Box Office: ‘Chronicle’ Writes Its Own Success Story

By  · Published on February 6th, 2012

It was a close race, one that could get switched around when the actual numbers hit on Monday, but, for now, the combination of teenage superheroes and the found footage technique has given Chronicle the edge over The Woman in Black. Chronicle’s $22m ranks it high on the found footage subgenre, above movies like The Last Exorcism ($20.3m opening in 2010) and Quarantine ($14.2m opening in 2008). It’s a solid number regardless but all the more impressive considering Chronicle’s reported $12m budget. Found footage movies weren’t looking to slow down any time soon anyway, but this debut clenches it. We’ll be certainly seeing more found footage movies covering a broader range of genre. Before we know it someone will be pitching an idea of holiday, family drama told from the point of view of home movies. That’s not even saying anything to the idea of Chronicle getting its own sequel. It definitely will.

But the Hammer Horror side of things isn’t looking too grim, at least not for their financial success. The Woman in Black was also kind to CBS Films, whose previous biggest opening as The Back-Up Plan with $12.2m. The film didn’t stand up to the openings for films like Sleepy Hollow, which debuted to $30m in 1999 but had the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp factor behind it. The Woman in Black might not have amazing longevity. That $21m opening weekend is sure to be the bulk of its domestic take, but expect more Hammer Horror film to find their way into theaters in the coming future. Christopher Lee is still alive and well and, I’m sure, expecting their call.

The big miracle about Big Miracle sure wasn’t seen in its box office take. At $8.5m, it came in even lower than our admittedly conservative estimation. With a reported $40m price tag, it has a long way to go before turning a profit for Universal, but the home market might be where the film sees its biggest money intake. With the up and down nature of director Ken Kwapis’ career, we might be seeing his next couple of project hit limited release or even go straight to DVD. Big Miracle 2 is eyeing those Redbox kiosks as we speak to say nothing of a proposed Beautician and the Beast sequel. That was a total lie, and you should disregard it as soon as possible.

For the most part movies sank harder this weekend than expected. Four returning films dropped 50% or more with Underworld Awakening taking the biggest hit. The Grey was a big surprise, though. Expectations were for repeat viewings especially with many missing out on the post-credit scene where Nick Fury asks Liam Neeson to join The Avengers. Old joke. Still, if The Grey continues taking subsequent, weekend hits, it’s going to be a while before its considered a huge, financial success. It’s reported price tag is $25m, already in the black without considering marketing costs and the split with the theaters. It could find its footing in the next, few weeks and end up a success. That planned October re-release won’t hurt matter, either.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. Chronicle – $22m NEW
  2. The Woman in Black – $21m NEW
  3. The Grey – $9.5m (-51.7%) $34.7m total
  4. Big Miracle – $8.5m NEW
  5. Underworld Awakening – $5.6m (-54.7%) $54.3m total
  6. One For the Money – $5.2m (-54.4%) $19.6m total
  7. Red Tails – $5m (-51.8%) $41.3m total
  8. The Descendants – $4.6m (-28.2%) $65.5m total
  9. Man on a Ledge – $4.5m (-43.8%) $14.7m total
  10. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – $3.9m (-43.8%) $14.7m total

The $89.8m the top 10 made this weekend wasn’t as low as expected, but that won’t stop some from pulling the word “slump” out of mothballs. The first weekend in February is never a huge earner, the Super Bowl being the main competition for the movie industry as a whole. Most weekends Hollywood doesn’t even try. Last year saw The Roommate and Sanctum as the only wide releases, while 2010 has Dear John and From Paris With Love. 2010 was an anomaly with Dear John raking in $30.4m and Avatar still reeking havoc at $20+m a weekend in its eighth week out. What we’re trying to say, though, is that, yes, the box office was down this weekend, but it was expected.

Any frowns brought on by this weekend will certainly be turned upside down with the nice slew of movies we have to look forward to next weekend. Safe House, The Vow, and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island are all potential hits, but the main attraction is the 3-D re-release of The Phantom Menace. George Lucas critics have stated time and time again that they won’t be seeing these 3-D re-releases, but that won’t stop all six of these films from making serious bank. Here’s hoping Lucas doesn’t have another Red Tails on his hands with these converted editions.

We’ll be back later in the week to see how the weekend is shaping up.