Weekend Box Office (November 11 - 13, 2011)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Greek Gods conquered the North American box office as the 3D adventure epic Immortals opened at number one while Adam Sandler's new comedy Jack and Jill narrowly edged out two-time chart-topper Puss in Boots for second place. The new FBI biopic J. Edgar opened more like a Clint Eastwood film than a Leonardo DiCaprio one settling into fifth place in its first weekend. Overall the marketplace saw healthy double digit gains over last year thanks in part to the Veterans Day holiday falling on Friday instead of Thursday this year. Multiplex activity is set to go even higher very soon with the Twilight juggernaut right around the corner.

Relativity Media shot to number one with Immortals which bowed to $32.2M from 3,112 theaters for a muscular $10,349 average, according to final studio figures. It was the third biggest opening this year for an R-rated film - and best for a non-sequel - trailing only The Hangover Part II and Paranormal Activity 3 which debuted to $85.9M and $52.6M, respectively. Opening above industry expectations, Immortals received mixed reviews from critics but connected with action and fantasy fans who powered the opening day Friday to $14.8M. Saturday sales dropped a sharp 32% from Veterans Day to $10.1M and Sunday fell another 29% to $7.2M.

Original action films that are not part of an existing brand like James Bond or The Lord of the Rings rarely open above $30M during the football season when millions of males are occupied on Saturdays and Sundays. Studio research showed that the stylishly violent war epic played to an audience that was 60% male and 75% was under 35. 70% of the business ($22.5M) came from non-white audiences while the CinemaScore grade was a B. 3D was a popular option for Immortals as 66% of the grosses came from the higher-priced format.

Produced for $75M, Immortals also opened overseas in 35 territories this weekend including Japan, Germany, the U.K., China, and Russia grossing an estimated $38M for a global debut of $70M.

Adam Sandler's latest laughfest Jack and Jill opened in second place with $25M which was $1M lower than originally estimated. The PG-rated Sony release averaged $7,273 from 3,438 theaters and did not make it into the $30-40M range that the funnyman usually finds himself in with broad comedies. Friday started with $9.9M, Saturday eased 2% to $9.6M while Sunday dropped by 43% to $5.5M.

Critics slammed Jack and Jill with some of their harshest words of any film this year. Moviegoers were only somewhat satisfied with what they got as the pic got a B CinemaScore grade. Studio research showed that the childish humor played broadly as the audience was 52% female, 57% 25 and older, with 53% being families. Despite the atrocious reviews, Jack could continue to bring in respectable grosses as no new mainstream comedies will open over the next three weeks.

Following close behind was two-time box office leader Puss in Boots which dipped only 25% to $24.7M. The 3D toon smashed the $100M mark on Saturday in its 16th day of release and has grossed a stellar $108M to date. Tougher competition will start on Friday with the arrival of the rival 3D animated kidpic Happy Feet Two followed five days later by The Muppets Movie but a final domestic haul of $160M or more stills seems likely. Paramount has had a red hot year in 2011 and has now seen eight of its eleven wide releases join the century club. And the ones that didn't have performed well too.

Universal's action-comedy Tower Heist fell a moderate 47% to $12.8M in its second weekend and has raised its ten-day tally to a decent $43.5M. The $85M Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy vehicle could end its domestic run at about $70M meaning a strong overseas run will be needed.

Clint Eastwood's latest film debuted in fifth place. The biopic J. Edgar headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio bowed to $11.2M from 1,910 locations for a respectable $5,873 average. The opening was on par with the nationwide debut of the director's last film Hereafter which opened to $12M and a $5,510 average in October of last year on its way to a disappointing $32.7M final. Reviews were mixed with many top ones being negative and audiences also were not too thrilled as the R-rated drama earned only a B grade from CinemaScore. J. Edgar platformed in seven theaters in top markets on Wednesday to get a jump on the weekend putting the total at $11.3M for Warner Bros.

The stoner threequel A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas suffered an understandable 54% drop in its second weekend collecting $5.9M putting the ten-day tally at $23.2M. Produced for only $20M, the Warner Bros. release fared a bit better than its predecessor Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay which tumbled 59% in its sophomore frame, although it faced the opening of the superhero juggernaut Iron Man which stole the attention of young men. Christmas looks set to finish with about $35M putting it just behind Guantanamo's $38.1M but ahead of the $18.2M of 2004's Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.

Fox's sci-fi thriller In Time declined by 45% in its third round to $4.1M giving Fox $30.6M in 17 days. Paramount's horror hit Paranormal Activity 3 joined the century club with its $3.6M weekend, off 57%, putting the low-cost $5M chiller at $100.8M and counting. It should finish near the $107.9M of the first film in the highly profitable series.

The studio's dance remake Footloose followed with $2.7M, down 39%, for a $48.8M sum. Rounding out the top ten was Hugh Jackman's boxing hit Real Steel which dropped 46% to $1.9M and $81.6M to date for Disney. The robot flick is now the actor's second-biggest non-Wolverine hit after 2004's Van Helsing which grossed $120.1M.

The top ten films grossed $124.1M which was up a healthy 15% from last year when Megamind remained in the top spot with $29.1M; and even with 2009 when 2012 opened at number one with $65.2M.

Compared to projections, Immortals surged well ahead of my $20M forecast while Jack and Jill debuted just one notch above my $24M prediction. J. Edgar was on target with my $11M projection.

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Watch the NEW trailer for The Hunger Games.

For a NEW review of Immortals and a NEW DVD review of Cars 2 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Happy Feet Two both open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Nov 11 - 13 Nov 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Immortals $ 32,206,425 3,112 1 $ 10,349 $ 32,206,425 Relativity
2 Jack and Jill 25,003,575 3,438 1 7,273 25,003,575 Sony
3 Puss in Boots 24,726,193 33,054,644 -25.2 3,903 3 6,335 108,035,359 Paramount
4 Tower Heist 12,773,765 24,025,190 -46.8 3,370 2 3,790 43,465,615 Universal
5 J. Edgar 11,217,324 1,910 1 5,873 11,315,858 Warner Bros.
6 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas 5,915,143 12,954,142 -54.3 2,875 2 2,057 23,237,525 Warner Bros.
7 In Time 4,081,881 7,481,592 -45.4 2,591 3 1,575 30,598,618 Fox
8 Paranormal Activity 3 3,611,283 8,333,691 -56.7 2,776 4 1,301 100,808,835 Paramount
9 Footloose 2,726,736 4,470,135 -39.0 2,215 5 1,231 48,767,514 Paramount
10 Real Steel 1,864,688 3,436,086 -45.7 1,758 6 1,061 81,612,804 Disney
11 Moneyball 1,066,267 1,786,441 -40.3 813 8 1,312 71,857,836 Sony
12 Courageous 1,012,220 1,539,563 -34.3 905 7 1,118 31,565,808 Sony
13 The Ides of March 944,292 1,938,197 -51.3 696 6 1,357 38,358,318 Sony
14 The Rum Diary 803,456 2,920,481 -72.5 947 3 848 12,371,440 FilmDistrict
15 Dolphin Tale 693,294 1,022,266 -32.2 705 8 983 69,634,072 Warner Bros.
16 Rockstar 612,235 112 1 5,466 612,235 Eros
17 Anonymous 582,527 1,233,006 -52.8 482 3 1,209 3,753,918 Sony
18 Margin Call 545,521 718,321 -24.1 199 4 2,741 3,312,204 Roadside Attr.
19 50/50 507,529 953,636 -46.8 424 7 1,197 33,841,644 Summit
20 Like Crazy 504,512 266,514 89.3 70 3 7,207 1,055,778 Paramount
Top 5 $ 105,927,282 $ 85,849,259 23.4
Top 10 124,127,013 100,400,599 23.6
Top 20 131,398,866 109,415,562 20.1
Top 20 vs. 2010 131,398,866 117,787,699 11.6

Last Updated: November 14, 2011 at 5:10PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.