January suffered another down weekend, with estimated grosses for the top ten films down almost 56% over this weekend in 2010. Paramount had reason to celebrate, as True Grit outdrew Little Fockers in the weekend race for the first time. Season of the Witch, 2011’s first new title, struggled while Sony/SG’s Country Strong did modest business in its first expanded nationwide run.
|3||Season of the Witch||$10,700,000||$10.7|
|8||The King’s Speech||$6,811,000||$33.2|
With the crazy dominance of Avatar last January, it is not surprising that business is down for 2011’s post-New Year’s period, right? The trouble is that it is also down significantly from 2009, when Gran Torino went wide, and 2008 when National Treasure 2 was enjoying its third weekend at number one. In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to the year 2000 to find a comparably low top ten. The subsequent years of the last decade each had number one films that dwarf this weekend’s estimate for True Grit; with 2006’s Hostel on the low end with $19.6 million and Avatar, again, the highest with (gasp) $50.3 million.
Back to 2011: despite edging into the top spot, True Grit actually declined by 39% over the New Year’s frame, earning an estimated $15 million and bringing its total cume to $110.4 million after 19 days. In terms of Westerns, the Coen Brothers’ take on True Grit now ranks third behind Dances with Wolves and Wild Wild West on the all-time list – though that placement does not take into account inflation or rates of attendance.
Speaking of weekends past, back in 2005 Meet the Fockers was enjoying its third weekend at number one with a gross of $28.5 million and a total cume of $204.3 million. Compare that to the current position of its sequel, Little Fockers, which has a third weekend estimate of $13.8 million and a total cume of $124 million.
Number three went to Relativity’s Season of the Witch with an estimated $10.7 million from its 2,816 locations. This puts the Nic Cage drama under the first weekend grosses for last year’s Kick-Ass ($19.8 million) and 2009’s Knowing ($24.6 million) though ahead of 2008’s Bangkok Dangerous which opened to just $7.7 million. On the positive side, Season of the Witch did manage to triple the debut weekend of Relativity’s The Warrior’s Way, which brought in just over $3 million in its debut last December.
After spending the past two weeks in two venues, Sony/Screen Gems’ Country Strong expanded its run to 1,424 locations this weekend. The country music drama brought in an estimated $7.3 million – well over the $4.2 million that Crazy Heart made after it went wide last February in the wake of Jeff Bridges Academy Award. Country Strong was edged out of the top five by the weekend’s strongest holdover: Black Swan. The ballet drama saw the smallest decline over New Year’s, falling just 6% and climbing three spots to number five.
After 24 days in theatres, Tron Legacy is still in the top five. Disney’s 3D revamp earned an additional $9.8 million this weekend, bringing its domestic total to $147.9 million and its worldwide cume above $257 million. Meanwhile, Fox’s Gulliver’s Travels, despite edging out Little Fockers for first place in the international market last week, fell out of the top ten here at home after only 16 days. The Jack Black fantasy, which cost a reported $112 million, has only managed a worldwide total of $83 million – 58% of that coming from overseas.
Next weekend promises a welcome box office hit in the form of Ron Howard’s The Dilemma. The combination of Vince Vaughn and Kevin James may prove irresistible to audiences who came out in force for both Couples Retreat and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Running in the unenviable counter-programming spot vs. The Dilemma is the long-awaited The Green Hornet. Who knows? After so many weeks of weak releases, perhaps there is room enough for both movies to excel. Here’s hoping.