After last weekend's Super Bowl madness, audiences were in the mood for a different kind of game--be it mind games or the challenge of cheating death--as the top three box office spots were dominated by new releases.
The new spy drama The Recruit took top honors with a decent $16.5 million*, while second place holder Final Destination 2 nearly caught up to The Recruit with $16.2 million. The third spot belonged to Biker Boyz with a slim $10.1 million.
Pushed down to the number four and five spots were last weekend's winners Kangaroo Jack at $9 million and Darkness Falls with $7.5 million.
THE TOP TEN
This weekend's box office topper, Buena Vista's PG-13 The Recruit, opened with an ESTIMATED $16.5 million at 2,376 theaters ($6,944 per theater).
Directed by Roger Donaldson, it stars Colin Farrell, Al Pacino, Bridget Moynahan and Gabriel Macht.
The film revolves around a brilliant college graduate (Farrell) who is recruited by a CIA veteran (Pacino), sent to The Farm--the Agency's treacherous, mind-boggling training program--and programmed to be one of the spy elite.
"Al Pacino always delivers a great performance, and when you put him with Colin Farrell, the combination just whetted the appetite of the public on all sides," Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney, told the Associated Press.
Ever wonder how you could cheat death? New Line Cinema's R-rated Final Destination 2 gave us a few hints, as it opened at No. 2 with an ESTIMATED $16.2 million at 2,834 theaters ($5,716 per theater), just barely missing the top mark.
Directed by David R. Ellis, it stars A.J. Cook, Ali Larter and Michael Landes.
The sequel to the 2000 horror hit Final Destination further explores the possibility of escaping the vindictive Death, as a girl, with a premonition of a horrific car pileup on a highway, saves her friends from that particular fate, only to see them picked off one by one in other, more gruesome ways.
AP reports Final Destination 2 easily out-grossed its predecessor, which opened with $10 million. Russell Schwartz, president of domestic marketing for New Line, told AP he expects the sequel to at least match the $53 million total gross of the original Final Destination.
Coming in the third spot, DreamWorks' PG-13 Biker Boyz opened with an ESTIMATED $10.1 million at 1,766 theaters ($5,719 per theater).
Directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood, it stars Laurence Fishburne, Derek Luke, Orlando Jones, Kid Rock and Lisa Bonet.
The film follows the lives of lawyers and city workers who take to the streets by night in their leather gear to race in the world of underground motorcycle clubs.
Amazingly, Warner Bros. PG-rated Kangaroo Jack slipped only two notches to the No. 4 spot with an ESTIMATED $9 million (-22%) at 2,848 theaters ($3,172 per theater), even beating last weekend's top winner Darkness Falls. Its cume is approximately $45.8 million. Crikey!
Directed by David McNally, the silly comedy about a kangaroo who inadvertently makes off with some mob money into the wilds of the Australian Outback stars Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson and Estella Warren.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 Darkness Falls certainly toppled from its top perch to claim fifth place with an ESTIMATED $7.5 million (-38%) at 2,865 theaters (+28 theaters; $2,618 per theater). Its total haul is approximately $22.2 million.
Pic revolves around a young man who, having escaped the Tooth Fairy's unrelentingly evil clutches as a boy, must return to save his hometown from the curse which has plagued it. This weekend, however, cheating death is apparently more exciting than cheating the Tooth Fairy.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, it stars Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield and Lee Cormie.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Miramax Films' PG-13 Chicago lost a little of its jazz, dipping from third place to sixth with an ESTIMATED $7.1 million (-13%) at 623 theaters (+7 theaters; $11,461 per theater). Yet, if Miramax opens this musical extravaganza wide, you may see the Oscar-touted film shoot back up the charts. Chicago's cume is $50.7 million.
Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
The box office charts wouldn't be complete without a few Hobbits. New Line's PG-13 smash The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers still held power in its seventh week, slipping two spots to No. 7 with an ESTIMATED $5 million (-24%) at 2,175 theaters (-491 theaters; $2,299 per theater). But here's the real kicker--its total box office grosses to date is now approximately $315.9 million. Not too shabby.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 Just Married fell one spot to take eighth place with an ESTIMATED $4.9 million (-24%) at 2,408 theaters (-297 theaters; $2,035 per theater). The tale about a honeymoon from hell has gained a respectable $49.8 million so far.
Directed by Shawn Levy, it stars Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy.
Ninth place belonged to DreamWorks PG-13 Catch Me If You Can with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-26%) at 2,316 theaters (-460 theaters; $2,073 per theater). Its cume is approximately $151.9 million.
The biopic about con artist Frank Abagnale Jr. is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken.
New Line's R-rated About Schmidt dropped one spot to tenth, rounding out the list with an ESTIMATED $4.7 million (-13%) at 1,236 theaters ($3,803 per theater). The classic slice of Americana has gathered a noteworthy $44.3 million to date with only limited release. Imagine what it could do if it goes wide.
Directed by Alexander Payne, it stars Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney and Kathy Bates.
Universal Pictures' R-rated The Guru opened in limited theaters with an ESTIMATED $648,000 at 62 theaters ($10,452 per theater).
The comedy is about an Indian man who comes to seek his fame and fortune in America but winds up becoming the next "It" guru, spouting sexual advice to New York's lonely elite. Directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, the films stars Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham and Marisa Tomei.
Overall, the box office numbers for the top 12 films jumped 18 percent from last weekend's dismal $79.9 million, with a total haul of $94.6 million.
"This was a really strong weekend for a January, which is usually kind of slow," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations told AP. "To have two films over $16 million is not bad at all."
This weekend also saw a 20 percent increase from the same weekend last year, which took in only $78.5 million.
Last year, Sony's R-rated Black Hawk Down dominated the box office in its sixth week with $11.1 million at 3,143 theaters ($3,536 per theater); Buena Vistas' G-rated Snow Dogs was second in its third week of release with $10.1 million at 2,454 theaters ($4,156 per theater); and Warner Bros.' PG-13 teen drama A Walk to Remember held the third spot in its second week with $8.8 million at 2,420 theaters ($3,651 per theater).
Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry) arrives in New York from India with dreams of becoming an actor and several misguided notions about American life gleaned from watching Grease. Ramu gets his first part belatedly realizes it's in a porn film and is unable to deliver the goods for costar Sharonna (Heather Graham). She gives him a pep talk--his body is a rose waiting to unfold and God wants us to have sex--but to no avail; not even sexy Sharonna can charm the snake. A very dejected Ramu then lands a gig playing a drunken swami hired to entertain a soul-searching socialite Lexi (Marisa Tomei) at her birthday party and he teaches the party guests about sex and God--using Sharonna's words. Lexi convinced that Ramu will be the next Deepak Chopra vows to help him after she experiences his charms firsthand as it were and Ramu seeing a way to fulfill his dreams of fame convinces Sharonna to teach him her philosophy. In exchange he offers to buy her a fancy wedding cake for her forthcoming marriage to Rusty (Dash Mihok) a devout Catholic who thinks she's a substitute teacher named Sheryl--and a virgin. Sharonna agrees to Ramu's deal but given her subterfuge insists that Ramu keep her ideas private. He doesn't nor does he let her in on his new career as a sex guru. They both have their little secrets but as Ramu and Sharonna explore the ways of love the only secret that matters is the way they feel about each other.
We've seen Graham do her porn star-with-a-heart-of-gold act before as Roller Girl in Boogie Nights but no matter how skilled she may be at playing that role there is no way she can say "My pussy is the door to my soul " with either sincerity or conviction nor can she make it the least bit amusing. The film is full of line after line of insane garbage like this and it's made worse by the fact that we have to hear each line once from Graham and then again from Mistry (The Mystic Masseur) as he plays guru to socialites around the city. At least both the leads are easy on the eyes and have the expressive faces necessary to deliver deadpan schmaltz but when it comes to the musical numbers and the slapstick shtick they both seem uncomfortable in their own skin--and that translates into an awkward desperation that permeates the film. Since they share much of the ridiculous and decidedly un-funny dialogue Graham and Mistry don't come off as well as Tomei (In the Bedroom) who at least has a few decent one-liners; unfortunately she delivers them in same whiny voice she's relied on since her Oscar win for My Cousin Vinny.
Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer (Party Girl) the granddaughter of Hollywood screenwriter Edwin Justus Mayer calls The Guru "a movie about other movies " saying that "Ramu's ideas about America come from American films he's seen growing up in India." First and foremost among those films is Grease: of the film's four big musical numbers the most recognizable is an Indian take on "You're the One That I Want" that features costumed dancers in vibrant colors and recalls the ways Bollywood films re-invented the classic musicals of the '30s. These scenes are some of the most intriguing in the film; they're well-produced and beautifully shot yet like the performances of the two leads they're awkward somehow as if everyone involved in getting the shots was uncomfortable with the idea and knew it wasn't going to turn out quite the way they planned. But The Guru fails for one reason more than any other: it's said that there are no new stories in Hollywood but the ideas presented in this movie--Indian culture and emigration the myth of the American dream Bollywood resurrecting the '30s musical New Age gurus sex and God porn stars as purveyors of sexual truth--are each so distinctive that the film can't find a coherent focal point even in the tried and true romantic comedy genre and neither can its audience. To its credit though the failure is a case of trying to do too much which is far better then doing too little.
"If it’s not funny on the day, it will never be funny. The idea that you can manufacture comedy in the edit is, in my experience, a fallacy." - von Scherler Mayer, to Filmmaker, March 8, 2013, http://filmmakermagazine.com/65854-five-questions-with-some-girls-director-daisy-von-scherler-mayer-and-producer-patty-west/
"I would say that TV has made me faster and more decisive but I’ll break with the crowd and say that isn’t always better." - von Scherler Mayer, to Filmmaker, March 8, 2013, http://filmmakermagazine.com/65854-five-questions-with-some-girls-director-daisy-von-scherler-mayer-and-producer-patty-west/