'The Roommate' Bests 'Sanctum' to Top Super Bowl Weekend With $15.6 Million
James Cameron-produced 'Sanctum' opens at No. 2 with $9.2 million, while 'No Strings Attached' takes the third spot after surpassing the $50 million mark.
Sony/Screen Gems' thriller The Roommate topped the weekend box office thanks to young females, grossing an estimated $15.6 million to easily best Universal's Australian cave adventure-thriller Sanctum 3D.
Though a solid start for The Roommate, overall revenues at the domestic box office were down more than 23% from 2010, when Screen Gems' own Dear John opened to an especially good $30.5 million.
Dear John is the second best Super Bowl weekend opener of all time after Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.7 million); Roommate is the eighth.
Despite the extra bump from higher-priced 3D tickets and James Cameron's involvement, Sanctum couldn't crack the $10 million mark in its debut, although its $9.2 million opening gross was better than Universal anticipated.
Overseas, Sanctum -- executive produced by Cameron -- opened to $3.1 million in Australia and the U.K., a disappointing start.
But Universal and Relativity Media, which partnered in paying $12 million for distribution rights to Sanctum, say they are already on solid financial footing.
Super Bowl weekend is always hard for Hollywood, with theater traffic dropping substantially on Sunday.
The Roommate, starring Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester, was more immune. Of those buying tickets to Roommate, 65% were females, while 61% were under the age of 21. It's the first time in weeks that a movie has skewed that young. Roommate opened in 2,534 theaters.
"Roommate definitely reached its target audience. They went out in droves to see it," Sony worldwide president of distribution Rory Bruer said. "This is pretty cool for us."
Roommate's performance makes Sony the unqualified champ of the Super Bowl frame, since it's the eighth film from the studio to open at No. 1 on the weekend of the championship game. Many of those titles were from Screen Gems, and played heavily to females under the age of 25--the demo least interested in football.
Universal said Sanctum would have opened north of $10 million, and likely hit $11 million, had it not been for the big game.
Sanctum went out in 2,787 theaters, of which more than 2,000 were 3D runs, including 178 Imax locations. Imax runs turned in 17% of the gross, a strong showing.
"We're very happy to be in business with Imax," Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco said.
Box office observers say Sanctum was hindered by its claustrophobic subject matter, as well as not having any known stars.
Sanctum received a C+ CinemaScore, while Roommate drew a B-.
Roommate cost $16 million to make, and returns Screen Gems to good form after a rocky run for Burlesque.
Among holdovers at the box office, Paramount/Spyglass romantic comedy No Strings Attached jumped the $50 million mark in its third weekend, grossing an estimated $8.4 million from 3,030 theaters for a cume of $51.8 million, according to Rentrak.
No Strings came in No. 3, followed by the Weinstein Co.'s The King's Speech at No. 4. King's Speech grossed an estimated $8.3 million from 2,584 locations for a cume of $84.1 million.
King's Speech continued to feel the benefits of multiple Oscar nominations, falling only 25% from the previous weekend.
Among other award frontrunners, Paramount and Skydance Prods.'s True Grit fell 37% to an estimated $4.7 million for a cume of $155 million -- one of the best showings of all time for a Western. The film placed No. 8.
Fox Searchlight's Black Swan came in No. 10, grossing an estimated $3.4 million from 1,977 theaters for a cume of $95.9 million. the film fell 34%.
Roadside Attractions' Biutiful, earning Javier Bardem a best acting nomination, grossed an estimated $731,209 as it expanded to 177 screens for a per location average of $4,131.
Back on the top 10 box office chart, New Line/Warner Bros.' The Rite slipped to No. 6 in its second weekend, declining 62% to an estimated $5.6 million from 2,985 runs.
The Rite's cume is $23.7 million, not that far ahead of CBS Films' The Mechanic, which declined 53% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.4 million from 2,704 theaters for a total $20.1 million. Mechanic came in No. 7.
Rite was beat by Sony's The Green Hornet, which placed No. 5. Hornet declined 45% to an estimated $6.1 million for a cume of $87.2 million in its fourth weekend.
Among limited players, Sony Pictures Classics' Barney's Version -- earning Paul Giamatti a Golden Globe -- scored a per theater average of $5,341 in grossing an estimated $240,324 from 45 screens.
Sony Classics' Another Year more than doubled its theater count over the weekend. Film, nominated for a screenplay Oscar, grossed an estimated $501,922 from 236 screens for a so-so location average of $2,127.
IFC's The Other Woman -- starring Natalie Portman -- was scheduled to open over the weekend in New York and Los Angeles, but IFC didn't release numbers.