enters new markets. Red Tails had such a strong opening a few weeks ago, but that seems to have stalled now. It should break even before it leaves theaters, and should perform even better on home video. If given the right attention, the DVD and Blu-ray releases could be a nice history lesson package about the Tuskegee Airmen.

Of the Oscar nominees still in theatrical release, Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants has managed to maintain its numbers, only losing a quarter of its audience from last week to this week, to take its 12-week total to $65 million. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close did just enough to better Mark Wahlberg’s Contraband to be in the top ten discussion. And it will probably be the last we ever talk about EL&IC being in the top ten.

The Weinstein Company finally expanded The Artist to a thousand screens, but the 11-time Oscar nominated release could only muster $2.6 million. A better performer overall was Hugo, but it only grossed $2.3 million. Considering the budgets between the two, The Artist will be seen as the bigger success, because Martin Scorsese’s first 3D feature was such an expense for Paramount.

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Source: Box Office Mojo