You have to admire the cynically commercial business strategies of cheapo distributor Screen Gems. Maybe the worst major studio subsidiary on the block, their approach has been to consistently crank out broadly-appealing four-quadrant movies working with middling directors and fairly unremarkable material. So it goes for “The Roommate,” which is the company’s second-straight Super Bowl weekend hit at $15 million, a designation granted mostly due to how cheap the film was to produce.
While Sony dollars were spent to get the word out, a sub-$10 million budget ensures happy returns for Screen Gems, which debuted “Dear John” to double these numbers last year. Not that anyone cares: this project had “smash and grab” written all over it. Overly-familiar premise that borderlines on lawsuit-worthy, cheap young talent, and tactical release date (the boys are at home watching foosball) combined to give Screen Gems the nation’s number one movie, if only for a week.
Landing at number two was the James Cameron-produced “Sanctum,” which could not find the narrative in ads and posters. Most theater-goers were likely confused by Cameron’s involvement/non-involvement, and some of the footage made the starless effort resemble one of Cameron’s early IMAX documentaries. “Sanctum” wasn’t expensive, but you don’t expect less than $10 million with the inflated 3D prices. The R-rating means this reaches $25 million domestic, but don’t worry - Ioan Gruffudd is HUGE in Korea.
Holding on strong was “No Strings Attached,” which is performing appropriate to its genre and the lack of direct competition. Dumb R-rated date movie in a PG-13-saturated, Oscar-fied atmosphere? It’s no surprise the picture could land at around $75 million domestic. Of course, the fact that it may be 2011’s first genuine hit (“The Green Hornet” was simply too expensive) speaks volumes as to how, contrary to the popular discussion topic amongst box office prognosticators, the early months of the year remain a dumping ground, because there is nothing in the early 2011 film schedule a discerning film-goer would have really wanted to see.
Again, “The King’s Speech” had the lowest audience drop in the top ten. The film is racing to $100 million just as Oscar ballots are being handed out, fairly convenient for The Weinstein Company, as the picture has the legs to possibly keep playing after the actual ceremony. They really played this thing like a harp from hell. The picture lapped “The Green Hornet,” though with $87 million in the till, the superhero comedy could speed towards a round $100 million tally.
Last week’s number one, “The Rite,” took the customary second weekend plunge for early year horror pictures. It barely outpaced “The Mechanic,” collecting a $20 million two-week total, an average pace for a Jason Statham picture. Both movies are reaching the low end of what their audience should be, but when you drop a mid-bugeted effort in January, this is often what you get.
“True Grit” is likely winding down its stellar run, and it might not reach the final “Dances With Wolves” number ($184 million) to become the highest-grossing western of all time. Of course, this means nothing, as most westerns were released before cinema became Blockbusters All The Time, so inflation dictates that every western coming out should challenge to become the most “successful” western ever. But it’s a title some people still hold stock in, so whatever. “True Grit,” second-highest-grossing western of all-time. At #9, “The Dilemma” is finishing up its under-attended run, while “Black Swan” is slowly making its way towards $100 million.
It was quiet on the limited release front, though “Biutiful” expanded to 177 locations, collecting a so-so $650k. “Another Year” also expanded into 236 engagements, generating its best weekend with $502k. In indie debuts, it was one indie theater for both “Cold Weather” and “Waiting For Forever,” which generated $15k and $10k respectively. Support your local arthouse, boys and girls.
1. Single White Female 2: The College Years (Sony) - $15.6 million
2. Sanctum (Universal) - $9.2 million
3. No Strings Attached (Paramount) - $8.4 million ($52 mil.)
4. The King’s Beast (Weinstein) - $8.3 million ($84 mil.)
5. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony) - $6.1 million ($87 mil.)
6. The Rite Stuff (WB) - $5.6 million ($24 mil.)
7. The Mechanic (CBS) - $5.4 million ($20 mil.)
8. True Grit (Paramount) - $4.8 million ($155 mil.)
9. The Dilemma (Universal) - $3.4 million ($46 mil.)
10. Black Swan (Fox) - $3.4 million ($95 mil.)