Box Office Report: 'The Grey,' 'One for the Money' Strong Out of the Gate

4:23 PM PST 01/27/2012 by Pamela McClintock
Open Roads Film

UPDATED: Liam Neeson's "The Grey" firmly on course to win the weekend with $14 million-$17 million weekend; Katherine Heigl's "One for the Money" overperforming at No. 2.

Friday brought more good news at the domestic box office as both The Grey and One for the Money posted better than expected numbers during matinee and early evening shows.

Katherine Heigl starrer One for the Money in particular impressed after sluggish tracking. From Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment, the action-comedy should gross $4 million to $5 million on Friday for a weekend gross of $10 million to $13 million--far more than anyone expected.

One for the Money--based on the popular Stephanie Plum detective novels by author Janet Evanovich--now has a strong shot of coming in No. 2 for the weekend behind The Grey unless holdovers Underworld: Awakening and Red Tails overperform in their second weekends.

Starring Liam Neeson and directed by Joe Carnahan, The Grey is easily in the lead. The pic--cementing Neeson's relatively new-found status as an action star via Taken and Unknown- is expected to gross $5 million or $6 million on Friday for a weekend gross in the $14 million to $17 million range.

Tom Ortenberg's Open Road Films is handling The Grey, about a group of men stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after a plane crash (the cast also includes Frank Grillo and Dermot Mulroney). The $25 million pic was produced by Liddell Entertainment and Scott Free Productions.

One for the Money generated strong matinee business because of older women, the target audience. Lionsgate and Lakeshore are partners on the $42 million film, with much of the budget covered through foreign presales.

 

Lionsgate raised eyebrows among some of its rivals when pacting with Groupon to offer discounted tickets for One for the Money. Roughly 20 million Groupon members were offered the chance to buy one ticket for $6, and $12 for two tickets.

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The weekend's third new film, action-thriller Man on a Ledge, starring Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks, couldn't boast the same good news. The Summit Entertainment pic could only gross $2 million to $2.5 million on Friday, meaning a $6 million to $7 million weekend.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradin produced Man on a Ledge, about a hard-living police negotiator (Banks) who tries to talk down an ex-cop and fugitive (Worthington) who is standing on the ledge of a New York high-rise. 

One twist--Lionsgate and Summit dated Man on a Ledge and One for the Money long before Lionsgate bought Summit (the marriage was consummated earlier this month). Normally, one company wouldn't date two films on the same weekend.

Summit also offered discounted tickets for Man on a Ledge via Living Social.

The awards box office will be extra busy this weekend as films try to parlay top Oscar nominations into added attention (the noms were announced on Tuesday).

Best picture nominee The Descendants, from Fox Searchlight, aggressively expanded from 560 locations to 1,997. The George Clooney film was doing decent business on Friday and could end up in a close race with Man on a Ledge.Directed by Alexander Payne, the film has already grossed $52 million at the domestic box office.

Paramount is adding roughly 300 theaters to Hugo's run for a total location count of 965. Directed by Martin Scorsese, Hugo 11 nominations, the most of any film, including best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay (John Logan). The pic has grossed $56.3 million to date domestically.

The Artist, which received 10 top Oscar nominations, also ups its profile, moving into a total of 897 theaters. From the Weinstein Co., the awards frontrunner has grossed $13.1 million to date, but has only been playing in a small number of theaters, whereas Descendants and Hugo are adding back runs.

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Warner Bros.' best picture contender Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close also is poised to benefit, since it only expanded nationwide last weeked after playing in six theaters since Christmas Day. The film has earned $13.2 million domestically.

Films scoring acting nominations also will try to score attention, including Roadside Attraction's Glen Close starrer Albert Nobbs, which has only been played so far in a qualifying run. This weekend, the film moves into a total of 245 theaters (Close was nominated for best actress).

Although it isn't expanding, Focus Features and Working Title's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy could benefit from Gary Oldman's nomination for best actor. The specialty pic has turned into an arthouse hit, grossing nearly $20 million to date. The Weinstein Co.'s The Iron Lady, earning Meryl Streep a best actress nomination and grossing $13.9 million to date, likewise could benefit this weekend.

Sony Pictures Classics' A Separation, nominated for best foreign language film, and IFC/Sundance Select's Pina, nominated for best documentary and directed by Wim Wenders, also could see an uptick.

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