February 25, 2012



Navy SEALs shoot up the Friday boxoffice.
OPENINGS:  The very aggressive marketing for ACT OF VALOR (Relativity) made it seem like it was a patriotic duty to see the film, and successfully hid the fact that it’s mostly a sub-par B action movie.  The question now is whether its quality will catch up with it (or not).  GOOD DEEDS (Lionsgate/Summit) is Tyler Perry’s lowest wide-release opening Friday ever at $5.6M (Daddy’s Little Girls opened on a Wednesday), but not to worry–Perry will have a new Madea comedy out later this year.

Although daily numbers aren’t available for her earliest vehicles, WANDERLUST (Universal), with a 2.2M Friday, also seems to be the biggest flop of Jennifer Aniston’s starring career, let alone for one that pairs her with another big name like Paul Rudd.  Aniston has had something of a charmed movie career, considering the low quality of many of her pictures, but her luck may be running out.  GONE (Summit/Lionsgate) is just sad at $1.7M, and should send Amanda Seyfried on a search for the next half-decent rom-com or soap opera script that comes her way.
HOLDOVERSTHE VOW (Screen Gems/Sony), SAFE HOUSE (Universal) and SECRET WORLD OF ARIETTY (Disney) are all sustaining well, but nothing is holding like JOURNEY 2:  THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (Warners), which is clearly pleasing its target audiences. The only thing that could keep it from beating the $102M US gross of the first Journey is next weekend’s increased competition.  GHOST RIDER:  SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (Sony) collapsed, and STAR WARS EPISODE I:  THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D (20th) continued to do so as well–it’s starting to look like Phantom Menace may not even get to $50M, although it’ll still put plenty of midichlorians in George Lucas’s pocket.  
OSCAR NOMINEES:  As THE ARTIST (Weinstein) prepares for its coronation, it added about 20% more theatres and took a nice tick upward.  HUGO (Paramount) lost about 10% of its screens, but also went up a bit.  THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight), on the other hand, lost about a third of its theatres, and was somewhat down.
LIMITED RELEASES:  No notable openings or expansions this weekend, as the art-house audience is presumably occupied with Oscar Day.
NEXT WEEKEND:  March is unusually packed with event movies this year, and first up is THE LORAX (Universal), which the studio has been marketing as an all-quadrant tentpole, with spots aiming at kids (Dr. Seuss), teens (Zac Efron and Taylor Swift) and adults (Danny DeVito and Betty White)–including a fairly heavy ESPN push–and all of that doesn’t even count the giant promo deals with a car company and restaurant chain.  A different sort of event is PROJECT X (Warners), an R-rated  “found footage” version of The Hangover (and produced by its director, as every promo is happy to tell you) about a teen party that goes very wild.  Also arriving is the year’s first substantial limited release, Paul Weitz’s BEING FLYNN (Focus), which is riding some good early buzz for its performances from Robert DeNiro and Paul Dano.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."