Weekend Report: ‘Shutter Island’ Lights Up

The weekend trembled with a strong $41.1 million debut for Shutter Island, but Valentine's Day and other holdovers bled profusely. As such, overall business was down six percent from the same period last year, though it was solid for late February.

Showing on approximately 4,200 screens at 2,991 sites, Shutter Island delivered a personal best opening weekend gross for director Martin Scorsese, surpassing The Departed's $26.9 million, and for actor Leonardo DiCaprio, out-gunning Catch Me If You Can (though Titanic is still his best in estimated initial attendance). Shutter Island marks the fourth collaboration between Mr. Scorsese and Mr. DiCaprio, and the grosses for the first three progressively increased: Gangs of New York garnered $77.8 million by the end of its run, The Aviator wound up with $102.6 million, and The Departed notched $132.4 million.

Given its horror-thriller genre and the time of year, it's unlikely that Shutter Island will continue the Scorsese-DiCaprio trend and exceed The Departed, but it has kept their winning streak alive. By genre standards, Shutter Island had a top tier start, packing far more initial business than such comparable titles as 1408, Secret Window, Gothika and Identity. Shutter Island's marketing campaign presented a psychological, potentially supernatural thriller, deftly setting up a mystery and fetishizing the eerie, isolated location with striking visuals and a tense atmosphere. Furthermore, the ads capitalized on the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, rattling off the director's previous movies and listing recent audience favorite The Departed last so it could have the most impact. Distributor Paramount Pictures reported an audience breakdown that was evenly split between genders and 50 percent 25 years and older.

While Shutter Island burned brightly out-of-the-gate, Valentine's Day was broken-hearted in its second weekend. The ensemble romantic comedy came crashing down by 70 percent, grossing $16.7 million and increasing its tally to $86.9 million in ten days. That's the biggest second-weekend drop-off ever for a major romantic comedy. The fact that its eponymous holiday was last Sunday is partly to blame, and it was unreasonable to expect it to maintain its momentum after such a massive Presidents' Day weekend opening, but its tumble nonetheless shows that gimmickry can only go so far.

The Wolfman also caved, by 69 percent, but that was more in line with its genre than Valentine's Day was. Werewolf movies typically flame-out, and, due to the force of its debut, Wolfman is on track to become one of the highest-grossing entries in the sub-genre. It made $9.9 million over the weekend, upping its total to $50.4 million in ten days.

Compared to Wolfman and Valentine's Day, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief's 51 percent dip seemed normal, but it was quite a bit more precipitous than past Presidents' Day fantasies, Bridge to Terabithia and The Spiderwick Chronicles, at the same point. Percy, though, had a higher tally than those pictures, generating $15.3 million over the weekend for a $58.7 million tally in ten days, and it did hold much better than The Golden Compass and Eragon.

Avatar suffered its steepest fall yet, but it was still down only 31 percent. With $16.2 million, it logged the second highest-grossing tenth weekend ever (behind Titanic). Its total climbed to $688 million in 66 days, and it's on course to cross the $700 million mark next weekend.

Among other holdovers, Dear John continued to slide, down 56 percent to $7.1 million but good for $65.8 million in 17 days. Tooth Fairy quietly saved some face by posting the weekend's smallest decline among nationwide releases. The family comedy was off 28 percent to $4.4 million, raising its tally to $49.7 million in 31 days. Meanwhile, Crazy Heart appears to be resonating more than The Wrestler did last year, despite its slower start. The drama featuring Jeff Bridges grossed $3 million in its tenth weekend and its total grew to $21.5 million.

On the foreign front, Avatar's reign continued. The juggernaut was down 19 percent to $48.4 million over the weekend, lifting its overseas total to nearly $1.78 billion. In Mexico, Avatar surpassed Ice Age: The Meltdown to become the country's highest-grossing movie with $42.5 million. In second, Percy Jackson nabbed $23.2 million in 52 markets for a $67.9 million total, while Valentine's Day pulled in $21.3 million in 62 markets for a $70 million total.

Last Weekend

'Valentine's Day' Massacres Presidents' Day Record

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2009 - 'Madea' Goes to Town

• 2008 - 'Vantage Point' Angles for Weekend Lead

• 2007 - 'Ghost Rider' Stays in the Saddle

• 2006 - 'Madea' Drags Moviegoers to 'Family Reunion'

• 2005 - 'Constantine' Smokes in Debut But 'Hitch' Still Tops

Related Charts

Weekend Box Office Results

• All Time February Opening Weekends

All Time 10th Weekends

• All Time Biggest 2nd Weekend Drops

• All Time Grosses (Domestic)

• All Time Grosses (Worldwide)