The last weekend in January may have been off by a little over 10 percent from last year, but we also saw some attempts at original ideas, which certainly should not be overlooked — even if some of them didn’t pan out too well.
Dark fairy tale re-imagining Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters made a reasonably sweet debut at the top spot with $19.7 million dollars. While that’s over last March’s Mirror Mirror ($18.1 million), it’s a far cry from the other fractured fairy tale Snow White and the Huntsman ($56.2 million), which may not be a fair comparison, seeing that Hansel and Gretel opened in the usually dismal January and the latter opened in a more advantageous Summer spot last year. With star Jeremy Renner’s stock continually climbing, overseas grosses tallying much higher, and word-of-mouth starting strong, it’s possible Hansel and Gretel will become a hit, even if it’s not a domestic one.
Last week’s horror entry Mama continued to scare strong in second place with $13 million. The film had a 53.9 percent decline, which, though being the steepest decline in the Top 10, is fairly standard for a horror film in January. With a total gross of $48.9 million, it’s looking to out-gross every horror film that came out last year.
Academy Award-nominated Zero Dark Thirty continued its steady decline, dipping another 38.6 percent for a final weekend gross of $9.7 million, which was good enough for third place. After taking honor in lesser known awards ceremonies, the Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild Awards were awarded to last year’s other talked-about CIA thriller Argo, and the torture controversy has ebbed significantly, relying on audience word-of-mouth alone, which, according to Metacritic, is not nearly as strong as the critics’ reviews, meaning a final gross below $100 million could be inevitable.
Meanwhile, fellow Oscar nominee Silver Linings Playbook eased a mere 12 percent to a weekend gross of $9.4 million, landing in a very close fourth place. Unlike Zero Dark Thirty, the romantic dramedy continues to have stellar word-of-mouth, thanks to a SAG Award win for star Jennifer Lawrence over the weekend, new ad campaigns pointing out the film is the first in 31 years to be nominated in each of the four acting categories, and a very relatable premise. As long as it continues to perform this well in the four weeks to come before the Oscar telecast next month, a final domestic gross north of $100 is conceivable.
Parker seems to be another blotch on star Jason Statham’s box office record, grossing a paltry $7 million, starting off in fifth place. It seems Statham simply cannot carry a movie on his own. Even with co-star Jennifer Lopez in the film (who almost seems like box office poison as of late), the film’s opening grosses are far from those of action ensemble films The Expendables ($34.8 million) and its sequel ($28.6 million), showing that Statham needs other big names (arguably bigger names) to help carry the movie.
Granted, Statham’s Expendables co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger’s clout seems to have completely diminished, as his latest film The Last Stand tumbled 65.8 percent to a gross of $2.2 million, which landed in 15th place this weekend. With a total gross of $10.7 million in two weeks, it seems that the former Governator is not quite the box office draw anymore.
The final new release this weekend, the experimental Movie 43, did not fair so well either, grossing only $4.8 million over the weekend. The lack of success of Movie 43 can be attributed to the ad campaign. Though there have many films that have succeeded by cryptic ad campaigns (Inception, for instance), the “What is Movie 43?” campaign, though showing amusing clips from the movie, did not show a discernible plot (which, ironically, the film has), which often scares moviegoers away, causing the film to become the first certifiable flop of the year. There is a silver lining, though. With Movie 43‘s $6 million budget reportedly being recouped already by foreign ticket sales and a completed Netflix deal, anything the film makes is pure profit — something most (if not, all) the other films this year won’t be able to brag about. Of course, with another crowded box office and the Super Bowl next weekend, it’s probable the film won’t go very far.