LOS ANGELES While many Americans camped out in front of their televisions with seven-layer dip watching the Super Bowl, a handful of teen girls headed to the multiplex.
Young female moviegoers pushed Warm Bodies into the end zone at the box office on a weekend when ticket sales are traditionally sluggish because of the massively popular Sunday football event. The romantic comedy, about a girl who falls in love with a zombie, debuted with a healthy $20.3 million, according to an estimate by the distributor, Summit Entertainment.
The only other film that landed in theaters nationwide last weekend, Bullet to the Head, took a hit. The action movie starring Sylvester Stallone was aimed at older men, but they didn’t show up in big numbers: The picture started with a dismal $4.5 million.
The most Super Bowl-appropriate film in theaters, the Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, continued to add to its stretched-out run for the Weinstein Co. The film, which centers on a family of die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans, came in third place, adding about $8 million, for a cumulative total of $80 million.
Warm Bodies collected the seventh-highest gross for a Super Bowl weekend, not adjusting for inflation; ticket sales were down 24 percent from last year.
Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label has a winner in the well-reviewed zombie flick, which stars new young Hollywood faces Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. The studio spent a modest $30 million to produce the movie, and it could benefit from good word of mouth in the coming weeks. Those who saw it last weekend - 65 percent of whom were younger than25, and 60 percent of whom were female - assigned the picture an average grade of B-plus, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
The movie’s opening could also be good news for 23-year-old Hoult, who is headlining Warner Bros.’ $150-million-plus Jack the Giant Slayer next month. Although the actor found success as a child star in 2002’s About a Boy, this is his first big-screen leading role since then.
Bullet to the Head is a disappointment for Stallone, who had staged something of a comeback with the success of his The Expendables franchise. Bullet, in which the 66-year-old actor plays a hit man seeking revenge on a murderer, drew an audience that was 60 percent male and 81 percent older than 25. But viewers gave it an average grade of B minus.
Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution, said the studio opted to release the film last weekend in the hope that it might replicate the success of a movie like Taken.
The good news for Warner Bros. is that the studio is only releasing the film, which was financed by India’s Reliance Entertainment. The poor box office marks a lackluster end to a 25-year-long partnership between Warner Bros. and Joel Silver’s Dark Castle Entertainment, which produced the film. The studio terminated its relationship with Silver at the end of 2012.
Lionsgate opted for a limited release of another film for men last weekend, Stand Up Guys, which opened in 659 theaters. The movie, starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin as con men, has not received good reviews and did not open well. Playing in the country’s top 75 markets, it grossed $1.5 million for a weak per-theater average of $2,256.
MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 02/08/2013
Print Headline: Gals ditched game for Bodies