After two super-charged weekends at the movies, the North American box office fell back to Earth. In fact, just about the only thing super this weekend was the moon and to be honest, there must have been kryptonite in the air last night since there was nothing super about it. Leading all comers at the box office was Mr. Bradley Cooper and his super-charged brain and abs (see how I’m milking this theme?) in the science fiction thriller “Limitless” which tells the story of a washed-up writer who, after taking a top-secret drug, becomes the smartest man on the planet. Though many box office “experts” predicted the movie would gross somewhere between $12 and $15 million, studio estimates placed its final weekend number way past those expectations at a not-so-shabby $19 million. Not surprising if you ask me. Parent studio Relativity Media had been pimping the flick on virtually every television station and show including a prime spot during the Super Bowl last month (or was it two months ago? – I can’t remember. I may have to order some of those pills). It’s good news for Cooper who can now prove that he can carry a movie all on his own.
Johnny Depp and his rag-tag group of rats, lizards and cockroaches (read: vermin) kept the momentum of “Rango” going in its third weekend by holding on to the second spot. The animated homage to westerns about a chameleon who moonlights as a sheriff in a small western town picked up an estimated $15.3 million, down only 32% to lift its total up to an impressive $92 million. By this time next weekend, it will be the highest grossing release of 2011 – a record it will likely hold until the end of April. And it did it all without the help of useless 3-D.
Last week’s box office king-pin, the epically titled “Battle: Los Angeles” dropped two spots to third place for a weekend haul of $14.6 million. That’s a torturous 59% drop from its opening weekend. Yikes! Looks like the only battle this alien invasion actioner is going to have to face is word-of-mouth. Still, with $60 million already in the bank, I doubt Sony studio executives will be losing sleep. I just hope people stop comparing the film to “District 9” which is ten times the film “Battle: LA” is.
Rounding the top five were a pair of well-received new releases. The critically acclaimed courtroom drama “The Lincoln Lawyer” starring Matthew McConaughey (yea, I can’t believe Matthew McConaughey actually made a good movie either!) landed on the charts in fourth place with an estimated $13.5 million. Not bad, but far from McConaughey’s best. Looks like audiences prefer McConaughey shirtless rather than in slick suits. Regardless, word-of-mouth for the R-rated thriller is likely to be strong.
Fifth place went to alien comedy “Paul” starring British duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as a pair of nerds who have a close encounter with a pot-smoking alien named Paul (conveniently voiced by Seth Rogan). Though the comedy, which picked up an estimated $13.1 million, was nowhere as good as the duo’s previous two collaborations “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” it’s easily their most successful collaboration.
NEXT WEEK: Two new releases hit multiplexes – both with a realistic shot at the top spot. 20th Century Fox releases the sequel “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” which hopes to capture the same audience that made its predecessor a surprise hit last March. Zach Snyder also returns to theaters with his latest ultra-stylized, overly-violent action picture “Sucker Punch.” Though the month of March has been a very good month for Synder (all of his live-action films – “Dawn of the Dead,” “300” and “Watchmen” opened successfully here), I’m not sure who exactly is really looking forward to this one. Though the visuals look “cool,” who exactly is this movie targeting? Fanboys? Teenage girls? Anime fans? This is either going to have a huge opening or become a gigantic disaster. Considering Synder is helming the upcoming Superman reboot “The Man of Steel,” let’s all hope it’s the former.
Here’s the full box office top ten for the weekend (total domestic gross in parentheses):
- LIMITLESS – $19 Million
- RANGO – $15.3 Million ($92.5 Million)
- BATTLE: LOS ANGELES – $14.6 Million ($60.6 Million)
- THE LINCOLN LAWYER – $13.4 Million
- PAUL – $13.1 Million
- RED RIDING HOOD – $7.2 Million ($25.9 Million)
- THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU – $5.9 Million ($48.7 Million)
- MARS NEEDS MOMS – $5.3 Million ($15.4 Million)
- BEASTLY – $3.2 Million ($22.2 Million)
- HALL PASS – $2.6 Million ($39.5 Million)