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Weekend Box Office: 'Gnomeo' Leapfrogs 'Hall Pass,' Audiences Not 'Angry' Enough To 'Drive'

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist February 27, 2011 at 5:51AM

Rats off to ya, “Gnomeo And Juliet.” After two weeks in release, the ‘toon has vaulted into first place, generating $14 million this weekend on its way to a 3D-boosted $100 million+ gross. The Disney Touchstone release, populated almost entirely by British actors, is something of a surprise hit, since it looked like a throwaway purchase along the lines of “Planet 51” or “Hoodwinked.” Consider this something of an anomaly: who knew animated lawn gnomes would generate such business?
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Rats off to ya, “Gnomeo And Juliet.” After two weeks in release, the ‘toon has vaulted into first place, generating $14 million this weekend on its way to a 3D-boosted $100 million+ gross. The Disney Touchstone release, populated almost entirely by British actors, is something of a surprise hit, since it looked like a throwaway purchase along the lines of “Planet 51” or “Hoodwinked.” Consider this something of an anomaly: who knew animated lawn gnomes would generate such business?

Hall Pass” looked like more of a dump for New Line, as the label is slowly being phased out by parent company Warner Bros. The Farrelly Brothers did similar numbers four years ago for the R-rated Ben Stiller picture “The Heartbreak Kid” so this likely speaks to their declining brand. The days of “There’s Something About Mary” where they could get their names above the title are long gone.

The comedy outdistanced “Unknown,” which had a steeper second weekend decline than Liam Neeson’s similar “Taken.” Still, these are strong numbers for an offseason action picture, and, hopefully, it should lead to funding for Neeson’s planned team-up with “I Saw The Devil” director Kim Ji-Woon, “The Last Stand.” Because seriously, what kind of world is this that Shawn Levy can score $100 million budgets and the guy behind “The Good The Bad And The Weird” struggles to get funding?

Good news for Adam Sandler, bad news for Dreamworks: “Just Go With It” held up extremely well in weekend three despite being an absolutely appalling piece of shit, and should cross $100 million with ease. It surpassed the tepid numbers for “I Am Number Four,” which might crest $50-$60 million, a far cry from what you’d expect a franchise-starter produced by Michael Bay to gross.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” earned a second life with a director’s cut playing to fans this weekend, with the likelihood of pushing past the “Hannah Montana” movie in the next couple days. Still pulling in audiences was “The King’s Speech,” which added 300 theaters and saw a slight bump in business, which should only increase following tonight’s Oscar broadcast. Losing nearly 60% of its audience, meanwhile, was “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son,” which should land somewhere around recent Martin Lawrence earners, suggesting that his future is in mid-to-low profile supporting roles. Or, perhaps, ornamental horticulture. Social work? Anything but movies, really.

The most surprising news of the weekend might be the absolutely AWFUL numbers pulled in by “Drive Angry 3D.” Summit spent some money on the film, and a solid amount on ads, including a juicy Super Bowl spot, but marketing just could not find the plot in commercials, and could not locate the potential audience for a 3D grind house throwback. These are the worst numbers ever for a 3D film opening on over 2000 screens, which is surprising considering the involvement of Nicolas Cage.

Which begs the question: is Nicolas Cage an A-List star any longer? “Knowing” may be Cage’s last semi-respectable hit ($184 million globally). Since then, however, the successes have not been strong, but that’s only relative to cost, as “Kick-Ass” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” were underperformers compared to cost, but still met several eyeballs with $96 million and $215 million global grosses respectively. Even “Season of the Witch” grabbed a decent $72 million worldwide, which isn’t stellar compared to its mid-range budget, but still solid considering the weak release date and word-of-mouth.

There’s the sense some viewers are aware that Cage’s presence means off-product, however, which bodes poorly considering his coming projects, well, are. That includes yet another vigilante drama in “The Hungry Rabbit Jumps,” the Nu Image thriller “Trespass” and a “Ghost Rider” sequel for which many weren’t exactly clamoring. Cage, still struggling to manage massive IRS debt, remains dedicated to simply working until he sees a financial light at the end of the tunnel, but people declaring Cage’s star appeal dead after this remarkably poor showing neglect the likelihood that Cage, still a genuinely real actor, is only one Oscar-nominated role (or a “National Treasure” sequel) away from returning to audiences’ good graces.

Samuel Goldwyn was able to get Christian drama "The Grace Card" in 352 theaters, and the film pulled in a cool million, which isn't bad for a low profile Louis Gossett Jr. indie directed by a former optometrist. Meanwhile, scoring the week's strongest per-screen average was the drama "Of Gods And Men," which pulled in over $22k on three screens. Support your local arthouse, boys and girls.

1. Gnomeo And Juliet (Disney) - $14.2 million ($75 mil.)
2. Hall Pass (Warner Bros.) - $13.4 million
3. Unknown (Warner Bros.) - $12.4 million ($48 mil.)
4. Just Go With It (Sony) - $11.3 million ($79 mil.)
5. I Am Number Four (Disney/Dreamworks) - $11 million ($38 mil.)
6. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D (Paramount) - $9.2 million ($63 mil.)
7. The King's Speech (Weinstein) - $7.6 million ($114 mil.)
8. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (Fox) - $7.6 million ($29 mil.)
9. Drive Angry 3D (Summit) - $5.1 million
10. The Roommate (Sony/Screen Gems) - $2 million ($36 mil.)

This article is related to: Films, Actors, Unknown, Just Go With It, Hall Pass, Nicolas Cage, Liam Neeson, Adam Sandler


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