Did The Rock vs. Jar Jar Binks vs. The Apex Predator vs. Harry Potter Main Event the Box Office Smackdown this Weekend?
The tag team combinations of Channing Tatum & Rachel McAdams and Denzel Washington & Ryan Reynolds may have ruled the record-breaking box office, but for genre fans it was all about The Rock starring in Brendan Fraser’s sloppy seconds, George Lucas’ continuing efforts to wring every last penny out of the Star Wars brand, and round two between a found footage superpowers movie and a Hammer ghost flick starring Harry Potter.
Four movies opened to over $20 million for only the second time in box office history with The Vow ($41 million) and Safe House ($39 million) taking the top two slots. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island was the big new release for the weekend with only the most tenuous relation to the horror genre – it does have monsters, and if nothing else The Rock can at least say he laid the smack down on Jar Jar Binks. The Rock’s pec pop of love, Michael Caine’s slumming, and Vanessa Hudgens getting ogled by the camera in 3D surprised with a $27.5 million opening. That’s a vast improvement over Journey 2 the Center of the Earth’s 2008 opening of $21 million. Does Brendan Fraser smell what The Rock is cooking?
No doubt Journey 2’s big family movie opening cut into the profits for the 3D re-release of the fanboy whipping boy of a generation. Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace in 3D took in $23 million, proving there is still a sizable contingency of Star Wars fans out there who will flock to anything George Lucas offers them. The 3D re-release had strong midnight and Friday openings before it became clear those hardcore fans wanted to be first and the numbers dwindled for the remainder of the weekend.
The $23 million third place showing sounds pretty impressive until you consider the original Star Wars Special Edition theatrical re-release on January 31st of 1997 raked in nearly $36 million its opening weekend and keep in mind that’s in both 1997 dollars and without today’s inflated 3D ticket prices. It would go on to gross upwards of $138 million. Something tells me a movie loathed by so many that airs every other day on Spike TV won’t even make half as much.
Last weekend it was a neck-and-neck contest for the top spot between the superhero found footage flick Chronicle and the Hammer horror The Woman in Black. The two films were back-to-back again, albeit this weekend it was a battle to remain in the top 5.
Strong word-of-mouth is keeping Chronicle going as it only dropped 44% in its second week, easily clinching 5th place with another $12.3 million. The Woman in Black dropped 51%, finishing 6th with $10.3 million. Considering both film were low budget and didn’t spend a vast fortune in marketing, the near $40 million both have raked in domestically alone is more than enough to already turn a profit.
Nipping on their heels like a pack of ravenous wolves at 7th place is Joe Carnahan’s The Grey with another $5 million. That brings its take up to $42 million. which is not bad at all for a thoughtful meditation on death disguised as a wilderness survival flick about plane crash victims being hunted by wolves in the frozen wild.
Next weekend brings us the superhero sequel nobody wanted except for the producers desperate to get a sequel off the ground before they lost the rights to the character back to Marvel/Disney. I speak, of course, of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the PG-13 3D sequel once again starring Nic Cage as the flaming motorcycle skull of infernal justice. Before anyone gets too excited because the directors of Crank are behind the wheel this time, the movie screened this past December at Harry Knowles’ Butt-Numb-A-Thon and has since been hailed by nearly everyone that was in attendance as not just one of the worst movies to ever screen at that film festival, but an easy early frontrunner for worst movie of 2012. “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” and Nicolas Cage can’t win.
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