Weekend Box Office: Super Bowl Can’t Slow Down Chronicle and Woman in Black

Weekend Box Office: Super Bowl Can't Slow Down Chronicle and Woman in BlackTwo new films, CBS Films’ The Woman In Black and Fox’s Chronicle both opened strongly and within a million dollars of each other in terms of gross at the box office this past weekend. The third and final debut of the weekend, Universal’s family drama Big Miracle opened to soft numbers.

Super Bowl weekend is normally a dead zone for movie going but this year appears to be a different story. While most films will see Sunday drops of close to 70% thanks to the much-anticipated rematch between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, the box office still did enough business on Friday and Saturday to compensate for the deficit. Overall, grosses for the top ten surged 31% over this time last year.

In the cinematic equivalent of a Super Bowl match that came down to the wire, Fox’s Chronicle managed to eke out a win over CBS Films’ The Woman in Black by a mere one million dollars. Being that we are talking studio estimates, this could change when final numbers are reported on Monday afternoon. But for now, the latest “found footage” feature is taking pole position with an estimated $22 million debut on 2,907 screens for a very good per screen average of $7, 568.

In addition to striking a chord with audiences, critics seemed to like Chronicle as well. They bestowed the film with a solid 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If ticket buyers fall in line with the critics, Fox could see a nice return on this low-budget production.

Daniel Radcliffe returned to movie screens this weekend in his first role since concluding the Harry Potter franchise last summer, the Hammer Films production of The Woman In Black, co-starring Ciaran Hinds (who also had a small role in the final Potter film). While the period-piece ghost story didn’t score as well with critics as Chronicle did (a so-so 62% approval on Rotten Tomatoes), Woman did hit it off with ticket buyers. Debuting on 2,855 screens, the CBS Films’ pickup earned an estimated $21 million for a frightfully good per screen average of $7,356. Woman was the second production for the resurrected Hammer Films following last year’s Let Me In.

Last weekend’s champ, the Liam Neeson survival drama The Grey eased by 51% to earn an estimated $9.6 million on 3,207 screens. To date, the Open Road production has earned a decent $34.7 million and should work its way to $55-60 million by the end of its domestic run. Neeson should have two films in the top ten by this time next weekend as the 3D reissue of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace opens next Friday.

The third debut of the weekend was the Universal family feature Big Miracle starring John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore. The well-received feature (71% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) encountered some ticket buyer resistance in the 2,129 venues as evidenced in its $8.5 estimated opening. As with many family features, if word-of-mouth is encouraging from those who did venture out to see the whale tale, the movie could hold up over the next few weeks since competition among the family demographic is all but non-existent right now.

Continuing its fast burn, Sony’s Underworld: Awakening landed in fifth place during its third weekend. Off 55%, the Kate Beckinsale hit earned an estimated $5.6 million on 2,636 screens to bring its three-week total to $54.3 million. The film should call it a day with $65 million in the domestic coffers. And yes, a fifth one is in the works.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

6. One for the Money (Lionsgate) $5.25 million (-55% from last weekend) $19.6 million total

7. Red Tails (LucasFilm/Fox) $5 million (-52%) $41.3 million

8. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) $4.6 million (-28.2%) $65.5 million

9. Man on a Ledge (Summit Entertainment) $4.4 million (-44%) $14.3 million

10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Warner Brothers) $3.9 million (-44%) $26.7 million

In addition to the 3D reissue of The Phantom Menace, next weekend will bring the debuts of Safe House, The Vow and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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