Film looks to scare away holdover competition

On the heels of a sweet holiday weekend, Paramount’s Martin Scorsese thriller “Shutter Island” will look to scare away holdover competition at the domestic B.O. as the frame’s lone wide release at 2,991 engagements.

Warner Bros.’ “Valentine’s Day” enters its soph sesh after becoming the all-time highest opener over Presidents Day weekend with $63.1 million; 20th Century Fox’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” and Universal’s “The Wolfman” also performed solidly over the four-day frame with $38.7 million and $35.6 million, respectively.

At the specialty B.O., Summit launches its Roman Polanski-directed thriller “The Ghost Writer,” starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, at four locations in New York and L.A.

Typical of frames following a holiday weekend, studios expect to see a sizable drop somewhere between 50% and 60%, which should bode well for the frame’s lone fresh offering.

Originally skedded for release last Oct. 6, “Shutter” was delayed in order to cut the studio’s fourth-quarter marketing costs, which left many insiders questioning whether or not the pic was troubled.

Par prexy of distribution Jim Tharp said the studio is pleased with the decision so far.

“When we put it on that date, nothing else was there,” Tharp said. “You really only had to worry about whatever else was in the market from the weekend prior; it has a great opportunity to run.”

Pic, which bowed out of competition last week at the Berlin Film Fest, is adapted from author Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel about U.S. Marshals, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, who investigate a missing-woman case at an insane asylum during the Cold War era.

Scorsese’s top opener was Warner’s 2006 Oscar best pic winner “The Departed,” also starring DiCaprio, with $26.9 million.

Tracking for the R-rated pic is strongest among adults and evenly split among men and women.

According to studios, holdover potential for Fox’s “Percy” looks good, while Warner’s “Valentine’s Day” may have trouble holding its ground after such a successful bow, having cumed $68 million as of Wednesday. “Percy” totaled $42 million.

U’s “Wolfman” also held strong during the week with totals at $39 million, but the R-rated monster horror pic could lose auds to “Shutter” as both films target similar demos.

Entering its tenth frame, Fox’s “Avatar” still plays nicely in the top ten with four-day earnings totaling $28.8 million and a domestic cume of $666.4 million.

Fox Searchlight saw healthy box office performances last weekend with Oscar-nommed “Crazy Heart” taking in $5 million at 1,005 and will boost playdates to 1,089 this weekend.

Distrib also saw a healthy limited launch of its Bollywood drama “My Name Is Khan,” becoming the highest opening for a Bollywood film in the U.S. with $2.3 million at 103 Stateside locations, expanding to 125.

Roadside Attractions debuts two films in limited release this weekend: Demi Moore starrer “Happy Tears” at 15 locations and “The Good Guy,” starring Alexis Bledel, at 10.

Overseas, Par plans a day-and-date release of “Shutter” in territories including Argentina, Spain and the U.K.

Summit’s “Ghost Writer” also launches day and date in Germany and Austria.

“Valentine’s Day” saw surprisingly strong returns last weekend internationally, totaling $35 million on 4,600 screens in 57 markets, with France, Italy and Brazil yet to open this week.

Likewise, “Percy” and “Wolfman” opened day and date in a few markets, including France, where “Percy” earned $3.2 million at 538, while “Wolfman” saw limited bite with $1.7 million at 388. “Percy” will expand to markets including Argentina and Spain, while “Wolfman” opens in Italy this weekend.

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