By Brian Fuson | Thompson on Hollywood February 26, 2012 at 1:06PM
As expected, Relativity’s “Act of Valor” took honors in the top spot this weekend. The action thriller, which deployed about a dozen active-duty Navy SEALs in the cast, hit the box office beach with an estimated $24.7 million in tow. Overall, the box office continued on the upswing in North America, with the estimated weekend total for all films was up a robust 24% from the comparable frame a year ago. So far there hasn’t been one down weekend. But there have been 25 wide releases this year to date against just 17 at this point in 2011.
Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's “Valor” takes an elite team of Navy SEALs on a covert mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent. “Valor” was produced by Bandidto Bros. for around $12 million and scooped up by Relativity Media for around $13 million. In Canada, distribution duties were handled by Alliance.
The debut for the R-rated “Valor” was stronger than most projections heading into the weekend; the film generated a sterling “A” CinemaScore, which means positive word of mouth should help give the picture legs down the stretch, even though most critics didn’t care for the film. Not surprisingly the audience was mostly male, comprising 71%, with 60% of the overall audience 25 years of age and over. The ethnic breakdown was mixed: 63% Caucasian, 13% African-American, 10% Latino, and 7% Asian.
Relativity spent heavily on a broad marketing campaign that used grass roots outreaches, tie-ins with military themed video game Battlefield 3 from EA, brewer MillerCoors, and several Super Bowl spots.
Arriving in the second spot was Lionsgate's “Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds” with an estimated $16 million, which marked the second lowest opening ever for a Tyler Perry film, behind “Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls,” which opened in 2007 to $13.1 million during a four-day holiday weekend, accumulating $18.8 million since its release the previous Wednesday. “Deeds” is a romantic comedy drama - sans Madea, his most popular character – about a businessman who is knocked out of his routine life when he meets Linsey, a single mother who works for the crew that cleans his office building.
Perry wrote and directed the film starring Thandie Newton, Tyler Perry, Gabrielle Union, Rebecca Romijn and Jamie Kennedy. Like “Valor,” “Deeds” wasn’t liked by the critics but scored a shining “A” with CinemaScore, which means audiences should spreading good word, even though ultimate boxoffice prospects are limited due to its low opening numbers.
The weekend’s other two wide releases both enjoyed dismal debuts, arriving in eighth and ninth place.
Universal’s “Wanderlust,” an R-rated comedy about an unemployed Manhattan couple (Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd) who experiment with living on a rural commune where free love is the rule, grossed an austere $6.6 million to place eighth. Judd Apatow produced the David Wain film which earned mixed reviews; audiences gave the film a “B-“ CinemaScore, while females comprised 57% of attendees; 61% were over 30. Relativity was a partner in the film; with a budget of $30 million, its long term prospects look to be in the red.
Summit’s “Gone” was in ninth with a bleak $5 million. The thriller scored poor reviews and a weak “C+” CinemaScore, which means a short stay in theaters. “Gone” stars Amanda Seyfried as a woman trying to track down a serial killer who kidnapped her two years earlier. The actress is on a losing streak; "In Time" and "Red Riding Hood" were also box office disappointments. Women made up 64% of the audience, with 61% 18 years and older. Heitor Dhalia directed the PG-13 rated thriller, which was coproduced with Lakeshore Entertainment and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.
Warner Bros.’ “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” was third with an estimated $13.5 million, taking the cume to $76.7 million, followed by Universal’s “Safe House” with $11.4 million and a cume of $98.1 million, and Sony’s “The Vow,” in fifth place with an estimated $10 million, taking the total to $103 million, while notching a historical footnote for the Sony’s Screen Gems division, whch marks the first time a Screen Gems picture has ever grossed more than $100 million in North America.