Weekend Box Office: ‘Limitless’ Reaches Its Potential

This weekend had a smattering of new releases. Thanks to an impossible work/travel schedule, I wasn’t able to see any of them early, but I’m still intrigued. None of the movies that opened were big tentpoles or four-quadrant spectacles, so it was really anybody’s guess as to which would ultimately triumph in the end. I must admit that I’m a bit surprised by the financial champion.

Coming in at #1, to some surprise (at least if you didn’t read the headline of this post), is ‘Limitless‘ from Relativity, which stars Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. It brought in $19 million. The tale of a floundering writer (hey!) who takes a magic pill that helps him unlock his true potential seems to have hit the soft spot of being a sort-of sci-fi movie but coming off as more serious and adult (all the while maintaining that pivotal PG-13 rating). I’m intrigued by the concept, but hear the execution could have used some work.

Holding strong at #2 is Paramount’s minor masterpiece ‘Rango‘, with another $15.3 million. This brings its total to more than $92 million now. I’m so happy that an animated movie this strange is getting this kind of audience. Hopefully, this will teach other studios that you don’t have to make easily digestible cookie cutter claptrap to appease the masses.

Last week’s winner ‘Battle: Los Angeles‘ slid to #3 with $14.6 million. It will continue that slide next week, I’m sure.

At #4 is another new entry, Lionsgate’s cheap-o thriller ‘The Lincoln Lawyer‘ with Matthew McConaughey, which took in $13.4 million. The trailers and posters really didn’t strike me as anything special. While the novel it’s based on (by beloved crime author Michael Connolly) was good, the movie didn’t seem to have much going for it. But then the critics gave it a pass and, apparently, audiences were into it too. The movie didn’t cost much, either, so it’ll recoup its losses fairly quickly.

Paul‘, the heavily-hyped Universal sci-fi comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, debuted with a disappointing $13.1 million. Even though the movie is set in America, its inherent British sensibilities could be a turn off. And its R-rating probably didn’t help much either. Still, it’s an international production, funded largely with British money, so its faint opening here might not end up being much of an issue.

The rest of the Top Ten isn’t all that interesting. ‘Mars Needs Moms‘, Disney and Image Movers Digital’s family sci-fi flick, is shaping up to be one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history, ranking amongst ‘Cutthroat Island’ and ‘Ishtar’ in that notorious hall of fame. The movie cost nearly $200 million, and at the end of its second weekend at the box office has made less than $15.5 million. (This weekend it earned only $5.3 million.)

It should be interesting to see what ‘Sucker Punch’, Zack Snyder’s ambitious but potentially awful action fantasy, does at the box office next weekend. There hasn’t been much advance word, so I have no idea how it’s tracking, but the television ads seem to be increasingly desperate while never conveying exactly what the movie actually, you know, is about. We’ll save that for next week’s discussion.

The Top 10:

01 ‘Limitless’ (Relativity) – $19 million

02 ‘Rango’ (Paramount) – $15.3 million

03 ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ (Sony) – $14.6 million

04 ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ (Lionsgate) – $13.4 million

05 ‘Paul’ (Universal) – $13.1 million

06 ‘Red Riding Hood’ (Warner Bros) – $7.2 million

07 ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ (Universal) – $5.9 million

08 ‘Mars Needs Moms’ (Disney) – $5.3 million

09 ‘Beastly’ (CBS Films) – $3.2 million

10 ‘Hall Pass’ (Warner Bros) – $2.6 million

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