It wasn't so much a "something for everyone" weekend as it was "multiple things for the same general audience," as four wide releases aimed at thrill-hungry moviegoers and/or adults debuted on the same day, creating a clear case of mutually assured destruction. The top three movies are basically tied, but as always, rank is irrelevant next to the actual hard numbers (why rank doesn't matter). For the moment, the top debut of the weekend may be End of Watch, a "found footage"-style LA cop drama, parlayed strong reviews into a solid $13 million opening, which is the second-biggest debut for Open Roads outside of The Grey ($20 million) back in January. The $7 million film (purchased for $2 million) had a marketing and distribution cost of around $20 million, so even a $40 million final total will get this film in the black before home video. It also proves that Jake Gyllenhaal is a decent mid-range opener. He's useful when the film you're selling doesn't cost $200 million ala Prince of Persia. End of Watch is yet another installment in writer David Ayers' "two volatile men in a car" sub-genre, which includes the likes of The Fast and the Furious, Training Day and Harsh Times (an underrated Christian Bale vehicle that he also directed). He wrote but did not direct the the LA Riots-set cop melodrama Dark Blue while directing but not writing the frankly mediocre Keanu Reeves cop melodrama Street Kings. Among films he directed, End of Watch should easily top the $26 million gross of Street Kings while it will be fifth (out of seven) if it can merely surpass the $9 million gross of Kurt Russell's Dark Blue. Fourth place is the $76 million-grossing Training Day, which is too far a bridge to cross at this point.essay). Why Lionsgate instead chose to dump The Cold Light of Day into 1,500 theaters with no marketing support instead of transplanting this far more important investment I cannot say, but it was a costly error on their part. The general moviegoer crowd who wanted an R-rated action fix, especially couples, found it with End of Watch instead, as a star-driven cop drama is a much easier sell to a general audience member than a 3D sci-fi action comp based on a British comic book they've probably never heard of. Even surprisingly good reviews didn't matter. Oh well, judgment is indeed served.review) expanded to 788 screens and didn't exactly set the world on fire. It's second weekend of play brought in $5 million, giving the film $6 million so far. It's above the $4.8 million expansion (on 885 screens) of There Will Be Blood. The Daniel Day Lewis vehicle was in its fifth weekend of release but also had Oscar nominations to boast about. Come what may, The Master was never going to be a mainstream hit and anything near or above $26 million gross of Boogie Nights (Anderson's second biggest grosser behind the $40 million finish of There Will be Blood) should be considered a win, especially if it can maintain awards momentum as the rest of the Oscar bait rolls into theaters over the next three months. The big limited-release story was the eye-popping debut of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Based on an allegedly beloved novel by Stephen Chbosky (who wrote and directed his own film adaptation) about teenagers finding themselves in high school, Summit debuted the film on four screens and snagged an astonishing $61,000 per screen. The film was relatively well reviewed and had the added bonus of being Emma Watson's first major role after the end of the Harry Potter series. Anecdotal evidence (for what it's worth, I do get "on the ground reports" from time to time) informs me that this thing was sold out in the evening for much of the weekend, with a rather large middle-school audience treating this as their The Master. This is the fourth-biggest per-screen average of the year and Summit's biggest ever. It played 70 percent female and 60 percent under-25. Obviously a massive per-screen debut for a limited release doesn't always guarantee equally mainstream success, but expect Summit to expand this one much faster than they perhaps intended to.
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