Last weekend's two $30-million openers have been followed by a strong Easter weekend that looks to top last year's. Led by Paramount's delayed release of "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (with 3-D added and a beefed-up role for Channing Tatum), Friday's top ten films grossed an estimated $54 million, up from the $46 million total from both a year ago and from that of 2012's one-week-later Good Friday. The figure was also up from last week's $38 million, making this the rare Friday this year with across the board improvements.
Also impressive was the opening day for "The Place Beyond the Pines" (Focus), boosted by stars Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling, which grossed around $95,000 in four theaters, equaling in gross and falling just a little short of the initial strong opening for "Spring Breakers" two weeks ago. This is the biggest opening for a Focus limited release since "Moonrise Kingdom" last May (which did $172,000 in four theaters its first day).
The "G.I. Joe" sequel was down slightly from the opening Friday for the 2009 original, at the height of summer. But "Retaliation" opened on Thursday to over $10 million. The rise on the second day signals the film's ongoing strong performance.
Good news for Dreamworks' "The Croods" (released by Twentieth Century Fox): buoyed by strong matinees, the film fell less than 10% from its opening day.
Meanwhile Tyler Perry's latest, "Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor" (Lionsgate) scored a decent $9.4 million, but that is well below several of his other recent opening days, including a better than $12 million for "Why Did I Get Married" on Good Friday 2009.
Open Road's "The Host," adapted from the novel by "Twilight"'s Stephenie Meyer, managed only $5.5 million despite the school holiday.
Among holdovers, Disney's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" held up best, falling less than 25% as it also gained from strong matinees.
Because of the holiday boost, Friday will be the best day of the weekend for many of the top ten films. But the weekend is off to a strong start, suggesting that the worst fears of a prolonged box office recession are abating.