Even with most people distracted by the Giants or Patriots or whatever elaborate gameday dish they had been working on, this weekend still marked the first time in history that two movies opened above $20 million against the Super Bowl.
Based on studio estimates, Chronicle held off The Woman in Black to take the top spot this weekend, though Daniel Radcliffe's first post-Potterouting was impressive in its own right. The weekend's other opener, Big Miracle, was a tad disappointing, but it still finished in line with modest expectations. Total box office came in at over $115 million, which is a 32 percent improvement from Super Bowl 2011.
Chronicle debuted to $22 million, which is the fourth-highest Super Bowl debut ever and second-best among movies targeting at men behind Taken ($24.7 million). It did earn less than major found footage flicks like Cloverfield ($40.06 million) and last month's The Devil Inside ($33.7 million), not to mention the last two Paranormal Activity movies, though that shouldn't detract too much from this movie's success.
Chronicle is the latest example of the economic viability of the found footage genre—the movie nearly doubled its production budget ($12 million) through its first three days. According to distributor 20th Century Fox, Chronicle's audience was 55 percent male and 61 percent under the age of 25. Overall, it received a "B" CinemaScore, and that improved to a "B+" among the under-25 crowd.
The Woman in Black wasn't far behind with $20.9 million start. Super Bowl weekend is a popular time to open teen-targeted horror movies, and The Woman in Black ranks second all-time behind When a Stranger Calls ($21.6 million). Perhaps more importantly, the movie's opening is easily the best in CBS Films' history, topping The Back-Up Plan's $12.2 million. According to CBS, Friday's exit polling indicated that the audience was 59 percent female and 57 percent under the age of 25. The movie received a "B-" CinemaScore, and that bumped up to a "B" among the younger audience.
Chronicle and The Woman in Black both managed to attract the under 25 crowd in large numbers (61 percent and 57 percent, respectively). While this audience has been a bit absent as of late, these numbers shouldn't be misinterpreted as some sort of return of the youth to movie theaters. Chronicle's main characters are all high-school students, and the "what if" premise was obviously relatable to younger audiences. With The Woman in Black, supernatural horror skews younger to begin with, and Daniel Radcliffe's popularity among teenage girls probably helped it out a bit as well. As is often the case, attendance was dictated more by the content and less by any larger market factors.
Last weekend's leader The Grey fell 53 percent to $9.3 million. That's a much steeper decline than that of Liam Neeson's Taken or Unknown, though neither of those movies were facing the Super Bowl. Through 10 days in theaters, The Grey has grossed $34.56 million.
Big Miracle opened in fourth place with $7.8 million. The movie had a per-theater average of $3,645, or notably lower than Dolphin Tale's $5,461 (though it had a 3D boost in there as well). Because its audience is primarily moms and younger girls, Universal Pictures was anticipating that Big Miracle would hold fairly well against the Super Bowl—that turned out to be unfounded, and the movie's actual weekend gross wound up down nine percent from the Sunday estimate. Big Miracle's audience was 68 percent female and 67 percent under the age of 25, and the movie received a solid "A-" CinemaScore.
In its second weekend, One For the Money plummeted 55 percent to $5.2 million. That's much worse than The Lincoln Lawyer's 19 percent second weekend dip, indicating that this time Lionsgate's Groupon gambit isn't really panning out all that well. Through two weekends, the Katherine Heigl action comedy has earned $19.6 million.
In seventh place, Red Tails fell 54 percent to $4.7 million and has so far made $41.06 million.
The Descendants eased 29 percent to $4.55 million, and once again claimed eighth place on the weekend chart. On Sunday, it passed writer-director Alexander Payne's About Schmidt, and the Best Picture nominee has now grossed $65.5 million.
Falling 46 percent to $4.35 million, Man on a Ledge held best among last weekend's openers. Still, it's only made $14.6 million so far, which is a not-at-all-impressive tally.