Originally conceived as a D.J. Caruso project (whatever happened to that guy, asked no one), “Jack The Giant Killer,” as it was originally known, was meant to be a darker retelling of the popular fantasy. Somewhere along the line, Singer’s involvement led to a more traditional, family-friendly approach. The problem was that some people in the production didn’t get the memo, resulting in a film that feels commercially schizophrenic. There’s the colorful high adventure save-the-princess element for the kids, but there's also gnarly giant monsters, CG creations with cartoonish appearances who nonetheless engaged in some heavily PG-13 medieval throw downs. Classic tweener problem: too violent for the kiddies, too ridiculous for the teens, and with nothing of interest to adults.
The plus side is that star Hoult has had two straight $20 million plus opening weekends within a month, the last project being “Warm Bodies.” He doesn’t deserve to be the fall guy for this, even if these piddling 'Jack' numbers were boosted by 3D and IMAX prices. Though perhaps Warner Bros. might want to distance themselves from Singer: after this and “Superman Returns,” that’s two straight Legendary Films projects with Singer that have underperformed at the studio. Singer’s lucky to have the safety parachute that is “X-Men”: he’s one more mismanaged budget away from falling back into the indie world. And after this year‘s “Gangster Squad,“ “Bullet To The Head” and “Beautiful Creatures,” Warner Bros. might have to rethink some of their upcoming ad campaigns, particularly as 'Jack' prepares to be pummeled by next weekend’s “Oz The Great And Powerful.”
“21 And Over” was being released on the exact same weekend as last year’s “Project X” but lightning didn’t strike twice, and this opening is less than half of that found footage hit. You can only boast the same associations before it starts becoming nakedly opportunistic -- “Project X” was pushed as being produced by Todd Phillips, director of “The Hangover.” “21 And Over” not only pulled a similar stunt, as it was written and directed by the original “The Hangover” writers, but it also very much looked like “Hangover Jr.” with its plot focused on a night of drunken debauchery centered around a missing friend. Perhaps too many people thought the movie was supposed to be called “Jeff Chang,” which was gratuitously repeated throughout the ads to the point of obscuring the film’s generic title.
Producing modest second weekend results was “Snitch,” which held steady after a quiet debut. The Dwayne Johnson thriller only cost $14 million, and a small ad budget suggests this is going to turn a modest profit. Generic star-centric vehicles like this also have solid appeal on DVD, and overseas, Johnson’s “Fast Five” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” both had warmer receptions than they did stateside. In other words, as modest as the final domestic gross may be (likely $40 million or so), this cements Johnson as a legit A-List presence, a status which should only be confirmed by the upcoming “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”
Most of the Oscar-nominated films had run their course, so there weren’t any major bumps to be had by the films honored during last week’s ceremony. “Silver Linings Playbook” is the one film in that group still in the widest release, and it held steady just as it has the last few weeks, a feat that’s pretty unprecedented; the last wide-release film to hold steady like this with either weekend growths or less-than-10% drops is probably... what, “Titanic”? 'Playbook' won’t reach those heights, but there’s a good chance it could become the highest-grossing Best Picture release stateside if it continues this pattern for a few more weeks -- “Lincoln” is a considerable distance ahead, however. Also receiving a 49% boost was “Life of Pi” with $2.4 million outside of the top ten, bringing its domestic total to $117 million, helping the hit inch closer to $600 million worldwide. And “Argo” is on DVD already, but somehow it still pulled in $2.1 million at 985 locations, bringing the domestic total to $133 million.
1. Jack The Profit Slayer (Warner Bros.) - $28 million
2. Identity Thief (Universal) - $9.7 million ($107 mil.)
3. Lil’ Hangover (Relativity) - $9 million
4. We Left Out One Exorcism (CBS Films) - $8 million
5. Snitch (Lionsgate/Summit) - $7.7 million ($24.4 mil.)
6. Safe Haven (Relativity) - $6.3 million ($57 mil.)
7. Escape From Planet Earth (The Weinstein Company) - $6.2 million ($43.2 mil.)
8. Silly Whining Playbook (The Weinstein Company) - $5.9 million ($115.5 mil.)
9. A Good Day To Hold Hands And Say Nice Things About Each Other (Fox) - $4.5 million ($59.6 mil.)
10. Dark Skies (The Weinstein Company/Dimension) - $3.5 million ($13.4 mil.)