There’s a bit of a sting to “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” finishing as the third place option for moviegoers this weekend. Still, this gross is stronger to that of the original “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” which opened at the heart of summer and played long despite being crushed by “The Dark Knight” a week after its release. That film had extraordinary legs and, despite dealing with Batman, it played in a relatively smaller marketplace, so it’s interesting to see if this film can also make it to nine figures. Worth noting, this is also Dwayne Johnson’s ninth $20 million opening, though only four of those could be considered genuine lead roles.
The numbers deflated after a massive opening day, but “Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace 3D” still enticed a whole bunch of suckers once more with a solid $20 million plus opening. George Lucas has promised/threatened that if this re-release performed strongly, 3D upgrades of the other films in the series would follow, though it’s unclear what his barometer of success is, considering the re-issue’s $15 million price tag and the fact that the theatrical re-release of the original “Star Wars” brought in much more cash fifteen years ago without inflated 3D prices. Regardless, anytime you can trick audiences into seeing the same piece of shit twice within a thirteen-year window, everything is gully. With this opening, and a coming worldwide expansion, expect 'The Phantom Menace' to see its total gross rise about the $1 billion mark. Because George Lucas doesn’t have enough goddamned billions.
Falling out of first place was “Chronicle,” which had a typical second weekend drop, though it was a slightly stronger hold for a geek-centric effort. The found/shared/disseminated footage film had a budget somewhere between $12-$15 million, so the studio is mostly still crowing over that opening, and a final tally between $55-$65 million is a massive success for a film that looked like it had the year’s most dubious ad campaign. It stayed comfortably ahead of “The Woman in Black,” which also held its own despite being a genre-leaning project. Like “Chronicle,” 'Black' came in cheap, an acquisition by CBS Films, so everyone involved has to be massively pleased that the Hammer name still carries some cachet, and that Daniel Radcliffe can be a bankable lead post-'Potter.'
“The Grey” is in the process of exiting stage right for Open Road, and it should cap its run at $55 million or so, though if Open Road keeps its promise to director Joe Carnahan, the film could return at years’ end. “Big Miracle” didn’t go anywhere in its second weekend and will probably be forgotten by next week despite hopes of a second wind. “The Descendants,” meanwhile, crossed $70 million, and could be in line for much more depending on how the Oscars pan out. Meanwhile, “Underworld: Awakening” crawled closer to the second film’s gross, which it should surpass soon, if only barely, though it is already the biggest film in the series worldwide.
In indie theaters, the biggest debut went to "Rampart," which grossed $65k at five locations. Its per-screen was not as strong, however, as Oscar-nominee "Chico And Rita," which brought in $21k on a single screen. With $27k on three screens, "In Darkness" was in between the two of them as far as debuts, though the biggest arthouse film of the week was still "A Separation," with $288k at forty-five locations, its total running to $1.6 million. Meanwhile, "We Need To Talk About Kevin" added three screens to its sixteen-theater total, registering an $80k weekend for a $5k average in its tenth week. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. Romantic Weepie Model XR783 (Sony/Screen Gems) - $41.7 million
2. Generic Action Picture Model XP906 (Universal) - $39.3 million
3. Journey 2 Live Crew: The Mysterious Island (Warner Bros.) - $27.6 million
4. Star Wars: For Masochists Only 3D (Fox) - $23 million
5. Chronicle (Fox) - $12.3 million ($40 mil.)
6. The Woman In Caucasian (CBS Films) - $10.3 million ($35 mil.)
7. The Neutral Color (Open Road) - $5 million ($43 mil.)
8. Big Fat Fuckin’ Miracle (Universal) - $3.9 million ($13 mil.)
9. George Clooney’s Hawaiian Vacation (Fox Searchlight) - $3.5 million ($71 mil.)
10. Underworld: Fighting (Song/Screen Gems) - $2.5 million ($59 mil.)