By Gabe Toro | The Playlist March 13, 2011 at 4:40AM
Get those royalties to Johan Johannsson. It was the ad campaign for “Battle: Los Angeles” that helped this starless experiment hit number one. Showcasing disaster movie footage with that doc-film veirsimilitude to Johannsson’s over worldly drone certainly had an affect on moviegoers, as the film took the top spot at the box office with a solid $36 million. The film should be a sure thing for $100+, and if it has legs, even more. Sony reports the budget figure is $70 million, which smells like bullshit, but if it’s true, this weekend is good news all around. Unless you like good movies and hate bad ones, because this movie sucks the chrome off a fender.
Holding at a solid pace was “Rango,” which lost 40% of its audience, pretty good for a peculiar ‘toon that is throwing off a number of animation fans. The film is flirting with $70 million after two weeks in release, which is slightly behind the pace of the usual mainstream kiddie fare. This was expensive stuff, so all parties involved have to hope the eccentricities and Johnny Depp’s star power translates better overseas.
Underperforming was “Red Riding Hood,” earmarked for “Twilight” status by some, ignored by most. The ad campaign seemed confused, uncertain as to whether this was a monster movie, a heaving-bosom youth romance, or a serious period piece, with all styles melding together into a genre mishmash that didn’t appeal broadly to any demographic. This opening number falls in line with the usual cheapie romantic comedy Amanda Seyfried’s been doing as of late, so it’s likely those involved aren’t exactly enamored after the promotional budget has been spent thusly.
“The Adjustment Bureau” held steady in fourth and with nearly $40 million in the till after two weeks, Universal has to be feeling good they have a movie on their slate that isn’t totally belly flopping. Still, this has no impact on anyone’s quote, lest of all Matt Damon, who remains a reliable, if not exciting, leading man for studios seeking bankable faces. As far as sci-fi, it was at least able to distance itself from the DISASTROUS opening weekend for “Mars Needs Moms.”
Studios, the audiences are letting it be known -- 3D in itself is not a draw. It can be used to pump grosses for an already-certified blockbuster. But something as niche as “Drive Angry” or as dark and completely under-engaging as “Mars Needs Moms”? This was the last of Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture pictures at Disney, and it looks like the company got out of that deal one movie too late. “Mars Needs Moms” is likely a victim of that visual scheme -- ugly aliens, loud comedy and a black-on-black visual approach was sold to audiences, and they predictably recoiled. Like all mo-cap pictures, this was pricey, so it’s likely this will be one of Disney’s biggest flops all year.
“Beastly” had an only meager drop, so the film won’t necessarily impress, but CBS Films probably has their most profitable domestic effort here. Playing to the same audience, roughly, is “Hall Pass” and “Just Go With It,” each limping to $40 and $100 million respectively. And the strong runs for “The King’s Speech” and “Gnomeo And Juliet” are most likely over. 'Gnomeo' may fail to hit that $100 million mark, but Disney couldn’t have expected this domestic success. And what to say about 'Speech'? Thing’s an Oscar winner and a global juggernaut.
In indie theaters, the year’s best per-screen was achieved by the most successful indie bow of the year in “Jane Eyre.” The moody drama tallied $182k on only four screens, averaging $45k-per. A much larger, ambitious expansion is planned for next week. Pulling in $84k at five locations was the superb “Certified Copy,” which averaged $16k per-screen. Plenty of options out there, so support your local art house.
Battle: Los Angeles (Sony) - $37 million
Rango (Paramount) - $23 million ($68 mil.)
Red Riding Hood (Warner Bros.) - $14 million
The Adjustment Bureau (Universal) - $11.5 million ($38 mil.)
Mars Needs Moms (Disney) - $7.3 million
Beastly (CBS Films) - $5.2 million ($17 mil.)
Hall Pass (Warner Bros.) - $5.1 million ($35 mil.)
Just Go With It (Sony) - $4 million ($94 mil.)
The King’s Speech (Weinstein) - $3.8 million ($129 mil.)
Gnomeo And Juliet (Disney) - $3.7 million ($89 mil.)