Coming in at second place was Zach Snyder's ambitious action-fantasy Sucker Punch (review). The $85 million female-led adventure grossed just $19 million in its debut weekend. While Warner Bros. sold the film as a bubble-gum female empowerment epic, the film was actually a messy and dark examination of the sexualization of women in geek culture and the overall acceptance of institutional sexism. Stymied by the difficult-to-explain narrative and reviews that just couldn't see past the fishnets and colorful visuals, the film is another example of geek excitement not translating into mainstream interest. By itself, a $19 million opening weekend isn't all that troubling, the film had a mediocre 2.3x weekend multiplier, so legs are unlikely. The picture scored a mere B- from Cinemascore, meaning that audiences were as caught off-guard as critics. The one possible saving grace will be the overseas markets, which may well respond to the potent visuals and genuinely subversive undertones. This is a prime example of 'why we can't have nice things'. We all complain about mainstream entertainment lacking a point of view or challenging and imaginative material and when one comes along, the critics at large take a collective dump on it (it wasn't SUPPOSED to be traditionally empowering!!!) while audiences choose not to flock to it. Enjoy your Chutes and Ladders: the Movie.
Anyway, in holdover news, The Lincoln Lawyer (review) and Limitless both scored sensational holds, with the films having second weekend drops of just 16.7% and 19.5% respectively. As I've said a billion times, older audiences do like having films pitched at them once in awhile and the rock-solid business of these two star-driven adult thrillers are prime examples. Limitless sits at $41 million while The Lincoln Lawyer sits with $28 million. Limitless is a one-and-done, but Lincoln Lawyer's Mick Haller has several other literary adventures in print, so Lionsgate and Matthew McConaughey may have a franchise on their hands (god willing...). The best film of 2011, Rango (review) became one of the two first films of the year to cross $100 million, as it now sits with $103 million. Also joining the century club this weekend was the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston rom-com Just Go With It. Gnomeo and Juliet ($95 million) and The Green Hornet (review) with $97 million may join them if screen-bleeding and/or a lack of second-run theaters don't prevent that.
Battle: Los Angeles (review) sits at $72 million in seventeen days, making $100 million domestic less-than-likely. Paul dropped 43% in weekend two ($24 million thus far), but the film is running about even with Hot Tub Time Machine, meaning that the spiritualistic-atheism comedy has a shot at $40 million, which will make it by far the most successful of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost vehicles thus far. In limited release, Win Win ($679,000) and Jane Eyre ($1.8 million) continue to burn up the arthouse chart, and Cedar Rapids ($6.1 million) again proves that it should have been a wide releaser. Oh, and mazel tov to CBS Films' Beastly, which surpassed my expectations and crossed the $25 million mark this weekend. I was wrong, as this one has something approaching legs.
That's it for this weekend. Join us next time for a stupidly crowded weekend, with three wide releases (Hop, Insidious, and Source Code), a PG-13 re-release of The King's Speech (f*ck no, do not go!), and a handful of noteworthy limited debuts (Super, Wrecked, Trust, and Rubber). Spread the wealth people... spread the wealth.
Follow Scott Mendelson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottMendelson