Box Office Report: Young People Rush to See 'Chronicle,' 'Woman in Black'

11:37 AM PST 02/04/2012 by Pamela McClintock
20th Century Fox
"Chronicle"

"Chronicle" zooms past expectations to gross $8.7 million on Friday, "Woman in Black" likewise overperforms with $8.3 million; Drew Barrymore-John Krasinski whale pic "Big Miracle" opens to No. 4.

Fueled by younger moviegoers, who have been largely AWOL, 20th Century Fox's high school superpower pic Chronicle and CBS Films' horror-thriller The Woman in Black are doing far better than expected.

In a close contest, Chronicle grossed $8.7 million on Friday to top the box office, followed by Daniel Radcliffe starrer Woman in Black with $8.3 million. Both pics could now open to $20 million or better, a stellar showing for Super Bowl weekend.

For more than a year, movies have been skewing noticeably older, worrying the film business and contributing to diminished revenues. That trend reversed itself on Friday -- 61 percent of those buying tickets for Chronicle were under the age of 25, while 57 percent of Woman in Black's audience was under the age of 25.

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Chronicle received a B CinemaScore, while Woman and Black received a B-.

Both films are victories for their respective companies. Fox only spent $12 million to produce Chronicle, about a group of high school friends who acquire superpowers and use them to make mischief until one of them begins using them for darker purposes. The film was direced by 25-year-old Josh Trank and stars Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan and Michael Kelly.

Woman in Black, based on Susan Hill's novel of the same name, was produced by Hammer Film Productions and preemptively acquired by CBS Films just before the Cannes Film Festival last year. Also starring Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer, the ghost story was directed by James Watkins.

CBS Films spent $3 million to acquire the film.

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Woman in Black is hoping to pull ahead of Chronicle for the weekend since it is appealing to younger women, a demo less interested in the football than younger man. However, Chronicle played more evenly than expected on Friday, with females making up 45 percent of the audience. Females made up 59 percent of Woman in Black's audience.

The third new film of the weekend is Universal's family friendly whale pic Big Miracle, starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. The pic grossed $2.3 million on Friday to come in No. 4 behind Liam Neeson holdover The Grey, which grossed $3.1 million on Friday.

Universal's campaign for Big Miracle, receiving an A- CinemaScore, has targeted moms and girls, the latter being the demo least interested in football (that's why Disney opened Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour over Super Bowl weekend).

Directed by Ken Kwapis, Big Miracle is based on the 1989 book Freeing the Whales, and tells the story of the international rescue effort to rescue three gray whales trapped in ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. In the movie, Barrymore and Krasinski play a nonprofit aid worker and a government worker who develop a romance.

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