Box Office Report: “Warm Bodies” Heats Up Super Bowl Weekend

Though Super Bowl Weekend often leads to a quiet box office, the three-day frame has seen its fair share of surprising hits, particularly from counterprogramming like Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds Concert and Dear John that appealed heavily to females while guys were out getting psyched for the game. Though the success of Taken and last year’s Chronicle prove that men are willing to head out and catch a movie on this holy weekend, this year was another one for the ladies, as Warm Bodies, the romantic zombie comedy from the popular young adult novel by Isaac Marion, debuted in the top spot, followed by a string of disappointing hold overs and an abysmal return for Sylvester Stallone, all of which continued the box office depression that plagues the first two months of the year. Read on for a full box office breakdown, including the top 10 movies in America:

Top 10 Movies
1. Warm Bodies – $19.5 mil
2. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – $9.2 mil
3. Silver Linings Playbook – $8.1 mil
4. Mama – $6.7 mil
5. Zero Dark Thirty – $5.3 mil
6. Bullet To The Head – $4.5 mil
7. Parker – $3.2 mil
8. Django Unchained – $3.0 mil
9. Les Miserables – $2.43 mil
10. Lincoln – $2.41 mil

With a hearty $19.5 million, Warm Bodies claimed the top spot over the Super Bowl weekend, proving two things in the process. The first is that zombies are both incredibly popular (between the end of the Twilight franchise and the robust popularity of AMC’s The Walking Dead and Warm Bodies’ #1 debut, it appears the supernatural pop culture tides are changing in the zombies’ favor) and financially friendly (the film only cost $30 million to make and market, meaning Warm Bodies is heading for a successful run in theaters). By giving the zombie film a rom-com, almost independent film twist, director Jonathon Levine (50/50) was able to transcend the genre (which never reaches great box office heights) and create a movie tailor made for girls and young woman – the marketing was more about the romance between a zombie and a human than it was about zombie terror. That brings us to our second thing: the fact that young adult (YA) novel adaptations continue to be tremendously popular and safe bets for sturdy grosses. All of this should bode well for Beautiful Creatures, the next highly anticipated YA adaptation with a supernatural spin due out on February 14th.

In last week’s Box Office Report, I commented on the state of violence at the movies, and it appears the trend of “action films bombing hard” continued yet again this weekend as Bullet To The Head, Sylvester Stallone’s first actioner since 2009’s Rambo, failed miserably with a paltry $4.5 million in 6th place, by far the worst debut out of any of 2013’s handful of action duds. Similar to Gangster Squad, The Last Stand, and Parker (all of which took more than 50% drops this weekend), Bullet To The Head marketed nothing but its star power (or in the case of Stallone, lack of star power) and its huge, over-the-top explosions, guns, and smack-downs, resulting in another dismal debut for a male-oriented film. Though the question still remains over whether or not audiences are rejecting violence post Sandy Hook, the box office continues to suggest that audiences are merely being more selective, more conscientious, and more aware of the movies they are watching in the times they are watching them. It’s clear that violence and explosions will always be staples of American cinema, but box office gross no longer depends on when and how these acts of violence occur but rather WHY; in other words, violence must mean something (to the story, to the character, to the theme, etc.) in order for it to work and to be well marketed for the 2013 moviegoer. All of this is once again summed up perfectly in Django Unchained’s slim 38% drop in its 6th week of release. If audiences were rejecting violence, than it would’ve been impossible for this revenge western to become the highest grossing film of Tarantino’s career with $150 million and counting. All of this will culminate with A Good Day To Die Hard on February 14th; though Stallone and Schwarzenegger are dying brands, Bruce Willis is arguably the most relevant action star from a previous generation and if there’s anyone to turn around the recent action depression at the box office, it’s him and John McClane.

Elsewhere, genre fare plummeted as well, with last weekend’s winner, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, dropping 51% to $9.2 million in second place. With a weak $34 million in two weeks, there’s no way this revisionist fairytale is making back its $50 million budget domestically. Horror movie Mama also fell nearly 50%, though with a profitable $58 million and counting opposite a slim $15 million budget, this Jessica Chastain starring, Guillermo del Toro produced horror movie is one of the 2013’s early success stories. Same goes for Silver Linings Playbook, which continued to ride tremendous word of mouth to gross $8.1 million, only down 14% from last weekend. With 8 Oscar nominations and $80 million already in the bank, Silver Linings could very well be headed to a near $100 million final gross, a truly impressive feat considering the film is an R-rated adult romantic comedy. Also of note was Ben Affleck’s unstoppable Oscar frontrunner Argo, which was rereleased this weekend to coincide with its gangbuster awards momentum and improved 15% to gross another $2 million, another impressive feat considering the film came out last October.

Did you guys to the movies this weekend? What did you see? Can the box office be saved from its current woes? We’ll find out next week when Steven Soderbergh’s twisty Side Effects and the latest R-rated comedy, Indentity Thief, hits theaters.

Article by Zack Sharf

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