Weekend Box Office (February 1 - 3, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Super Bowl weekend was ruled by the adorable undead as the zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies opened at number one leading a dull frame with lackluster ticket sales. The Big Game routinely crushes ticket sales on Sunday weakening weekend numbers and studios either avoid programming any good films, or use it as an opportunity to counter-program to young women - the demographic least affected by America's biggest sporting event. The Top 20 sank to just $82M, down a sharp 31% versus last year.

Delivering a solid opening weekend, Warm Bodies easily topped the chart with a $20.4M debut averaging a commendable $6,764 from 3,009 theaters, according to final studio figures. The PG-13 film about a zombie who develops feelings for a human gal offered an interesting new twist on the decades-old genre and connected with young women. The rating helped especially since six of the next seven films on the chart were rated R. Warm Bodies played to a 60% female audience and 65% were under 25. This demographic has been mostly turned off by the barrage of action films over the last few weeks but responded to something more appealing. The CinemaScore grade was a decent B+ for the Summit film and reviews were very positive.

Paramount's chart-topper Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters fell 52% in its second weekend to $9.4M giving the studio $34.7M after ten days. A $50M final seems likely for the $50M-budgeted actioner. Academy Award contender Silver Linings Playbook once again enjoyed the best hold in the top ten taking in an estimated $7.7M for a slim 18% decline. The Weinstein Co. has now amassed $80M.

Down 50% in its third round was the supernatural thriller Mama with $6.6M and $58.1M to date for Universal. Sony's Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty followed with $5.2M, sliding 47%, to $77.7M thus far.

The unlucky streak for action movies continued as audiences steered clear of the new Sylvester Stallone flick Bullet to the Head which crapped out in sixth place with $4.5M from 2,404 theaters for a dismal $1,892 average. For the aging action hero it was his worst opening for a wide release in over three decades and fell below the dreadful debuts in recent weeks for his Expendables co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham who anchored The Last Stand ($6.3M opening) and Parker ($7M), respectively.

Stallone successfully rebranded himself in recent years with Rocky Balboa, Rambo, and the two Expendables hits. But Bullet featured no beloved character that audiences were familiar with plus no known co-stars to help bring in the loot. The audience skewed older male as studio research showed that men made up 60% of the crowd while 81% were over 25. The CinemaScore was a disappointing B-.

Parker followed in seventh with $3.3M tumbling 53% in its sophomore frame. The FilmDistrict release should end with just $18M. The rest of the top ten was filled up by a trio of blockbuster Oscar nominees for Best Picture with decent holds considering it's Super Bowl weekend. Quentin Tarantino hopped over the $150M mark for the first time with Django Unchained which grossed $3M, off 39%, for a $150.9M cume for The Weinstein Co. Former front-runner Lincoln dipped 38% to $2.4M while the musical Les Misérables collected the same amount after a 43% decline. Disney has banked an impressive $170.8M for the Daniel-Day Lewis hit while Universal has taken in $141.5M with rival Best Actor contender Hugh Jackman.

Among other nominees for Hollywood's top trophy, awards season juggernaut Argo took 11th place in its 17th weekend of release with $2M after jumping up 12% after adding 47% more theaters to the run. Ben Affleck's hostage crisis hit has won all three top guild awards from the PGA, SAG, and DGA and is now in a commanding position as Oscar voting begins. However, it does lack the Best Director nomination which has been such a critical component for most - but not all - Best Picture winners. Argo will now follow the path of one of two films. 1995's Apollo 13 won the same three guild titles only to lose the Best Picture Oscar to Braveheart. It also had no Academy nod for Director. But 1989's Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture without even earning a Best Director nomination. One of these rare cases will repeat itself this year.

Fox's Life of Pi, another of this year's Best Picture contenders, dropped 28% to $1.9M upping the total to $106.1M. The French-language film Amour expanded screens by 47% and watched its weekend gross slip 4% to $450,400. Sony Classics has collected $2.4M so far. By Oscar night, seven of the nine Best Picture nominees could be over the $90M mark. That should drive TV ratings higher since so many of the contenders have been seen by so many people. This year's crop has a substantial amount of mainstream appeal.

Oscar winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin failed to draw in any sales for their new old-timers dramedy Stand Up Guys which flopped with an opening weekend of just $1.5M, according to estimates. The Lionsgate release averaged a weak $2,256 from a moderate release in 659 locations and attracted lackluster reviews.

The top ten films grossed $65M which was down a sharp 26% from last year when Chronicle opened at number one with $22M; and down 5% from 2011 when The Roommate debuted in the top spot with $15M.

Compared to projections, Warm Bodies opened close to my $18M forecast while Bullet to the Head debuted with half of my $9M prediction. Stand Up Guys was close to my $2M projection.

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Watch NEW Super Bowl spots including Star Trek Into Darkness.

Check the UPDATED chart of Oscar nominees and grosses. For a review of The Hobbit visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Identity Thief and Side Effects both open.

# Title Feb 1 - 3 Jan 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Warm Bodies $ 20,353,967 3,009 1 $ 6,764 $ 20,353,967 Summit
2 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 9,423,274 19,690,956 -52.1 3,375 2 2,792 34,676,068 Paramount
3 Silver Linings Playbook 7,738,058 9,444,039 -18.1 2,809 12 2,755 80,002,616 Weinstein Co.
4 Mama 6,590,970 13,088,145 -49.6 2,781 3 2,370 58,123,070 Universal
5 Zero Dark Thirty 5,176,428 9,700,132 -46.6 2,871 7 1,803 77,673,978 Sony
6 Bullet to the Head 4,548,201 2,404 1 1,892 4,548,201 Warner Bros.
7 Parker 3,302,415 7,008,222 -52.9 2,238 2 1,476 12,527,297 FilmDistrict
8 Django Unchained 3,002,769 4,946,932 -39.3 1,777 6 1,690 150,942,958 Weinstein Co.
9 Les Misérables 2,420,885 4,221,055 -42.6 1,848 6 1,310 141,504,130 Universal
10 Lincoln 2,402,224 3,863,689 -37.8 1,756 13 1,368 170,776,742 Disney
11 Argo 2,029,324 1,812,358 12.0 935 17 2,170 120,372,139 Warner Bros.
12 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 1,901,164 3,385,361 -43.8 1,300 8 1,462 296,193,684 Warner Bros.
13 Life of Pi 1,872,632 2,587,148 -27.6 902 11 2,076 106,106,363 Fox
14 Gangster Squad 1,843,089 4,278,235 -56.9 1,625 4 1,134 43,092,147 Warner Bros.
15 Movie 43 1,641,849 4,805,878 -65.8 2,023 2 812 7,700,123 Relativity
16 A Haunted House 1,522,116 3,244,017 -53.1 1,501 4 1,014 37,756,019 Open Road
17 Parental Guidance 1,488,766 2,502,684 -40.5 1,480 6 1,006 72,900,590 Fox
18 Stand Up Guys 1,486,390 659 1 2,256 1,486,390 Lionsgate
19 Broken City 1,461,321 4,019,558 -63.6 1,786 3 818 18,135,411 Fox
20 The Impossible 1,305,464 1,935,638 -32.6 765 7 1,706 15,214,095 Summit
Top 5 $ 49,282,697 $ 58,931,494 -16.4
Top 10 64,959,191 81,203,152 -20.0
Top 20 81,511,306 104,728,398 -22.2
Top 20 vs. 2012 81,511,306 107,208,069 -24.0

Last Updated: February 4, 2013 at 10:55PM ET

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