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Although the Academy Awards were the big event in the movie world this weekend, there was certainly some notable news at the box office as action war movie Act of Valor took the top spot by a wide margin. Tyler Perry only saw so-so results for his latest melodrama, and other newcomers Wanderlust and Gone tanked far down the list.
Spurred by pricey Super Bowl spots, an overall aggressive marketing campaign and a hook that connected with its target demographic, Act of Valor (starring active duty Navy SEALs) easily assassinated any competition with an extremely solid $24.5 million. This gives upstart distributor Relativity Media its third number one opening after Limitless and Immortals, both from 2011. With this solid take, 2012 continues its streak of having at least one over-performer every weekend.
Posting the second lowest opening of his auspicious career (beating out just 2007’s Daddy’s Little Girls), Tyler Perry scored an okay $15.6-million opening for Good Deeds. Although low for Perry, the absence of his wildly popular Madea character and the fact it landed in only 2,132 theaters (Act of Valor grabbed 3,039) limited breakout potential. With two more upcoming movies in 2012 (The Marriage Counsellor and Madea’s Witness Protection), we will see if this performance was an exception, or if his brand is fading.
The Top 101. Act of Valor - $24.5M (weekend)…$24.5M (gross)
Tanking in eighth was David Wain’s raunchy “hippie comedy” Wanderlust, which was only groovy enough to score $6.5 million. This was the second worst wide opening for Paul Rudd (exceeding 2008’s rom-com flop Over Her Dead Body) and third worst for when Jennifer Aniston was the star. Only Rock Star from 2001 and Rumor Has It from 2006 fared worse. An odd title, only moderately funny trailers and questionable starpower of Rudd and Aniston on their own contributed to this blunder.
Barely registering in ninth with $4.8 million was psychological thriller Gone starring Amanda Seyfried as a woman desperately searching for her kidnapped sister. Seyfried, while popular enough in ensemble works, cannot yet anchor a movie, especially one with a B-movie plot and horrid reviews. Expect this bomb to find its way to supermarket bargain bins promptly.
Two very different films enter theaters next weekend. Dr. Seuss adaptation The Lorax leads the way. The animated film will hunt for Truffula trees in a wide 3,600 showings. Targeting teens in 3,000 houses will be the Todd Phillips-produced Project X about a wild party that goes way out of control. The Lorax will certainly find families and Project X has breakout potential, so expect another strong weekend in this box-office rebound called 2012.