2. The Call (Sony, WWE Studios) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic score: 52
$17,100,000 in 2,507 theaters; PSA: $6,821; Cumulative: $17,100,000
Here’s a rarity – a film that greatly outperformed expectations for its opening, which hasn’t happened much this year so far. The Halle Berry-starring 911-mystery (costarring Abigail Breslin) showed strength by going up Saturday from its opening day (not at all guaranteed for an R-rated action film), which suggests some core strength beyond what its star (who spearheaded a big publicity push) brought to it. Since her appeal has been suspect for films with her as the core draw, this is a significant comeback. By comparison, the similar “Perfect Stranger” in 2007 opened to $11 million and a total of only $24 million.
This has one of the most surprising director choices of late. Brad Anderson, previously associated with increasingly offbeat indie films (“Next Stop Wonderland,” “The Machinist” and “Transsiberian”) with a total of $9 million gross for six features, seemed an unlikely choice. But his recent work on niche cable dramas (“Treme,” “Walking Dead” and “Boardwalk Empire”) seems to have made him more mainstream. The success of this opening should make a big difference for his future work.
This was an acquisition for Sony from Troika Productions, a newer company with lesser known producers. With a reported $15 million budget, this looks like a success for all involved.
What comes next: With several male stars flopping in genre releases recently, Halle Berry succeeding stands out more. This early success suggests a $50 million + total, at least a modest success and likely to elevate Berry’s profile one more time.
3. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic score: 44
$32 million, 15 million estimated opening
$10,305,000 in 3,160 theaters; PSA: $3,261; Cumulative: $10,350,000
Warner Bros.’ fifth release of 2013 is its fifth straight disappointment. Coming parallel to their big success with “Argo” and “The Hobbit,” it has been a grim alternative period for them. “Burt Wonderstone,” a comedy with the usually reliable Steve Carell, isn’t the worst grossing of them, but with a $32 million budget plus marketing costs, the production has little chance of success, particularly with less appeal internationally than an action-driven film.
A New Line production (as is “Jack the Giant Killer”), this seems similar to their Tom Cruise flop last summer, “Rock of Ages,” as a star-driven, performance-oriented story (in this case, about a magician trying to keep his once-successful act alive). Carell’s top films seem to have him playing off his well-honed off-kilter “normal guy” image, while here he’s playing a more developed character, much like Cruise unsuccessfully veered from his usual image in “Rock.”
Though it was not expected to be a success close to its opening, pre-weekend estimates expected this to fight for second place and take in around $15 million. It turned out lower than even “Dan in Real Life,” Carell’s previous low opener (at far fewer theaters). For Jim Carrey, with more of a supporting role, it isn’t a successful return to comedy. His last starring vehicle, “Yes Man,” opened to $18 million, but ended up with just under $100 million.
The film was directed by veteran Don Scardino, recently of “30 Rock,” who in the 1970s was an actor with sporadic leading roles (“Homer,” “Squirm”) as well as a supporting role in “Cruising.”
What comes next: This will struggle to gross its production budget in the U.S.
4. Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last Weekend: #2
$6,220,000 (-37%) in 3,357 theaters (-168); PSA: $1,853; Cumulative: $53,913,000
Ordinarily, this would be considered a good third week drop for an expensive film. Unfortunately, this fell from a much lower level than needed for a $200 million production, meaning that it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what this film needed to do even if eventually worldwide figures do somewhat better.
What comes next: With school spring vacations ongoing this month, this might hold on a bit better than its initial take suggested.