'Woman in Black,' 'Chronicle,' 'Big Miracle' vie in B.O. wildcard

Super Bowl weekend can be a box office wild-card due to steep Saturday-to-Sunday dropoffs, so bizzers are butting heads on weekend projections. A trio of wide openers, including CBS Films chiller “The Woman in Black,” Fox’s “Chronicle” and Universal’s whale-themed “Big Miracle” will look to gain B.O. yardage.

Woman in Black,” which launches today at 2,855 Stateside locations, could hold well on Super Bowl Sunday, as the film targets a mostly female demo. In contrast, supernatural teen thriller “Chronicle,” at 2,907 playdates, is aimed at young men, while U’s PG-rated “Big Miracle” (2,128) should attract healthy numbers of moms and kids on Sunday.

Entering the weekend, “Woman in Black” maintains a slight edge over “Chronicle,” commanding three times the number of first-choice votes from women.

Observers expect “Woman in Black” to hit $10 million-$12 million through Sunday, followed by “Chronicle” and “Big Miracle,” which could see bows somewhere in the high single digits. But with the big game’s uncertain impact onSunday B.O., both “Chronicle” and “Big Miracle” could perform more strongly than projected.

Outside the U.S., “Chronicle” should see better weekend results without the Super Bowl distraction. Budgeted at a reported $12 million, pic bows day-and-date in 36 markets, including Australia, India, Russia, Taiwan and the U.K.

The Saturday-to-Sunday Super Bowl drop has historically been 65%-70%. This time last year, B.O. champ “The Roommate,” which opened at $15 million, fell 75% from Saturday to Sunday; “Black Swan” saw the frame’s best hold that day, dropping 64%.

As they did for last year’s “The Roommate,” young women are expected to lift overall totals for “Woman in Black.”

CBS Films acquired the Daniel Radcliffe starrer from Hammer Films last May for a reported $3 million, with an additional $15 million marketing spend. Distrib kept costs low by airing TV spots on its sibling nets including the Eye and CW.

“Chronicle,” meanwhile, has strong appeal among young men. The Josh Trank-helmed pic follows three high school friends, played by Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan, who gain superpowers after making a life-changing discovery.

Looking to attract families, U’s “Big Miracle,” toplining Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, cost under $40 million, not including marketing costs. The studio mounted an aggressive television campaign over the holiday season, as well as trailering the film in front of holiday family fare. U launches the film overseas this weekend in Russia and Portugal before expanding on Feb. 9.

“Big Miracle” is inspired by the true story of a Greenpeace volunteer (Barrymore) who works with residents of a small Alaskan town to save a trapped family of gray whales.

At the specialty B.O., the Weinstein Co. expands “The Artist” to just north of 1,000 locations, up from 897. Last weekend, the film earned $3.3 million, boosting its Stateside cume to $17.7 million as of Feb. 1. Weinstein also opens Madonna’s “W.E.” at four locations.

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