In an unusual feat, Gnomeo rose to No. 1 in its third weekend — The Blind Side and True Grit did the same — grossing an estimated $14.2 million for a cume of $75.1 million, according to Rentrak.
Gnomeo, made by the now-shuttered Miramax and released under the Touchstone banner, fell only 26% from last weekend.
Hall Pass, from New Line, grossed a soft $13.4 million from 2,950 theaters. The picture had been expected to open at least several million dollars higher, but didn’t get enough young adults and older teens. A full 72% of the audience was over the age of 25.
Nicolas Cage action pic Drive Angry 3D, the weekend’s other new film, was dead on arrival. The movie, distributed in the U.S. by Summit Entertainment, grossed an estimated $5.1 million to come in No. 9.
Year to date, domestic box office revenues are down more than 21%, and distributors are growing resigned to the fact that the gap won’t close until summer, when younger moviegoers should return to the multiplex en masse.
Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony was expected to take a bite out of the weekend box office, although Gnomeo was more immune because of strong matinee business.
Gnomeo wasn’t the only positive coming out of an otherwise tough weekend.
Paramount’s maverick decision to provide diehard fans with a director’s fan cut of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never succeeded in sparking repeat business in the film’s third weekend.
Never Say Never fell only 29% to an estimated $9.2 million for a cume of $62.8 million. It should eclipse the $65.3 million cume for Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour this week.
Jon M. Chu‘s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Director’s Fan Cut included 40 minutes of new footage, and is only playing in 3D theaters.
There also was continued interest in award frontrunners on the eve of the Academy Awards.
The Weinstein Co.’s Oscar The King’s Speech was up 17% from last weekend for a new domestic cume of $111.2 million. King’s Speech placed No. 8 for the weekend.
Elsewhere on the box office chart, Liam Neeson action-thriller Unknown placed No. 3 for the weekend. The Warner Bros./Dark Castle release fell 43% to an estimated $12.4 million for a cume of $42.8 million in its first 10 days.
Sony’s Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy Just Go With It continued to hold well in its third frame, grossing an estimated $11.1 million for a cume of $79.4 million, and coming in No. 4.
Just Go With It was in a close race with DreamWorks Studios and Touchstone’s teen sci-fi thriller I Am Number Four, which fell 43% in its second weekend to an estimated $11 million for a cume of $37.7 million.
New Regency and 20th Century Fox’s Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son saw a bigger dip in its second weekend, falling 54% to an estimated $7.6 million for a cume of $28.6 million.
Hall Pass received a middling B- CinemaScore. Warner Bros.’ marketing team succeeded in getting plenty of women (or 45% of the audience), but age-wise, the R-rated comedy played older than expected.
Only 22% of the audience was between the ages of 18 and 24, the perceived sweet spot. And 27% of the audience was over the age of 35.
Warner Bros. insiders say the jury is out on Hall Pass, starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis, until after its second weekend.
Drive Angry, produced by Nu Image/Millennium, was also rated R. About a crook who is released from hell to save his granddaughter, Drive Angry drew a C+ CinemaScore. Nearly 70% of the audience was male, while 61% was over the age of 25.
Gnomeo‘s strength comes from being the only family offering in the marketplace.
“We’re thrilled that our filmmakers get to bask in the limelight of being No. 1 in the movie’s third frame,” Disney president of worldwide distribution Chuck Viane said.
At the specialty box office, the Metropolitan Opera continued to enjoy success with its Met Live in HD program. Saturday’s transmission of Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride into 840 theaters across the country generated $1.75 million in revenues. An additional 90,000 people saw the opera — starring Susan Graham and Placido Domingo — on 550 screens in 28 countries.
Sony Classics Pictures scored the best location average of the weekend for acclaimed French film Of Gods and Men. The movie opened to an estimated $66,950 from three theaters at the domestic box office for an average of $22,317.
Samuel Goldwyn Films’ faith-based film The Grace Card grossed an estimated $1.1 million as it opened in 352 theaters for a location average of $3,100.
IFC Films opened Canadian film Heartbeats at the IFC Center in New York. The French-language pic grossed $7,300.