February 12, 2012



Hollywood Hearts this weekend.
OPENINGS:   It turned out that THE VOW (Screen Gems/Sony) was indeed slightly more frontloaded than SAFE HOUSE (Universal), but not by enough to rob it of 1st place.  Vow‘s massive $41.7M haul was higher than any opening weekend for a Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock or Katherine Heigl vehicle–ever.  (Cut to the board room at Screen Gems, where they’re trying to figure out just how to do a Vow 2.)  Sony has another reason to be thrilled, too–they have Channing Tatum’s 21 Jump Street opening next month.  Normally, one would say that Vow might get hurt by the similarly-aimed This Means War next weekend, but War has such bad buzz that it may not be much of a threat.  Meanwhile, Safe House‘s $39.3M is the 2d highest opening of Denzel Washington’s career, and since its genre hits an international sweet spot, there’s nothing but upside (and another sequel that seemingly can’t happen, although never discount the inspiration–and desperation–of Hollywood execs).  Also celebrating today:  Ryan Reynolds, whose career was heading for life support after 2011’s flops; the Safe House tally probably isn’t much due to him, but in Hollywood, if you’re in a hit, it’s your hit.

Over in the 2d tier, the one genuinely frontloaded movie of the weekend was STAR WARS EPISODE I:  THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D (20th), as audiences, depending on their ages, either remembered or discovered just how bad it was.  (Even though Phantom Menace was the only opening to go down on Saturday, Fox is predicting it to have Sunday’s lowest drop–so look for that $23M weekend number to be reduced tomorrow.)  JOURNEY 2:  THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (Warners), on the other hand, had a wonderfully robust 94% hike on Saturday, its $27.6M weekend total almost 25% higher than the $21M opening for the first Journey picture.  With the semi-arty The Secret World of Arrietty as the only family movie opening for Presidents Day weekend, Journey should hold up pretty well.
HOLDOVERS:  As noted yesterday, last Sunday’s depressed Super Bowl Sunday grosses make this weekend’s comparisons look artificially strong.  In a normal weekend, CHRONICLE (20th), THE WOMAN IN BLACK (CBS) and BIG MIRACLE (Universal) would all be down over 50%, but only Woman (just barely) crossed that line this weekend.  Those 3, along with THE GREY (Open Road), RED TAILS (20th) and UNDERWORLD AWAKENING (Screen Gems/Sony) are all headed for $50-65M totals.
OSCAR NOMINEES:  Generally good holds for the pictures in general release, as THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight), THE ARTIST (Weinstein) and HUGO (Paramount) all lost 20-30% of their theatres and went down under 25%.  The only big hit was for EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Warners), which shed almost half its theatres and plummeted 60%.  A couple of nominees in smaller categories had modest expansions:  A SEPARATION (Sony Classics) added 5 theatres for a total of 45 and went up a couple of percentage points, and PINA (IFC) almost doubled its theatres to 67 and had a nice 35% bump.  The bare 22% increase for W.E. (Weinstein), though, meant a big reduction in per-screen as it went from 4 to 17 theatres. IN DARKNESS (Sony Classics) had an OK start with a $9700 at 3, and surprise Best Animated Film nominee CHICO & RITA (GK) got a lot of curious eyeballs with a $27K opening in 1 NY theatre.j
LIMITED RELEASE:  Not much going on, apart from the Oscar nominees above.  RAMPART (Millenium) had a decent start with a $13K average in 5 theatres, and RETURN (Dada), a very tiny movie with excellent performances by Linda Cardellini as a returning Iraq vet and Michael Shannon (for once playing a normal human being) as her husband, had a $3500 average at 2. 

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."