Summit's zombie rom-com meets best expectations; newcomers 'Guys,' 'Bullet' stumble

Summit’s “Warm Bodies” had a strong enough pulse to meet the most aggressive expectations of $20 million for its opening weekend, though the PG-13-rated zomcom was unable to enliven a slower-than-usual overall Super Bowl frame, down some 25% from last year.

“Bodies” B.O. could ultimately dip below its tidy $20 million estimate, depending on how Sunday’s game affects the mostly teen-skewing film. Summit projects the pic will drop 68% from Saturday to Sunday — the same drop seen this time last year by Fox’s teen-targeted “Chronicle.”

Still, other studios went with a tad more bullish estimates for “Bodies,” which skewed 65% under 25 and received a solid A CinemaScore rating from teens.

The Weinstein Co.’s “Django Unchained” furthered its overseas winning streak, with an estimated $30.6 million in its third frame. International cume is $158.2 million, and pic crossed the $300 million global mark this weekend thanks to a sizable $150 million-plus domestic haul.

Though “Bodies” overperformed, the box office had scant help from other wide openers: Warner Bros.’ Sylvester Stallone R-rated actioner “Bullet to the Head” failed to gain any yardage with a dismal $4.5 million debut, while Lionsgate’s modest opening of old-timer comedy “Stand Up Guys,” at 659 locations in the top 75 U.S. markets, drew a mere $1.5 million through Sunday.

The weekend’s top holdovers, Paramount’s “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and TWC’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” also failed to reach double digits. “Witch Hunters” grossed an estimated $9.2 million, for a Stateside cume of $34.5 million; “Playbook” earned $8.1 million, with $80.4 million domestically.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics proved that arthouse titles tend to be the most immune to football, as Oscar-nominated docu “The Gatekeepers” scored a solid $22,226 per-screen average from three debut locations in New York and L.A. Domestic cume is more than $86,000, including its Academy-qualifying run late last year.

Magnolia’s yearly theatrical release of the Oscar-nominated shorts also got off to a fine start this weekend, 8% ahead of last year’s program per screen, averaging almost $4,000 from an aggressive 105 locations.

Auds warm to ‘Bodies’

Lionsgate distribution exec David Spitz said the $30 million-budgeted newcomer began Friday playing more aggressively in Latino markets but ultimately played evenly throughout the U.S., though slightly better going East to West.

Lionsgate dated the Summit release for this weekend as counterprogramming to the Super Bowl even though most films drop 65%-70% on Sunday.

“For us, it was an opportunity to be the first romantic comedy to target teen girls in a while,” Spitz noted. “I really think we capitalized on an audience that had been underserved lately.”

“Bodies,” starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer and directed by “50/50″ helmer Jonathan Levine, saw a 60%/40% female-male split, with 37% of its opening aud under 18. The last film to have successfully engaged young women was Universal’s “Mama,” released three weeks ago. Before that it was Summit’s pre-Thanksgiving “Twilight” finale.

Summit pre-screened “Bodies” extensively, kickstarting its primary marketing campaign around the time of the “Twilight” release. “Exit polls have shown that zombies are a polarizing subject, so our marketing team really focused on the romcom elements of the film,” Spitz said.

While teens turned out in force for “Bodies,” older auds could hardly be bothered with either “Bullet” or “Stand Up Guys,” even on Friday and Saturday. “Bullet,” which skewed an overwhelmingly 81% over 25, performed even worse than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “The Last Stand,” which earned $7 million last weekend. Warners is acting only as a distribution partner for the film, which was produced by Reliance and IM Global through Joel Silver’s Dark Castle shingle.

Boomers divided

“Stand Up Guys,” which stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin as retired conmen, failed to attract any significant turnout from the increasingly sought-after middle-aged and older crowd. The film may have been overshadowed by a large group of year-end awards contenders still drawing arthouse auds.

For instance, “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables,” which earned $2.4 million each; “Argo,” with $2.1 million; and “Life of Pi” ($1.8 million) all performed better than “Stand Up Guys.” Even TWC’s retirement-themed dramedy “Quartet,” which earned $1.2 million this weekend, nearly outdid the Lionsgate pic with just a third of the locations.

With just a 38% weekend-to-weekend drop, Disney-DreamWorks’ “Lincoln” reclaimed a spot in the domestic top 10, as well as landing the No. 3 spot overseas with an estimated $13 million through Sunday. “Lincoln,” which Fox is distributing overseas, reached $32.7 million internationally after three weeks. Worldwide cume is $200 million-plus.

Universal’s “Ted” also reached a milestone this weekend, crossing $300 million internationally thanks to steady playability in Japan, where its already the highest-grossing R-rated comedy locally. Global cume is nearly $523 million. The Weekend Top 10
Title (weeks in release)3-day gross*Engmts.$ per
engagementCume*%
change1.Warm Bodies (1)20.03,0096,65520.0–2.Hansel and Gretel … (2)9.23,3752,72934.5-533.Silver Linings Playbook (12)8.12,8092,88880.4-144.Mama (3)6.72,7816,73058.3-495.Zero Dark Thirty (7)5.32,8711,84677.8-456.Bullet to the Head (1)4.52,4041,8724.5–7.Parker (2)3.22,2381,43712.4-548.Django Unchained (6)3.01,7771,710151.0-399.Lincoln (13)2.41,7561,374170.8-3810.Les Miserables (6)2.41,8481,320141.5-42*in millions of $ – Source: Studio estimates Overseas Top 5
Title (weeks in release)Weekend gross*TerritoriesScreensInt’l cume*World cume*%
change1.Django Unchained (3)30.6656,060158.2309.2-292.Hansel and Gretel … (3)15.3363,24962.597.0-393.Lincoln (3)13.0433,51032.7203.5+204.Les Miserables (6)12.2402,665198.4339.9-135.Life of Pi (11)10.1485,224443.5549.6-42*in millions of $ – Source: Studios

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