Myth actioner earns $32 mil domestically

Relativity Media’s “Immortals” debuted to a better-than-expected estimated perf of $32 million from 3,112 domestic locations, which advances the film on the road toward profitability, though plenty of other factors are still at play.

B.O. observers had predicted the vfx-driven 3D epic to make around $25 million through Sunday, and Relativity said such a number would be a solid start toward recouping its $75 million investment after tax rebates. The studio further reduced that risk by about two-thirds, thanks to foreign pre-sales. But with exhibs taking roughly half of the eventual domestic B.O., and an approximate $35 million P&A spend for “Immortals,” Relativity will rely mostly on a squishy ancillary market to get it into the black on the pic.

Released internationally via local distribs, “Immortals” won the weekend overseas with north of $36 million from 35 territories, including China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the U.K. (Pre-sales to foreign distribs will prevent Relativity from collecting much of anything from the overseas B.O.)

The upcoming Stateside holiday play period should help, but numerous new entries (not to mention holdovers) will vie for aud attention.

Also bowing this weekend, Sony’s PG-rated Adam Sandler pic “Jack and Jill” debuted with an estimated $26 million, narrowly beating Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s stalwart toon holdover “Puss in Boots,” which fell just 23% in its third frame for a projected weekend take of $25.5 million. “Puss,” with an estimated Stateside cume of $108.8 million, could wind up edging out “Jack and Jill” in Monday’s actuals.

Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” aligned squarely with pre-weekend projections, grossing an estimated $11.5 million in three days. Warner Bros. launched the film in limited release on Wednesday before expanding wide two days later; five-day cume was $11.6 million.

In a more traditional platform release, Magnolia bowed Lars von Trier’s Cannes winner “Melancholia” at 19 engagements, scoring $270,000 for the weekend, with a good per-screen average of $14,210. Distrib plans to expand “Melancholia” into the top 20 U.S. markets on Friday.

Young auds back at B.O.?

For “Immortals,” one of the weekend’s biggest hurdles was enticing young moviegoers to the plexes. That demo has been especially absent from the B.O. of late, primarily because of a perceived hike in ticket prices.

But “Immortals” managed to attract enough young adults (pic’s rated R) to exceed expectations, earning 75% of its opening from filmgoers under 35, with the 25-34 age group contributing 38% of the B.O. The film’s performance in 3D — the 3D ticket upcharge is the main factor in the perception of higher-priced ducats — exceeded the recent norm at 66%. (3D accounted for approximately 70% of the film’s total location count.)

“I think the industry has been quietly concerned about whether that demo would come back to the cinema,” said Relativity prexy of worldwide distribution Kyle Davies. “Luckily, they have.”

Davies added that the film’s core demo responded well to 3D, in part, because of the pic’s glossy visuals. “This is a real epic adventure, and 3D adds considerable scope,” Davies said.

Young moviegoers, especially teen/tween femmes, should continue to visit the multiplex through next weekend, with “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ set to launch Thursday at midnight. But it’s unclear whether that demo will continue to turn out post-”Twilight.”

Some pundits seem to think so, especially with the holidays around the corner.

Warner domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman said “J. Edgar” will benefit as one of the only adult-targeted holiday pics in wide release. The film earned virtually all of its opening, at 94%, from auds over 25, with 66% of filmgoers over 50. “That’s the audience that the film needs during the holiday,” Fellman said.

Last year, Eastwood’s “Hereafter” earned $12 million during its first weekend of wide release and cumed $32.7 million domestically — typical for the helmer’s films.

The weekend’s opening trio all received so-so B CinemaScore ratings, though both “Immortals” and “Jack and Jill” earned slightly higher appraisals with younger auds.

Steady family market

“Jack and Jill,” budgeted at a reported $80 million, played to a sizable family aud, repping 53% of the film’s aud. Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer said parents helped give the pic a slight edge among over-25 moviegoers at 52%.

Bruer also credited Sandler as a dependable B.O. force, giving the pic potentially long legs. “I don’t think there’s anyone more consistent in Hollywood than Adam in regards to box office,” Bruer said.

Though Sandler films typically reach high multiples, the film will face tough competition on the family front over the next few weeks. That’s a concern for “Puss in Boots,” too.

Toon, which has cumed almost $157 million worldwide, benefited from an extra week of playtime before Thanksgiving, as Par moved up the pic’s bow to Oct. 28. In its third frame, “Puss” managed a better-than-expected hold just after the film’s remarkable 3% soph-sesh decline.

This weekend, “Puss” grossed an additional $4.5 million from four overseas markets for a cume of $48.1 million, the majority of which comes from Russia, where the film reached $43 million to date.

“Jack and Jill,” meanwhile, bowed day and date in Mexico, with $2.5 million — Sandler’s best-ever opening in that market, beating “Bedtime Stories” by 2% and “Just Go With It” by a commanding 57%.

Also performing well overseas, Paramount and Sony’s “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” tallied an estimated $26.7 million from 50 markets. Par, which reps the U.K. and a few Asian markets, contributed $5.1 million for the film this weekend; Sony has rights in all other markets currently playing the film.

Toon has tallied a hearty $159.1 million internationally. France leads the charge with $47.6 million, while Spain and Blighty follow, both contributing just north of $20 million.

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