Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sluggish box office race ends in a tie

Sluggish box office race ends in a tie, Counting "The Master," which expanded to 788 theaters on Friday, moviegoers had five new releases to choose from over the weekend. Perhaps not surprisingly, parity ruled the roost.

Based on Sunday estimates, new films "End of Watch" and "House at the End of the Street" tied atop the box office with $13 million in tickets sales. Close behind in third place was "Trouble With the Curve" with $12.7 million.

While the numbers are low -- the top-12 films earned an estimated $76 million, the third-lowest total of 2012 -- all three films could be considered a success. "End of Watch," a cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal, cost a reported $7 million to produce, but was acquired by distributer Open Road for just $2 million. As's Nikki Finke notes, the film earned an A-minus grade on Cinemascore, meaning audience word-of-mouth could be strong.

"House at the End of the Street" cost slightly more (around $10 million), but Relativity wisely waited to release the horror thriller until after star Jennifer Lawrence appeared in "The Hunger Games," giving the film a higher profile for audiences.

As for "Trouble With the Curve," its opening weekend is in step with previous Clint Eastwood films over the last 15 years. "Curve" earned roughly the same amount as "Million Dollar Baby" did upon its wide release in 2005. However, the "Curve" gross did pale in comparison to "Gran Torino," as that film opened with $29 million in 2009.

While those newcomers faired well, the same cannot be said for "Dredd." The Lionsgate action film opened in sixth place with just $6.3 million. Even last weekend's champ, "Resident Evil: Retribution," which fell 68 percent from its opening total, earned more than "Dredd."

The other wide release was "The Master," Paul Thomas Anderson's mercurial Oscar contender. After a record-breaking limited release opening, "The Master" earned $5 million in weekend two. The film had the highest per-screen average in the top-12, but many Oscar prognosticators were wondering why The Weinstein Company expanded "The Master" so quickly in the first place.
Title: Sluggish box office race ends in a tie
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