February 4, 2012



A surprisingly strong start for 2 low-budget arrivals, although the upside is limited by tomorrow’s Super Bowl.
OPENINGS:  CHRONICLE (20th) had a slight $350K edge over THE WOMAN IN BLACK (CBS Films) on Friday, and both are in frontloaded genres, appealing to young men and young women, respectively.  Young men are more likely to be otherwise occupied on Super Bowl Sunday, so Woman may have a small edge for the weekend, but both movies are success stories, with modest budgets (in the case of Woman, a modest acquisition cost) and minimal marketing by big-studio standards.  Chronicle will put director Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis (son of National Lampoon’s Animal House/American Werewolf in London director John Landis) on the map; Woman proves that Daniel Radcliffe hasn’t lost his place on that map, even without Ron and Hermoine.  The news was less good for Universal’s BIG MIRACLE, a more costly production that didn’t spark with audiences, and is unlikely to get anywhere near its $40M (not including marketing) budget.

HOLDOVERS:  Because of Super Sunday, THE GREY (Open Road) will probably fall around 50%, to $9-10M.  ONE FOR THE MONEY (Lionsgate/Summit) will likely take a bigger hit, although with its female audience, it may be less affected by football–it doesn’t matter much, though, since percentage points aside, the movie is a flop.  (Katherine Heigl’s people were quick to announce 2 new projects for her this week, albeit notably wacky ones:  a thriller where she plays someone who can’t distinguish people’s faces, and thus doesn’t know when a murderer is standing in front of her, and a detective story in which puppets are alive and co-exist with humans, and a puppet murder has to be solved.  Uhhh… okay.)  MAN ON A LEDGE (Summit/Lionsgate) actually had the best Friday hold of last week’s openings, but the movie opened so low that the good word of mouth will make little difference.  Meanwhile, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Sony) should hit its (still somewhat disappointing) $100M milestone on Sunday or early next week.
OSCAR NOMINEES:  The Weinstein Company continues to play its shell game with THE ARTIST, expanding again this weekend to counteract its shrinking per-theatre number:  this week, although the theatre count rose about 10%, the Friday gross was down 15%, translating into a 25% fall per-theatre.  The movie is unlikely to have a total gross much over $30M when the Oscars are awarded at the end of the month, despite what will be 3 months in theatres.  THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight) held well and should be over $75M by Oscar time.  EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Warners) fared less well, and may fall 40% this weekend.  THE IRON LADY (Weinstein) lost about 20% of its theatres and will hope to still be meaningfully in the market in 3 weeks time.
LIMITED RELEASE:  A slow week:  the only significant arrival was the “real” opening (it played a week for Oscar consideration in December) of Madonna’s W.E. (Weinstein), which should do around an OK $13K in each of 4 NY/LA theatres.
Next weekend brings the R-rated Denzel Washington thriller SAFE HOUSE (Universal) and the pre-Valentine’s Day weepie THE VOW (Screen Gems/Sony).  Also arriving is Warners’ 3D JOURNEY 2:  THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, which will have the challenge of facing off with the 3D return of 20th/Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS EPISODE 1:  THE PHANTOM MENACE, which despite the fact that many have less-than-fond memories of it, is still an event.

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."