Updated: Hall Pass Tops Weekend Box Office

Update: The finalized weekend box office results released early this afternoon revealed the top two films flip-flopped positions. Gnomeo and Juliet, previously though to finished first based on early estimates, took second with $13.4 million. Hall Pass meanwhile narrowly secured a win with $13.53 million, a slightly higher number than projected as of yesterday afternoon.

This weekend the motion picture industry celebrates their best offerings from 2010 with both the Independent Spirit and 83rd Academy Awards. One thing they will not be celebrating is this weekend’s top ten box office results which may be one of the lowest in the past two years. While Oscar Weekend is usually a somewhat sedate one, this year’s low numbers prove yet again that ticket buyers, for the most part, are not buying what they are being offered. Sales were down 26% from the top ten last year at this time.

As one of only two movies in the top ten that is actually showing staying power, Disney’s 3D animated hit Gnomeo and Juliet held well enough in its third weekend to take over the number one spot. Dropping a mere 25%, the comedy romanced an estimated $14.2 million from 3,037 screens to bring its total to the $75 million mark. The Elton John-produced film will have no problem crossing the $100 million mark within the next couple of weeks. How far it goes beyond that is anyone’s guess. Overseas, the movie has earned $15 million so far in early release.

It’s been four years since Peter and Bobby Farrelly stepped behind the camera to make a film, the last one being the Ben Stiller bomb The Heartbreak Kid. Well, the boys are back at it with the raunchy new Owen Wilson R-rated comedy Hall Pass. But judging by the weak $13.4 million opening on 2,950 screens, they might as well have continued their cinematic sabbatical. Despite the sizable ad campaign that New Line/Warner Brothers have bestowed on the comedy, moviegoers simply weren’t interested in seeing a film that probably will play better on the small screen in a few months’ time. Reviews for the comedy were largely on the negative side.

After nabbing a number one debut last weekend during a quiet President’s Day Holiday period, the Liam Neeson action/mystery flick Unknown eased by 43% in its second round to pull in an estimated $12.4 million from 3,043 screens to bring its ten-day total to an okay $42.8 million. While the film has been marketed like Neeson’s 2009 hit Taken, the Warner Brothers release certainly hasn’t been performing like it. Unknown could reach $70-75 million at the domestic box office by the end of its run.

Adam Sandler, his onscreen pals and ticket buyers continued to Just Go With It by adding $11.1 million to the Sony hit’s coffers in week three on 3,544 screens to bring its total to the $79.4 mark. The $100 million mark is still a possibility for the comedy. In fifth place was the Disney/Dreamworks sci-fi flick I Am Number Four led by Alex Pettyfer. The film dropped by 43% in its second round to earn $11 million from 3,156 screens to bring its ten-day total to $37.7 million. Look for the Michael Bay-produced film to wrap up its run around the $55 million mark, far below what the studios were hoping for.

How does a studio keep a documentary about a pop music star afloat after three weeks in theaters? Why, you put out a director’s cut and claim it’s only going to be in theaters for a week (yeah, right)! That is exactly what Paramount did this weekend with their Justin Bieber film Never Say Never. An additional 40 minutes of footage helped the film drop only 30.3% percent this weekend to bring in $9 million in estimated sales from 2,810 theaters. To date, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never has earned a solid $62.7 million and should finish its run near the $80 million mark.

On the cusp of its big night at the Oscars, The King’s Speech saw a spike(17%) in sales over the weekend as folks rushed out to check the movie before it (possibly) wins Best Picture. On 2,386 screens in its fourteenth weekend, the Tom Hooper-directed drama added $7.6 million to its already bulging coffers which now stand at the $114.5 million mark. Should the film win the top prize tonight and should The Weinstein Company’s boneheaded movie to edit the movie down to a PG-13 rating (it shouldn’t have been rated R to begin with) pay off, the film could reach the $145-$150 million mark domestically. Overseas, The King’s Speech has earned $130 million thus far.

Has anyone noticed that the ads for Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son vanished after last weekend? That might help explain why the movie dropped 54% this weekend at the box office. Well, that or people hated what they saw last weekend as much as the nation’s critics did. In its sophomore session, the movie earned $7.5 million from 2,821 screens to bring its ten-day total to $28.5 million. At this rate, the Martin Lawrence comedy will have a hard time breaking the $45 million mark domestically which is approximately 40% less than its 2006 predecessor.

Hall Pass wasn’t the only movie to open and under-perform this weekend. The other wide release of the weekend, Summit’s 3D thriller Drive Angry also debuted. But unlike the Farrelly Brothers comedy, this film was DOA from day one. Opening on 2,290 screens, the latest Nicolas Cage dud earned a pathetic $5.1 million in estimated sales. The lowly debut was one of the all-time worst openings for a 3D film in wide release. The film received a 45% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes which was higher than top earner Hall Pass. Take that for what it’s worth. Rounding out the top ten was Screen Gems’ thriller The Roommate which added $2 million in estimated sales to bring its total to the $36 million mark.

Next weekend multiplexes welcome in the month of March with a quartet of new releases. Paramount will debut the Johnny Depp-voiced animated feature Rango, Universal will open the Matt Damon/Emily Blunt sci-fi/romance The Adjustment Bureau, CBS Films will release the teen romance Beastly and Relativity will open the Topher Grace 1980s-set comedy Take Me Home Tonight.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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