Warm Bodies livens up the North American box office

Warm Bodies UK movie posterAs predicted, the zombie romance Warm Bodies topped the box office at North American cinemas this past weekend.  The Jonathan Levine directed genre skewing flick ended up with $20 million in its opening weekend.  The film has been getting positive reviews and audience reaction has been good.  This bodes well for star Nicholas Hoult who has a lot of films coming out in 2013 and 2014 and seems to be being marketed as the next big thing.  Prognosticators weren’t sure what to make of the half zombie/half romance hybrid.  However, it resonated with younger audiences as managed to pull in both men and women.  While not a slam dunk, it’s certainly a respectable opening for a genre movie with no major stars above the title.

Movies with stars above the title didn’t fare as well.  Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head opened with same general ambivalence and malaise as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand.  Audiences seem less than enthusiastic about these aging icons.  Expect that trend to be blown to high hell when Bruce Willis unleashes his latest A Good Day to Die Hard.  In spite of a relatively decent critical response, the Walter Hill directed action film made only $4.5 million in its opening weekend which was good enough for 6th place.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the top 10 is made up of award contenders.  Silver Linings Playbook continues to be the lead beneficiary making another $8 million this weekend.  Though it’s far from the only film to benefit – Les Miserables passed $140 million this week,  Django Unchained crossed $150 million, and Lincoln has passed $170 million.  Even Argo, which has been out since September, managed to cross $120 million this past weekend.  Zero Dark Thirty has stalled, but still has an outside show of hitting triple digits.  I can’t remember a year where so many of the Best Picture contenders have done so well at the box office.  Over half the nominees have made (or will end up making) more than $100 million in the United States.  That’s a banner year for award cinema.

Last week’s number one film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters had a respectable 55% week over week hold.  The film didn’t plummet down the charts as some predicted.  The horror story Mama also is holding well as the go-to scary movie of the moment.  Another $6.5 million this weekend takes the total up to $58 million.

However, Jason Statham’s Parker is sinking like a stone.  In its second week the action thriller managed only $3.2 million.  The movie won’t even crack the $20 million dollar mark at U.S. theaters.  Statham has always had a respectable presence in the international market, and his DVD / Blu-ray numbers are solid.  No one’s taking a bath on Parker, but i have to wonder if people aren’t going to start recalculating Statham’s ability to carry a picture.

Next weekend sees the release of the new Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief.  If the marketing is any indication, this one looks terrible.  Thankfully it co-stars Melissa McCarthy whose over sized antics might be enough to prevent this from being a complete financial bust.  And Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, and Jude Law star in director Steven Soderbergh’s the psychological thriller Side Effects.  See you next week.

Here’s your top films for North America…

1. Warm Bodies
Weekend Estimate: $20 million

2. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Weekend Estimate: $9 million; $34 million total

3. Silver Linings Playbook
Weekend Estimate: $8 million; $80 million total

4. Mama
Weekend Estimate: $6.5 million; $58 million total

5. Zero Dark Thirty
Weekend Estimate: $5 million; $77 million total

Anghus Houvouras