Weekend Box Office – CHRONICLE and THE WOMAN IN BLACK Both Break $20 Million on Super Bowl Weekend

     February 5, 2012

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It didn’t claim the record for highest debut or the greatest attendance, but this year’s Super Bowl weekend still caught most box office watchers by surprise with two bigger-than-expected openings. Fox’s Chronicle was first with $22 million from 2,907 locations, but CBS Films’ The Woman in Black was right on its heels with $21 million from 2,855. That’s the first time that two titles have opened to over $20 million on a Super Bowl frame since… ever.

Title Weekend Total
1 Chronicle $22,000,000 $22
2 The Woman in Black $21,000,000 $21
3 The Grey $9,500,000 $34.7
4 Big Miracle $8,480,000 $8.5
5 Underworld Awakening $5,600,000 $54.3
6 One For The Money $5,250,000 $19.6
7 Red Tails $5,000,000 $41.3
8 The Descendants $4,600,000 $65.5
9 Man on a Ledge $4,460,000 $14.7
10 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close $3,925,000 $26.7

chronicle-movie-posterOne week ago I was busy trying to decide which of this year’s Super Bowl Weekend releases would distinguish itself by reaching $15 million, the plateau set by 2011’s The Roommate. Even with a string of ‘up’ weekends to its credit, it seemed beyond optimistic to imagine that 2012 would deliver us two films that would overperform on this, most mediocre of box office weekends. But that is exactly what happened.  Serves me right for trying to predict something!

Starting at the top, Fox’s Chronicle is a “found footage” thriller in the Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity mold, albeit with one huge difference. The found footage in question does not reveal a monster or a ghost but something far more terrifying: a teenager with superpowers. That particular focus explains why my (mostly trustworthy) magic box-office eight ball saw little chance for Chronicle to rise above $15 million this weekend.

If you’ve been paying attention to box office trends over the past two years or so, you know that teenaged superhero movies have been a consistent source of commercial disappointment. Kick-Ass, I Am Number Four, Percy Jackson and the Olympians all had less-than stellar domestic runs. In fact, one of the most troubling issues concerning the recent box office is the lack of interest the under 25 crowd has been exhibiting for new releases (not just for films targeting their own wish-fulfillment fantasies). Now, to say that the teens are back just because Chronicle put up better numbers than anticipated would be silly; but at least it gives the studios some encouragement.

the-woman-in-black-quad-posterAnd speaking of encouragement, underdog CBS Films is feeling very encouraged this morning thanks to The Woman in Black. The supernatural thriller starring Daniel Radcliffe nearly doubled initial projections to give the young studio its biggest first weekend by far (the previous high was 2010’s The Back-Up Plan with $12.2 million). Because The Woman in Black has been attracting a mostly young and female audience, there is a chance that the film’s Sunday estimate could go higher while today’s male-skewing sporting event plays out. But even if it stays in second with $21 million, it only cost CBS Films $3 million to acquire the film so, like I said, pretty damn encouraging…

Not quite as encouraged on this Super Bowl weekend are the folks at Universal. Their Big Miracle, a heartwarming family tale about saving marine life that is in no way to be confused with Dolphin Tale, was the only major new release that didn’t bust out of its projections by Sunday. Even though Big Miracle didn’t overperform, its three-day estimate of $8.5 million from 2,129 locations was still on track with both studio projections and tracking data so no one can claim to be disappointed.  Plus, there’s always the chance that families who hate football will turn out on Sunday to drive the Big Miracle estimate up… because, yeah, there are tons of families who hate football in America.

Thanks to those big wins from Chronicle and The Woman in Black, the box office is up over 30% from last Super Bowl weekend, giving 2012 a perfect record of kicking 2011 in the grosses.  Next week will be interesting as two 3D sequels of questionable appeal hit theatres: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and the re-release of The Phantom Menace. As someone who vividly recalls their first theatrical experience with Episode One, I literally cannot wait to see how audiences react to its 3D conversion. Can. Not. Wait.

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