Weekend Box Office – LIMITLESS Takes Number One with $19 Million

     March 20, 2011


After pulling ahead of the pack on the traffic jam that was this Friday’s box office, Relativity’s Limitless stayed on top with an estimated $19 million from its 2,756 locations.  Fellow newcomers Paul and The Lincoln Lawyer had more modest starts, making this one more in 2011’s long line of down weekends.

Title Weekend Total
1 Limitless $19,000,000 $19
2 Rango $15,300,000 $92.6
3 Battle: Los Angeles $14,600,000 $60.6
4 The Lincoln Lawyer $13,400,000 $13.4
5 Paul $13,200,000 $13.2
6 Red Riding Hood $7,255,000 $25.9
7 The Adjustment Bureau $5,930,000 $48.7
8 Mars Needs Moms $5,310,000 $15.4
9 Beastly $3,260,000 $22.2
10 Hall Pass $3,600,000 $39.6

limitless-movie-image-bradley-cooper-01This weekend will end up below 2010 levels by approximately 10% – again.  One year ago Alice in Wonderland was riding its third weekend at number one with $34.1 million and the movie that debuted in third place, The Bounty Hunter, was considered a slow starter due to its $20.6 million debut.  Right now I’m sure either Paul or The Lincoln Lawyer would gladly grab that kind of slow…

Even with Bradley Cooper and a nice, toned-down PG-13 rating, Limitless was not expected to get above the mid-teens.  I’m not sure where that lack of confidence came from – the film has had fairly decent reviews – but I’m guessing that the presence of Robert DeNiro made a box office victory seem extremely unlikely.  Then came that Friday win and now Limitless can claim to have “overachieved” by getting just under $20 million.  Got to love those low expectations!  The film has a reported budget of just $27 million so, low expectations or not, this is clearly a good day to be on the PR team at Relativity.

After falling to fourth on Friday, Rango saw a nice Saturday rebound – finishing in second place on its third weekend in release. That’s not surprising considering Rango is the only viable family film on the market (and yes, that’s a dig at Disney’s Mars Needs Moms which, despite a second weekend hold of 77%, has a total domestic gross of just $15.4 million and a budget ten times that high). Meanwhile, last weekend’s top earner, Battle: Los Angeles, declined by an estimated 60% this weekend which was pretty standard for its genre.  In its second weekend in 2009 Cloverfield fell by 68.3%.  Cloverfield also debuted with over $40 million, of course, a figure that took Battle: LA five days to reach.

The_Lincoln_Lawyer_imageLionsgate’s The Lincoln Lawyer placed fourth for the weekend with an estimated $13.4 million from its 2,707 locations.  A week ago I mentioned that I hadn’t seen a lot of advertising for the Matthew McConaughey vehicle and now I know why.  Groupon.  Seems that Lionsgate partnered with the online coupon site, offering $6 Lincoln Lawyer tickets to members.  So, if you are not a 45 year old housewife from Long Island you may have missed that bit of PR magic.  The studio was responsible for reimbursing theatre owners for the lost revenue, so the question is – how did they arrive at their estimate this week?  I am sure a studio would never artificially inflate its earnings so I am not going to get too ‘Conspiracy Theory’ on those Lincoln Lawyer figures.  I always mention the price premium on 3D movies so I have mentioned the price differential here as well.  The number of Groupon discount tickets redeemed was apparently fairly small (19,000) but if you want to argue for a different outcome on this title because of the promo, that’s what the comment section is for.

Finally, color me sad to see Paul down to number five for the weekend.  The sci-fi comedy from Simon Pegg and director Greg Mottola earned an estimated $13.2 million from its 2,802 locations.  That was below most projections which put Paul on track for the high teens or slightly better.  The film has had good reviews (71% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) but Universal did not aggressively market to general audiences, which could account for the disappointing turnout.  The reported budget for Paul is $40 million.

Next weekend Zac Snyder is back from his detour through Ga’Hoole with the action movie Sucker Punch.  The director’s 300 was a big hit back in March of 2007 so let’s see if the formula holds when the warrior is a hot, blond, mental patient instead of Gerard Butler.


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