If anyone doubted how movie studios view the Super Bowl, the raunchy pre-game ads for Adam Sandler’s Just Go With It (“Tell your girlfriend it’s a romantic comedy”) settled the matter. As “counter-programming,” the Leighton Meester thriller The Roommate took the weekend with a relatively low $15.6 million. That said, the film played in only 2,534 theaters and had the highest per-theater average in the top 25. The Roommate wasn’t merely countering the male-skewing Super Bowl (a strategy effective with 2010′s Dear John and 2006′s When a Stranger Calls); it was countering 2011′s releases thus far. The Green Hornet (#5), The Rite (#6), and The Mechanic (#7) all dropped over forty-five percent from last weekend. Plenty of women, obviously, watch the Super Bowl, but the game’s audience likely would be more interested in one of those fading action films than in The Roommate‘s teen-slasher camp.
The romantic comedy No Strings Attached held onto its audience for a decent third-place showing, and the Oscar holdovers (The King’s Speech at #4, True Grit at #8, Black Swan at #10) continued surprisingly strong performances. Best Actor nominee Javier Bardem’s Biutiful, at #19, even managed to improve its performance over last week thanks to its emergence from nowhere (on the other hand, the poor producers of 127 Hours, #14, have been unable to capitalize on James Franco’s omnipresence).
Perhaps the biggest story here is the relative failure of James Cameron production Sanctum. The 3D spelunking adventure debuted in second place. It should come as a sign to Cameron that not everything he releases is gold–or that Cameron’s work plays best in December, when at least half of his audience isn’t tied up in the big game.
Your top ten, per The Numbers’s weekend estimates:
1. The Roommate, $15.6 million, $6,156 average, debut, Sony
2. Sanctum, $9.2 million, $3,310 average, debut, Universal
3. No Strings Attached, $8.4 million, $2,754 average, third weekend, Paramount
4. The King’s Speech, $8.3 million, $3,216 average, eleventh weekend, The Weinstein Company
5. The Green Hornet, $6.1 million, $2,011 average, fourth weekend, Sony
6. The Rite, $5.6 million, $1,864 average, second weekend, Warner Brothers
7. The Mechanic, $5.4 million, $1,986 average, second weekend, CBS Films
8. True Grit, $4.8 million, $1,637 average, seventh weekend, Paramount
9. The Dilemma, $3.45 million, $1,355 average, fourth weekend, Universal
10. Black Swan, $3.40 million, $1,720 average, tenth weekend, Fox Searchlight
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