1. THE VOW- Obnoxiously tagged as "based on a true story," the latest Sparks adaptation starred Rachel The Notebook McAdams and Channing Dear John Tatum and vaulted to the top of the charts with an estimated $41.7 million over the weekend. The only clear pre-Valentine's Day choice, this one will likely sizzle on Tuesday and be all but forgotten come next weekend. No worries though, this melodrama cost only $30 million to produce.
2. SAFE HOUSE- Never count out Denzel Washington, even in middling, beginning of the year endeavors, his latest (co-starring Ryan Reynolds) took in $39 million in its first weekend, as a nifty sense of counter-programming to love-in weekend. Safe House cost $85 million to produce.
3. JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND- The 3-D sequel to the surprise Brendan Fraser family flick Journey to the Center of the Universe (2008) did pretty swell as well, reeling in families (and taking advantage of the inflation only cheap glasses can afford) with $27 million. I suppose the real trick in tackling a potential franchise is dropping its leading man and replacing him with The Rock.
4. STAR WARS: EPISODE 1- THE PHANTOM MENACE- George Lucas continues his streak of crapping on his fan boy base with the 3-D re-issue of one of the most misguided choices in the franchise movie making history. It still cashed in with $23 million.
5. CHRONICLE- Last week's champ dropped a reasonable 44% in week two for a total so far of $40 million. Icing on the bratty superheros cake: the $12 million production budget-- perhaps the biggest prank of all. Also the hopeful creative future for director Josh Trank.
6. THE WOMAN IN BLACK- Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter-follow is performing adequately, if not at the numbers he's known for-- in its second weekend, the period horror flick dropped 50% for a $35 million total so far. It will shortly however become distributor CBS Films highest grossing film to date surpassing 2010's The Back-Up Plan, which made $37 million.
7. THE GREY- In it's third week, the Liam Neeson survival tale has made $42 million. However, like The Woman in Black, upstart distributor Open Road Films should be pleased-- it's their highest grossing title of all time.
8. BIG MIRACLE- Drew Barrymore's save-the-whales true story dropped 49% in its second weekend for a sad total of $13 million.
9. THE DESCENDANTS- The only title in the top ten also nominated for Best Picture-- the Alexander Payne dramedy has made $70 million so far, and will become the writer\director highest grossing film ever in a few short days-- Sideways made $71 million in 2004. It dropped 23% in its thirteenth week of release.
10. UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING- Does anyone really watch these movies? Just curious, because I don't, and yet they keep coming. The last chapter has made $52 million in four weeks, offset by a production budget of $70 million, perhaps will this be the last one...
- The Artist- While secured at least of not being the lowest grossing Best Picture winner of all time (should it win), it's grosses aren't terribly impressive as the film has gone wider either. It also seems that on 800 screens, The Weinstein Company is appearing sheepish to fully release the charming, if reasonably hard sell, French black and white silent film. Ranking 13th place this weekend, down 12% for a total so far of $22 million. C'mon people-- this is majestic filmmaking.
- Hugo- Martin Scorsese's heavily Academy Award nominated film has made $64 million so far, a decent gross for a ridiculously expensive art film\homage to begins of the medium. It won't make its money back sadly.
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close ranked 15th over the weekend, the surprise Best Picture nominee has earned $29 million in eight weeks of release.
- We Need to Talk About Kevin is chugging along in quiet limited release. On 16 screens, the Tilda Swinton shocker has made nearly $500,000 for a decent $5,000 screen average after four weeks of release.
- Rampart, the Woody Harrelson corrupt cop morality play opened this past weekend after a one-week Oscar-qualifying run last November (I saw it then, it has some problems despite strong acting from Harrelson) earned $65,000 on 5 screens for an OK-screen average of $13,000. More on this one later.