This weekend's modestly budgeted performers yielded a weak total. The top ten grossed around $87 million, about 20% down from last year (continuing the trend for 2013 so far) and closer to 30% off from last weekend.

On a Sunday when studio films look to take home most of the top Oscars (not always the case), their new pictures aren't playing well with audiences. Only three studio pics make the top ten, while mini-majors and independents carry most of the weight. The continued success of such companies as Weinstein, Lionsgate, Relativity and Open Road is healthy for the overall industry, but the lack of top-draw breakout hits from the studios is significant, even iduring their first quarter off-season. This drives grosses lower, with exhibitors continuing to bear the brunt of the pain.

1. Identity Thief (Universal) Week 3 - Last Weekend: #2

$14,100,000 (-41%) in 3,222 theaters (+57); PSA (per screen average):; Cumulative: $93,700,000

Returning to #1 in its third week -- a rare accomplishment, and a position that earlier Melissa McCarthy-starring "Bridesmaids" didn't achieve during its great run -- this is a strong showing for the film, if not a stellar gross to lead the top ten.

"Bridesmaids" achieved its $169 million gross by keeping its early week drops to around 20% as much better word of mouth carried it to months of success. It also opened in May, against early summer behemoths, then outlasted them by a wide margin.

"Identity Thief" at this point looks like it could come much closer to the "Bridesmaids" total than anyone expected ($150 million isn't impossible), particularly if upcoming new releases continue to underperform like most others this year.

What comes next: This could be Jennifer Lawrence's night, but Melissa McCarthy is now a major female comedy star in the right property.

2. Snitch (Lionsgate) NEW - Cinemascore: B; Metacritic score: 53

$13,000,000 in 2,511 theaters; PSA: $5,177; Cumulative: $13,000,000

Performing as expected, this $5 millon Lionsgate acquisition (before marketing costs) continues the distributor's strong 2013 (this is their sixth wide release). This father-saves-son action drama is performing closer to the level of The Rock's earlier "Walking Tall" than his franchise successes ("Journey 2" and "Faster") or comedies ("The Other Guys"), but its lower budget makes it a decent performance.

The film was made by Exclusive Entertainment, which has found distribution partners elsewhere ("End of Watch"/Open Road, "The Woman in Black"/CBS FIlms), showing that working outside the studio system can work for independents making mid-level budget films with proven stars. For director Ric Roman Waugh, a stuntman from his late teens, this is a big step up from his earlier-directed film "Felon."

What comes next: Unless word of mouth kicks in, this recouper will fall quickly.

3. Escape from Planet Earth (Weinstein) Week 2 - Last Weekend: #4

$11,013,000 (-31%) in 3,353 theaters (+65); PSA: $3,285; Cumulative: $35,144,000

Continued decent gross for this overperforming animated film for the year-round audience looking for something to see. Timing can be everything for box office success, and this fed the hungry family crowd.

What comes next: With all the concentration of Weinstein's Oscar presence, this comes as a nice alternative success for them irrespective of what happens at the Dolby on Sunday.

4. Safe Haven (Relativity) Week 2 - Last Weekend: #3

$10,600,000 (-50%) in 3,223 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $3,289; Cumulative: $48,062,000

This latest Nicholas Sparks' adaptation, aided by its strong Valentine's Day opening, already is close to $50 million in only 11 days. Though it took a big second weekend drop, the $28 million production, already presold to most of the rest of world, looks like a significant success for Relativity.

What comes next: This should head to around $75 million.