Shutter Island a $40 Million Destination in Weekend Box Office Results

Following a delay of four months from its original October 2009 release date, Paramount’s Shutter Island opened to an excellent $40.2 million estimated gross at this weekend’s North American box office. The psychological thriller easily defeated last weekend’s trio of big openers, all of which saw sizeable drops from their holiday amounts.

Opening on 2,991 screens, the R-rated Island silenced months of bad buzz that had built around the film online after Paramount decided to postpone the movie, citing financial reasons (who knows, maybe they were telling the truth?). The opening set a personal-best record opening for not only the film’s director, Martin Scorsese, but also for lead Leonardo DiCaprio, who teamed up for a fourth time following Gangs of New York, The Aviator and the 2006 Best Picture winner, The Departed. The film’s opening is also the ninth best opening for a February wide release. If word-of-mouth is good, Scorsese might be looking at his third $100 million-plus grossing film.

Fading as fast as a dozen of flowers sent to your sweetie last Sunday, the Warner Brothers ensemble comedy Valentine’s Day dropped by 69.5% to $17.1 million and a ten-day estimated take of $87.4 million. Considering that Valentine’s Day is a distant memory for most, a movie that centers on it was never meant to last that long at the box office. But word-of-mouth may be helping with the movie’s fast fade. Still, the movie has made quite a bit of coin in a short period of time, and should end with a domestic gross somewhere near $105-110 million.

Third spot went to James Cameron’s Avatar which weathered the post-holiday drop very well, ebbing only 32% in its tenth weekend for a $16.1 million and a new estimated domestic cume of $687.8 million. Next weekend, watch for the 3-D sci-fi epic will cross the $700 million mark. With rumblings of an April 22nd home video date (honestly, what is the rush?) as well as the arrival of another big 3D film, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, in theaters on March 5th, where the Na’Vi movie goes after that box office-wise is anyone’s guess.

Should the current standoff between Disney and the AMC theater chain over the proposed shortened theatrical window for Alice continue and the chain does boycott the Burton film, Avatar may stay put in a lot of Digital 3D theaters, easing the dramatic erosion that many online wags are predicting.

The second of Fox’s four films in the top ten, franchise hopeful Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, was down 51% from last weekend to land in fourth place with a $15.3 million take and a $58.7 million to-date gross. Watch for the film to end its run somewhere in the neighborhood of $85-90 million, which might not be enough to guarantee a sequel. Dropping a hairy 69% in its second weekend to fifth place was Universal’s pricey dud The Wolfman, howling up $9.8 million for the weekend for $50.3 million estimated total to date. Watch for the long-delayed production to end its domestic run near $65 million mark.

Teen weepie Dear John continued its fast fade from its big Super Bowl weekend opening, falling 55% to $7.3 million for a new total of $69 million. Seventh spot went to Fox’s durable family flick The Tooth Fairy with $4.5 million, off only 26% from last weekend for a new to-date $50 million gross. In eighth was Fox Searchlight’s Oscar-nominated Crazy Heart which sung to the tune of $3 million and a new total of $21 million.

Rounding out the top ten were two underperforming star-driven vehicles. John Travolta’s action dud From Paris with Love landed in ninth, down 55% from last weekend for $2.5 million and a new cume of $22 million. Enjoying its fourth and last weekend in the top ten was Mel Gibson’s thriller Edge of Darkness with $2.2 million and a $40.3 million gross.

Next weekend, the Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan comedy Cop Out arrives on the scene alongside the remake of George Romero’s 1970s horror flick The Crazies. You can guess what these films will make, as well as a trio of holdovers, for a chance at some free movies in our weekly Weekend Box Office Prophet game.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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