Debut pair earn north of $20 mil each to top weekend

Super Bowl weekend’s top B.O. players, Fox’s “Chronicle” and CBS Films’ “The Woman in Black,” fought their way to the end zone, with the former pic earning $22 million to eke out a narrow victory over “Woman,” which is estimated to have made $21 million through Sunday.

On a worldwide scale, “Chronicle” was the clear winner, collecting $13 million from 33 day-and-date overseas markets for a global tally of $35 million.

Snowstorms across northern Europe had some impact on international grosses, while Super Bowl Sunday is a notorious box office trough. Based on past trends, “Chronicle” and “Woman” were both estimated to see Saturday-to-Sunday drops in the high 60% range — typical for Super Bowl Sunday.

Regardless of Sunday’s totals, both debuts were impressive, helping boost Stateside totals some 36% over this time last year.

“Chronicle,” about a group of teens who discover they have superhuman powers, cost a reported $12 million (not including P&A), while CBS Films’ acquired the Daniel Radcliffe starrer “Woman in Black” last May for $3 million, with an added $15 million marketing spend.

In fourth place for the weekend, Universal’s $40 million family film “Big Miracle” opened to an estimated $8.5 million.

Of the opening trio, “Big Miracle” is projected to be the most Super Bowl-proof, with U estimating a 43% drop from Saturday to Sunday. That’s because the film scored more than half of its opening gross from families, according to the studio, mainly skewing toward moms and kids.

Open Road’s holdover “The Grey” fell a respectable 52% in its second frame, yielding a third-place weekend take of $9.5 million. Domestic cume is $34.8 million.

Also in their second outing, Lionsgate’s “One for the Money” and Summit’s “Man on a Ledge” dropped 54% and 44%, respectively. “Money” grossed an estimated $5.3 million in three days, bringing its cume to $19.7 million, while “Man” collected $4.5 million for a domestic tally of $14.7 million.

At the specialty B.O., Madonna’s “W.E.” averaged a solid $11,250 weekend per-screen average from four Stateside engagements. Released by the Weinstein Co., pic expands next weekend to the top 10 U.S. markets. It grossed an estimated $45,000 through Sunday.

Game on for ‘Chronicle’

Fox’s low-budget thriller marks a notable win for the studio, especially given the recent absence of teenage male moviegoers.

“The good news here is that the young, ‘I don’t really want to see movies’ teenage crowd came out,” said “Chronicle” producer John Davis, before praising the studio’s aggressive viral marketing campaign targeted at younger auds. “We could tell that audiences really responded to the materials.”

“Chronicle” earned 61% of its debut perf from under-25 auds, but played only slightly better with men. The film also had a strong 18% uptick on Saturday vs. the previous day, a significant stat given that the majority of filmgoers under 25 buy tickets for opening night.

“This is a very innovative and unique film that touched a nerve,” said Fox distribution exec Chris Aronson.

Under-25 auds gave “Chronicle” a B+ CinemaScore rating, while overall it received a B.

“Woman in Black” skewed mostly toward women under 25, who also gave the film a B. “Woman” averaged a B- from all demos.

The film, from Cross Creek Pictures, as well as Hammer Film Prods. and Alliance Films, generated the largest domestic opening so far for CBS Films, outstripping the distrib’s previous-best $12.2 million bow for 2010′s “The Back-Up Plan.” Radcliffe likely boosted appeal for “Woman” among teenagers and twentysomethings, who have been chatty about the star on social networking sites.

Like “Chronicle,” “Woman” also saw a nice change from Friday to Saturday, up 15%. However, past horror films, including last year’s “The Roommate” and 2009′s “The Uninvited,” saw steep drops (north of 70%) on Super Bowl Sunday.

So-so family ‘Miracle’

U’s “Big Miracle” looked to capitalize more on a recently neglected family market, offering the first pic with a family-friendly rating since Disney’s 3D re-release of “Beauty and the Beast” four weeks ago.

“Miracle” drew a A- CinemaScore. “It’s important to note that our exit polls support the strong CinemaScore rating,” said U distribution prexy Nikki Rocco, who added that she believes the film will stay a top choice for families in the coming weeks.

“Big Miracle” opened day-and-date in just two markets, Portugal and Russia, underperforming with an estimated $300,000. Pic will expand to other overseas territories throughout this month into March.

Elsewhere on the international front, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” grossed the most, posting a weekend take of $25.8 million from 64 markets. That includes China, where “Mission” has cumed a stellar $55.7 million.

“Ghost Protocol” cruised past the $400 million mark internationally for a worldwide tally of $627.5 million, making it Tom Cruise’s biggest global grosser ever (“War of the Worlds” posted $591.7 million).

Meanwhile, last year’s other holiday highlight, Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” with $311 million internationally, is closing in on its predecessor’s international cume of $315 million. “Sherlock” is skedded to bow last in Japan on March 12.

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