Here's your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Warm Bodies - $19.5 million
2. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters - $9.2 million
3. Silver Linings Playbook - $8.1 million
4. Mama - $6.7 million
5. Zero Dark Thirty - $5.3 million
6. Bullet to the Head - $4.5 million
7. Parker - $3.2 million
8. Django Unchained - $3.0 million
9 . Les Miserables - $2.43 million
10. Lincoln - $2.41 million
The Big Stories
Whatever macho posturing of yore is likely to be left on the football field during the Super Bowl. Fans of tough-guy action certainly did not come out to support one of the directors so many grew up with. Wonder if Bullet to the Head struck a little too close to home for Ray Lewis. Maybe if he found a break during preparations this weekend, he took his entourage to see the film about the dead returning to life as a bit of wishful thinking. If nothing else this weekend, Arnold Schwarzenegger can still claim his dominance at the box office over Sylvester Stallone -- even in comparing equal disappointments.
Warm Bodies, Warm Hearts
Though you could throw a stone and hit a direct-to-video title focused on zombies and The Walking Dead is one of the popular shows on cable television, the theatrical life of the genre exists amongst the franchises with five Resident Evil films and a pair of 28 Days and Weeks. While George Romero's flesh eaters will go down in history as the ones people remember, Zombieland remains the film with the most meat at the box office in the genre. Though some may cite Shaun of the Dead as the last "zom-com," those lovers were human. How soon they forget about 1993's My Boyfriend's Back, directed by Bob Balaban and featured early work by the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Fox and Matthew McConaughey? Perhaps with good reason, as Jonathan Levine's Warm Bodies now beats it in both quality and numbers. While not exactly a horror film, the elements from which it draws from puts it in a very intriguing list for the young 2013.
Mama ($28.4 million), Texas Chainsaw 3D ($21.7), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters ($19.6), Warm Bodies ($19.5), A Haunted House ($18.1)
Those are the top opening weekends of the year so far. Gangster Squad is the only other film to even reach $10 million to date and we still have witches (Beautiful Creatures), aliens (Dark Skies) and devils (The Last Exorcism Part II) to contend with over the next four weeks. If you want to consider Nicholas Sparks' Safe Haven as part of the mix, you will not be fought.
Is the Solo Action Hero Dead?
Maybe the old ones are. No one is really saying that about the ones that wear a mask. It seems that unless you pair them up into a cornucopia of carnage (or attach them to a franchise a la A Good Day to Die Hard), the tough guys on their own play like the solo albums of the KISS Army. The Expendables 2 opened to $28.5 million en route to a total of $85. The Last Stand ($6.2 million), Parker ($7 million) and now Bullet to the Head ($4.5 million). You can throw either one of Jason Statham's last films (Safe or Killer Elite) in there for the heckuvait too and you would still have four movies that could not equal the opening power of strength in numbers. If you want to twist the knife even further, here is the list of Stallone's openings that began with less than $10 million:
Assassins ($9.3 million), Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! ($7.0), First Blood ($6.64), Get Carter ($6.63), Tango & Cash ($6.62), Rocky II ($6.3), Lock Up ($6.0), Rhinestone ($5.4), Over the Top ($5.14), Oscar ($5.09), Bullet to the Head ($4.5)
You are reading that list right. All of Stallone's comedies - even the un-inflated 1984 grosses of Rhinestone outgrossed the $10 ticket sales of his first pairing with legendary action director Walter Hill. In the glass-half-full department, Bullet to the Head actually was Hill's 8th best opening of all time, just behind his last big-screen effort back in 2002 (Undisputed - $4.54 million). His pairing with the original Planet Hollywood owners registered with starts of $8.1 million (1988's Red Heat), $7 million (1996's Last Man Standing) and now Bullet to the Head's $4.5 million. On paper without inflation, those starts are better than 48 Hrs., The Warriors and The Long Riders. But over 30 years later, it is a shame that we are unlikely to see any kind of vaunted comeback from the man's-man director.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]