The Roommate Tops Slow Weekend Box Office

The North American box office continued its winter doldrums this weekend as Screen Gems’ The Roommate and Universal’s Sanctum opened to middling-to-flat results. The ongoing lack of enticing cinematic product, the continuing nationwide deep freeze and preparation for the Super Bowl helped drag numbers down significantly from last year at this time when Screen Gems’ romantic weepie Dear John opened to a solid $30.5 million in ticket sales.

Targeting the one demographic that is probably not interested in the Super Bowl, the under-25 female crowd, Screen Gems opened their Single White Female clone The Roommate on 2,787 screens for an okay $15.5 million weekend haul. The $16 million production, which stars Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) and Minka Kelley, scored a whopping 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the nation’s critics and a none-too-encouraging “B-” Cinemascore grade from viewers. While the critical pans won’t affect sales, the negative word-of-mouth from the mall crowd just might.

Considering how much Universal Studios pimped James Cameron’s name in the ads for this weekend’s number two film, Sanctum, you may have thought that Mr. C had directed the movie himself. Alas, he only served as a producer but was active on the press junket circuit. Judging by the critical response (30% positive on RT) and weak $9.2 million estimated opening on 2,534 screens, I’m sure the studio was hoping he did.

The opening for the $30 million Australian film, directed by Alister Grierson, is dire for a major studio release no matter what time of the year it hits screens. But having the film occupy over 2,000 3D screens that usually affords a financial cushion made its debut all the more horrific. Ticket buyers didn’t care for what they saw either, giving the movie a “C+” Cinemascore rating. Watch for the underwater flick to be deep-sixed by the end of the month (if that).

On the other hand, moviegoers continued their love affair with the Paramount comedy hit No Strings Attached this weekend. The Ivan Reitman-directed comedy was off only 37% from last weekend to land in third spot while adding $8.4 million from 3,050 screens, bringing its three-week total to the $52 million mark. The Natalie Portman film should see a nice little spike come Valentine’s Day which will help bring its final total close to the $75-80 million mark.

Making the most of its dozen Oscar nominations in fourth place was the Weinstein Company’s The King’s Speech. Off a slight 25%, the film added $8.3 million to its total this weekend which now stands at an impressive $84 million. Overseas the Tom Hooper historical drama has bagged $68 million in its early stages of release. The foreign amount should double or possibly even triple should the film take home the top prize at the Oscars at the end of the month which is when it should sail by the $100 million mark domestically.

Sony’s Seth Rogen action comedy The Green Hornet continued to see some green this weekend as the Michel Gondry film scored an estimated $6.1 million from 3,033 screens. Since its opening on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, the movie has amassed a solid $87.2 million. Overseas it has taken in $61 million to date bringing its overall total to the $148 million mark.

Dropping from first to sixth place while losing a hellish 63% of its opening weekend business was Warner’s exorcism flick The Rite. The Anthony Hopkins headliner added $5.6 million from 2,985 screens to bring its ten-day total to $23.6 million. Depending on how big the drops are over the next few weekends, the film could reach the $35 million mark before heading to home video. Last weekend’s other opener, CBS Pictures’ remake of The Mechanic, also dropped by more than half (53%) in its sophomore session. The Jason Statham and Ben Foster flick earned $5.3 million from 2,704 screens to bring its ten-day total to the $20 million mark. The film should call it a box office day with roughly $28-30 million in the bank.

Rounding out the top ten were two Best Picture nominees… and The Dilemma. Paramount’s box office smash True Grit added another $4.7 million in its seventh weekend to bring its overall total to an incredible (for a Western) $155 million. Universal’s The Dilemma added $3.4 million from 2,545 screens to its total which now stands at a meek $45.7 million after one month. In tenth place was Fox Searchlight’s smash thriller Black Swan which also reported an estimated $3.4 million (-34%) from 1,977 screens. The domestic total for the Darren Aronofsky flick now stands at $96 million. The film should cross the $100 million mark within the week. Overseas Black Swan has danced up $30 million in ticket sales.

Next weekend the box office should spring back to life in a big way as Sony releases the latest Adam Sandler comedy Just Go With It, Paramount unleashes the Just Bieber documentary (in 3D!!!) Never Say Never, Disney debuts its latest animated offering Gnomeo and Juliet and Focus Features unleashes hell with the period piece action epic The Eagle.

And… Go Packers!

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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