February 26, 2012



As Hollywood prepares to honor its best (well, this year… maybe not so much), an undistinguished group of arrivals dominate the boxoffice.
OPENINGS:  ACT OF VALOR (Relativity) is claiming the lowest Sunday decline for any adult-skewing picture in the Top 10, ignoring the usual Oscar Day decline (even though the film had the lowest Saturday bump of any of them).  That means the weekend’s final number may be closer to $24M.  There’s probably not much gas in the tank for future weeks, but a $60M total for a picture that cost $13M (albeit with much more expensive marketing) is clearly a win.  GOOD DEEDS (Lionsgate/Summit)  is Tyler Perry’s lowest opening ever (excluding Daddy’s Little Girls, which opened on a Wednesday).  That probably doesn’t mean much in terms of his overall franchise (especially since he has a Madea movie coming out next), but may give concern to his bid for a non-franchise (well, new franchise) success playing a detective in I, Alex Cross later this year.

Bad news for Jennifer Aniston, too:  WANDERLUST (Universal) is her lowest-ever opening for a starring vehicle.  (Paul Rudd isn’t really seen as someone whose name alone opens movies–his hits have either been concept-driven (Role Models) or buddy movies with strong co-stars (Dinner For Schmucks)–but this certainly doesn’t move him up in the ranks.)  Another couple of losers and it may be time for Aniston to take a hard look at returning to TV.  The best news for Amanda Seyfried is that in a couple of weeks, GONE (Summit/Lionsgate) will be a dim memory–but even though it’s ridiculous to put her in direct competition with Rachel McAdams or any other particular actress, she does need another Dear John-sized hit in the near future if she’s not going to fall onto the heap of lovely ex-TV actresses who couldn’t hack it on the big screen.
HOLDOVERSJOURNEY 2 (Warners) and THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (Disney) have real legs, although in Arrietty‘s case, that won’t translate to much of a total gross.  SAFE HOUSE (Universal), THE VOW (Screen Gems/Sony) (which went over $100M, the first-ever for Screen Gems) and THIS MEANS WAR (20th) all held well.  GHOST RIDER 2 (Sony), of course collapsed.  So did PHANTOM MENACE 3D (20th), which now seems unlikely to reach $50M–presumably Fox will do anything George Lucas tells them to, but one has to wonder about the enthusiasm for re-releasing the rest of the prequel trilogy in 3D when 3D TV and homevideo are still in their infancy and there’s little ancillary value to be had.
OSCAR NOMINEES:  Only a few of the major nominees are still in wide release.  THE ARTIST (Weinstein), in anticipation of its big wins tonight, was the only one to add theatres, and had a nice weekend bump.  THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight) and HUGO (Paramount), in anticipation of their big losses, dropped theatres and had modest declines.  (Hugo is being released on homevideo in a few days.)  Sony Classics widened a couple of their Best Foreign Film nominees:  probable winner A SEPARATION did very well, increasing theatre count by around 50% and boxoffice by 36%, while IN DARKNESS wasn’t quite as strong, with a similar rise in theatre count but only a 11% boost at the boxoffice.
Enjoy the Sacha Baron Cohen Publicity Tour Oscars tonight, everyone!  We’ll have plenty of coverage on The Artist‘s anointment after the fact.

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."