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Summit Entertainment’s Warm Bodies — a new spin on the zombie genre — topped the weekend box office with a solid $20 million debut thanks to younger females, while Sylvester Stallone‘s new action pic Bullet to the Head turned in a grim $4.5 million.
Despite Warm Bodies, overall box office grosses were down 26 percent from last year’s Super Bowl weekend, when Chronicle debuted to $22 million and The Woman in Black bowed to $20.9 million.
Warm Bodies — billed as a paranormal romantic comedy — stars Nicholas Hoult as a zombie who rescues a girl (Teresa Palmer) from imminent death at the hands of his fellow undead. An unlikely romance develops, setting off an unforeseen chain of events.
The film hit its target demo of younger females – the group least interested in the Super Bowl. Women and girls made up 60 percent of the audience, while 65 percent of those buying tickets were younger than 25. The movie received a B+ CinemaScore.
“It was a perfect storm. The material was unique — we’re even joking it’s the biggest ‘rom com zom’ in history,” said Lionsgate executive vice president of distribution David Spitz. “We made a conscious decision to sell this as a romantic comedy, versus as a zombie pic, and it paid off. Our marketing was amazing.”
Jonathan Levine directed Warm Bodies, based on the popular young-adult book by Isaac Marion (Summit, of course, is the studio that adapted Stephenie Meyer‘s blockbuster YA Twilight series).
Paramount’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters came in No. 2 in its second weekend, falling a relatively narrow 44 percent to $9.2 million and putting its domestic total at $34.5 million.
Oscar best picture contender Silver Linings Playbook continued to wow, coming in No. 3 in its 12th week of release with $8.1 million, down only 14 percent from the previous weekend. The Weinstein Co. film has earned $80.4 million domestically and is now virtually assured of hitting $100 million in North America.
Silver Linings isn’t the only best picture nominee continuing to prosper at the box office. Zero Dark Thirty grossed $5.2 million for the weekend to place No. 5 and push its domestic total to $77.8 million. Django Unchained, Lincoln and Les Miserables remain in the top 10 as well, with Lincoln jumping the $170 million mark.
Bullet to the Head skewed notably older, with 81 percent of the audience over 25. It’s the third R-rated action movie in a row to tank, after The Last Stand and Parker, and the pic is certain to suffer on Sunday because of the Super Bowl.
Produced and financed by Joel Silver‘s Dark Castle Entertainment and IM Global/Reliance, Bullet to the Head is based on the French graphic novel Du plomb dans la tete. It stars Stallone as a hitman who teams up with a young Washington, D.C., detective (Sung Kang) to track down a team of ruthless criminals behind two murders that brought them together in the first place. Warner Bros. is releasing the movie domestically per its deal with Dark Castle.
Soft in its limited debut was the crime comedy Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. The movie, from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, grossed $1.5 million from 659 theaters for a location average of $2,276. In the film, Pacino’s character is reunited with his old partner in crime after serving 28 years in prison, only to find that his partner has his own ax to grind.
Sony Pictures Classics’ The Gatekeepers, about Israel’s secretive internal security service, posted the top location average of the weekend, opening to $66,777 from three theaters for a theater average of $22,226.
Here are the full results for the weekend of Feb. 1-3 at the domestic box office:
Title, Weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume (*denotes Oscar best picture nominee)
1. Warm Bodies, 1/3,009, Summit, $20 million
2. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, 2/3,375, Paramount/MGM, $9.2 million, $34.5 million
3. *Silver Linings Playbook, 12/2,809, The Weinstein Co., $8.1 million, $80.4 million
4. Mama, 3/2,781, Universal, $6.7 million, $58.3 million
5. *Zero Dark Thirty, 7/2,871, Sony/Annapurna, $5.3 million, $77.8 million
6. Bullet to the Head, 1/2,404, Warner Bros./Dark Castle, $4.5 million
7. Parker, 2/2,238, FilmDistrict, $3.2 million, $12.4 million
8. *Django Unchained, 6/1,777, The Weinstein Co., $3 million, $151 million
9. *Les Miserables, 6/1,848, Universal, $2.44 million, $141.5 million
10. *Lincoln, 12/1,765, Disney/DreamWorks, $2.41 million, $170.8 million
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