After a strong debut on Friday, Act of Valor went on to win the weekend with an estimated $24.7 million from 3,039 locations. Considering that this is an R-rated feature without any major stars, that’s a pretty remarkable start. Then again, with the fistfuls of cash Relativity devoted to marketing this Navy SEALs drama, anything less than first place would have felt un-American.
|1||Act of Valor||$24,700,000||$24.7|
|6||Ghost Rider 2||$8,800,000||$37.8|
|7||This Means War||$8,500,000||$33.5|
|10||Secret World of Arrietty||$4,500,000||$14.6|
With the stronger than expected first-place showing of Act of Valor, 2012’s string of winning weekends now stretches to eight in a row. However, considering that at this time last year the box office featured 2011’s lowest number one debut (Hall Pass with $13.5 million) and one of the year’s most notable flops (the $5.1 million debut of Drive Angry), there was no way that 2012 was not going to look like a cash-buffet in comparison.
That kind of profit was exactly what Relativity had in mind when it picked up the independently-produced Act of Valor for a reported $13 million. Of course, that was before the studio went all-out to promote its acquisition, buying four Super Bowl ads at a reported cost of $3 million each. That would have looked like overkill – if it hadn’t paid off. With its strong debut and good word of mouth, Act of Valor should pay back its investors by the end of its domestic run; and that’s a good thing. This is one movie that can’t rely on international interest to boost grosses.
At number two, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds is another film whose target demo is uniquely American. Unlike Act of Valor, however, Tyler Perry did not have to rely on Super Bowl ads to get his audience to turn out for this latest feel-good family drama. After the director/producer/star’s Madea Goes to Jail opened to an astounding $41 million in February of ’09, I swore that I would not underestimate the power of Perry ever again. Nine of the eleven “Tyler Perry Presents” features since 2005 have opened above $20 million – the benchmark for success among Hollywood heavy-hitters. Even without Madea in tow, it was not unreasonable to assume that Good Deeds would represent the latest in Perry’s long line of remarkable successes.
Instead, Good Deeds wound up with the second-lowest first weekend for a Perry feature since Daddy’s Little Girls in February 2007. But don’t feel sorry for Tyler Perry. Like all of his films, the budget for Good Deeds was a remarkably low $15 million. Feel sorry for Universal and everyone involved with Wanderlust instead. The comedy produced by Judd Apatow and starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston showed signs of trouble when it was moved from its original release date last fall. Tracking indicated that the film was not going to come close to a hit, but most assumed that its pedigree would take Wanderlust to a debut of at least $10 million. Instead, it pulled in just $6.6 million from 2,002 locations. At least that’s higher than Drive Angry got this week last year… right?
Luckily for Summit Entertainment, expectations for the Amanda Seyfried thriller Gone were never as high as for Universal’s Wanderlust. From 2,186 venues, Gone made an estimated $5 million this weekend which, believe it or not, was pretty much what was expected.
Not at all expected (at least not by me) was the success of Journey 2:The Mysterious Island. After three weeks in theatres, the sequel has earned $76.7 million here in the US. That is way ahead of the $60.4 million that Journey to the Center of the Earth had earned at the same point back in July of 2008. Who knew? And, speaking of holdovers, The Vow reached a huge milestone this weekend by passing the $100 million mark domestically.
After an incredibly profitable February, March has the potential to be even bigger, beginning with the release of The Lorax next weekend. The first week of last March was actually one of 2011’s rare bright spots – with Rango soaring to over $38 million – so here’s hoping that 2012 will be able to make it nine in a row.