Box Office: Unknown Takes #1 from Number Four

The Reject ReportIt was supposed to be a weekend of franchise makers, a President’s Weekend that kept the upswing in the overall box office alive and thriving. Unfortunately, none of the new films in wide release this weekend lived up to their expectations. Even Unknown, which surprised by pulling ahead of I Am Number Four early in the weekend, was unable to match the mid $20-million target anticipated for it.

That’s not a major setback for the people involved in Unknown, a mid-range, rather accessible thriller that reportedly cost $30 million to make. Its opening weekend was only a few million shy of Taken‘s opening weekend ($24.7 million in 2008), so the potential for this new Liam Neeson film to bring in bucket of cash in the long run is still there. Even with adult-oriented action/thrillers set for release in the coming weeks – films like Drive Angry 3-D and The Adjustment Bureau – The chance for Unknown to still be considered a huge hit is alive and well.

The same may not be so easily stated for I Am Number Four, the anticipated top drawer this weekend. The first of what could possibly be a trilogy of films, it wasn’t even able to rake 1/3 of its reported $60-million budget. With word of mouth not being all that strong for the film, its numbers in the coming weeks are likely to spiral downward relatively quickly. DreamWorks owns the rights to the novels follow-up, The Power of Six, but that project may be left on the shelf permanently unless things turn around for I Am Number Four in the long run.

The third times the charm for the Big Momma’s House franchise. At least for the audience. Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son was unable to come anywhere close to the opening weekends for the previous two films. Like I Am Number Four, unless the coming weekends serve up some surprises in regards to Big Momma’s drop-offs, this could be the end of the Big Momma saga. Saga isn’t exactly a word you might fit alongside Big Momma’s. Myth may be more suitable. Legend if you’re feeling really generous.

With one week to go in the Oscar race, The King’s Speech was able to break past $100 million in domestic sales. Likewise for Black Swan.

Apropos to nothing in comparison to Oscar contenders, it should also be noted Tron Legacy matched its reported $170-million budget in domestic ticket sales. Worldwide the film has grossed $383.9 million, a strong indicator that a sequel could very well be on the horizon.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. Unknown – $21.7m NEW
  2. I Am Number Four – $19.5m NEW
  3. Gnomeo and Juliet – $19.4m (-23.5%) $50.4m total
  4. Just Go With It – $18.2m (-40.4%) $60.7m total
  5. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son – $17m NEW
  6. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never – $13.6m (-53.9%) $48.4m total
  7. The King’s Speech – $6.5m (-9.2%) $103.2m total
  8. The Roommate – $4.1m (-49.5%) $32.6m total
  9. The Eagle – $3.5m (-59%) $15m total
  10. No Strings Attached – $3.1m (-46.3%) $66m total

The $126.6 million brought in by the top 10 this weekend is hardly anything to turn your head at. It’s down from the previous weekend’s $127.9 million, but by very little. The fact that none of the new releases this weekend were able to live up to their expectations may say more about the predictors than it does the actual films or even the industry as a whole.

It won’t be as easy to oversell next weekend’s fare. Both Drive Angry 3-D and Hall Pass are R-rated films neither of which will be looking to break any box office records. In all likelihood, they will top the box office. However The Farrelly Brothers aren’t exactly pulling There’s Something About Mary numbers any more, and R-rated Nicolas Cage isn’t winning anyone a G6, either.

We’ll be back on Thursday night to see how the weekend is shaping up.

Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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