"Chronicle" reportedly cost $12 million, though some say this is one of those inflated numbers, and the found-footage picture from tyro filmmaker Josh Trank actually cost less. Regardless, this is a victory for the marketing department, who had to sell a non-horror shaky camcorder movie. This could be a turning point in this peculiar subgenre, which generally costs very little and generates major profit. We could start seeing found-footage romantic comedies, found-footage action films, and we're already getting a found-footage party movie with "Project X" arriving this year. It's probably a bigger comment on our narcissism as a society that we respond so distinctly to these pictures, but why would such an ideological quagmire stop Hollywood from franchising an idea like this?
Last week's number one, "The Grey," took a tumble into second. If it performs much like other Liam Neeson films, we're looking at a $50-$60 million total, which is pretty good for an R-rated January release by an inexperienced distributor, this time Open Road. The rise of Open Road, and the possible aggressiveness of CBS Films, collides intriguingly with the news of Summit and Lionsgate merging into a mini-major Voltron. While Fox might take the crown this week, there's no question that outfits like Open Road are gaining some significant muscle to challenge the big boys, and studios like Universal may not be able to keep their head above water if they have a slate like 2011's. The next time a distributor puts out a "The Dilemma" or a "Your Highness," there could be a few Open Roads, and they could be armed with more than a couple of releases like "The Grey."
"Underworld: Awakening" dropped quite a bit, though after three weeks, they have their money, more or less. It will become the highest-grossing film in the series, possibly after next weekend, and overseas it's doing far stronger business than any 'Underworld' thus far. Man, those foreigners really love their shitty 3D, don't they? "Red Tails" never truly picked up a second wind after its solid opening, though with a likely final tally around $50-$55 million, it's a nice platform for what Lucasfilm hopes is a robust, handsome DVD set. We wonder if it caught Hollywood's attention, and that maybe some black actors will be suggested for bigger action parts. We also wonder if we're giving Hollywood too much credit.
As far as other Oscar contenders, none of them have yet to pick up steam, with "The Artist" dropping further despite finally expanding into a thousand theaters. The film added $2.6 million to a $21 million tally, so the numbers aren't bad, but the Weinsteins are going to end up spending a lot of money promoting a non-blockbuster award winner. Faring better, comparatively, was leading nominee "Hugo," which only dropped 8% from last weekend, though it only grossed $2.3 million at 1,000 locations, with a significantly weaker per-screen average. Meanwhile, other award contenders like "War Horse" have already cut bait, as the Spielberg film dropped almost 700 theaters, completing week seven of release with $77 million, likely falling short of nine figures.
1. Chronicle (Fox) - $22 million
2. The Woman In Black (CBS) - $21 million
3. Wolfpunchin' USA (Open Road) - $9.5 million ($35 mil.)
4. Whale Shit (Universal) - $8.5 million
5. Underworld: Again (Sony/Screen Gems) - $5.6 million ($54 mil.)
6. Two For The Show (Lionsgate) - $5.4 million ($20 mil.)
7. Red Tails (Fox) - $4.8 million ($41 mil.)
8. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) - $4.7 million ($66 mil.)
9. Ledgeman (Summit) - $4.4 million ($15 mil.)
10. Extremely Louden & Incredibly Closen (WB) - $4 million ($27 mil.)