Hollywood executives can breathe a slight sigh of relief: Winter 2011 has finally come to its ignominious conclusion, with Hall Pass topping an otherwise uneventful week at the box office. Not too far behind was fellow Warner Bros. release Unknown and Disney/Touchstone animated hit Gnomeo and Juliet, while the week's other opener Drive Angry failed to shift out of first gear. Thanks to Hall Pass's middling result and Drive Angry's disastrous start, overall box office was off 11 percent from last year when Shutter Island led for the second week in a row.
Hall Pass ended its first week just shy of $18 million. That's down from The Farrelly Bros.'s 2007 comedy The Heartbreak Kid but up a bit from Fever Pitch and Stuck on You (though the gap with Fever Pitch closes when adjusting for ticket price inflation). While it did take the top spot, Hall Pass has the unfortunate distinction of being the lowest-grossing first-place movie on a week ending in March since 16 Blocks in 2006.
Unknown dropped 47 percent to $16.1 million for a total of $46.5 million. It fell further behind star Liam Neeson's Taken, which had made $58.7 million through the same point. As Taken showed its real strength after its second week, expect the gap with Unknown to widen at a much quicker rate in coming weeks.
After leading the weekend estimates, Gnomeo and Juliet fell to second place when actuals reported. Ranking sixth place for Monday through Thursday, the gnomes ended up finishing the entire seven-day period in third with $15.9 million. This brought the movie's total to an impressive $76.8 million, and it remains on pace to finish around the $100 million mark.
While Disney is certainly thrilled with Gnomeo and Juliet, it can't be too pleased with the performance of I Am Number Four: their first release under a distribution agreement with DreamWorks fell 48 percent to $14 million. That increased its total to $40.7 million, or less than Percy Jackson, Jumper and even Disturbia had made through two weeks.
Just Go With It declined 48 percent to $13.5 million for a three-week total of $81.7 million. That lagged behind Adam Sandler's last February romantic comedy, 50 First Dates, by $10 million, though Just Go With It is still in line to finish north of $100 million.
With strong mid-week grosses following its multiple Oscar wins on Sunday, The King's Speech was up two percent to $10.4 million. In over three months in theaters, the acclaimed period drama has earned $117.3 million.
Drive Angry was the biggest loser this week, debuting all the way down in ninth place with just $6.9 million. That's the worst nationwide opening in the modern 3D era and the lowest-grossing start for star Nicolas Cage since The Weather Man in 2005. When adjusting for ticket price inflation and 3D premiums, it's essentially neck-and-neck with Racing with the Moon from 1984 as Cage's least-attended start ever.