Weekend Report: 'Limitless' Leads Listless Lot
Despite decent starts for Limitless, Paul and The Lincoln Lawyer, overall weekend business was off ten percent from the same period last year, when Alice in Wonderland, The Bounty Hunter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid led, and attendance was on the low end for the third weekend of March.

Limitless packed $18.9 million on approximately 3,200 screens at 2,756 locations. That trailed the opening weekends of recent thrillers Unknown ($21.9 million) and The Adjustment Bureau ($21.2 million). Among other comparable titles, it was close to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ($19 million) but was behind 21 ($24.1 million) and The Social Network ($22.4 million) (Limitless copied the latter with its heavy usage of Kanye West's "Power"). Not too shabby for Bradley Cooper's first real star vehicle, though the movie was heavily-promoted, including three spots on Super Bowl Sunday (though Box Office Mojo readers voted it the worst Super Bowl ad). The marketing hammered out a simple message embodied by the movie's tagline, "What if a pill could make you rich and powerful?" (though the brain enhancement aspect was glossed over), and this dovetailed with Cooper's arrogant, partying persona from The Hangover and other movies. According to exit polling from distributor Relativity Media, which heralded its first respectable launch, Limitless's audience was 52 percent female and 60 percent was aged 25 years and older.

The Lincoln Lawyer drew $13.2 million on around 3,000 screens at 2,707 locations, which was star Matthew McConaughey's top-grossing start in a non-comedy-or-action movie since his breakout in A Time to Kill. That's not saying much as Lincoln Lawyer was pretty average otherwise, faring a bit better than the nationwide debuts of Michael Clayton and Fracture, but it gets extra points considering the paucity of legal thrillers in recent years and how its television spots made it look nearly indistinguishable from similar T.V. fare. Those ads were incoherent and murky, largely failing to explain the movie's basic premise to the uninitiated. Fortunately, Lincoln Lawyer had other things going for it, such as being based on a bestselling novel, and it received extra publicity from a $6 movie ticket deal through discount site Groupon.com. Nearly 190,000 tickets were sold through Groupon, and 49,254 were redeemed over the weekend, according to distributor Lionsgate. Lionsgate counted those tickets at full price in its reporting, but that only inflated the gross by around $100,000. Publicity was the primary aim of the Groupon deal, and Lionsgate's research showed that 89 percent of Groupon buyers would not have seen the movie otherwise. Lincoln Lawyer's demographic breakdown was 63 percent female and 85 percent aged 25 years and older.

Paul landed with $13 million on close to 3,100 screens at 2,802 locations (its distributor Universal Pictures had it coming in ahead of Lincoln Lawyer), pegging it a tad below average for the generally quiet sci-fi comedy sub-genre. Its opening was worse than Hot Tub Time Machine ($14 million) from last March, but it was much better than Meet Dave. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, it was just shy of Coneheads. Featuring the voice of Seth Rogen, Paul was also pushed as a stoner comedy, and, while it was no Pineapple Express or even Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, it eclipsed the debuts of Rogen's Observe and Report and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Universal's exit polling showed that 56 percent of Paul's audience was male and 58 percent was aged 25 years and older.

Last weekend's top draw, Battle: Los Angeles, took a hit in its second weekend, falling 59 percent to $14.5 million and advancing its sum to $60.5 million ten days. While it held better than Skyline, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) and Cloverfield (albeit with a lower gross) at the same point, it lagged further behind District 9 and Black Hawk Down.

Buoyed by Spring Break, movies appealing to kids saw the smallest declines. Rango eased 33 percent to $15.1 million, lifting its total to $92.3 million in 17 days. Mars Needs Moms was down only 23 percent to $5.3 million, though its tally was a dreary $15.4 million in ten days. Gnomeo and Juliet dipped 36 percent to $2.3 million, increasing its sum to $93.6 million in 38 days. Also benefitting on this front was Beastly, which was down 36 percent to $3.2 million for a $22.2 million total in 17 days.

For the rest of the holdovers, the drops were fairly standard. Red Riding Hood tumbled 49 percent to $7.2 million, bringing its sum to $25.9 million in ten days. The Adjustment Bureau slowed 50 percent to $5.8 million for a $48.6 million tally in 17 days.

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never squeaked by Michael Jackson's This Is It to become the highest-grossing concert movie on record with $72.2 million.

Last Weekend

'Battle' Erupts, 'Red,' 'Mars' Stumble

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2010 - 'Alice' Tops Again, 'Diary,' 'Bounty' Neck-and-Neck

• 2009 - 'Knowing' Digs Up the Digits

• 2008 - 'Horton' Hatches Easter Win

• 2007 - 'TMNT' Sees Green on Crowded Weekend

• 2006 - 'V for Vendetta' Bombards the Top Spot

• 2005 - 'Ring Two' Opens Well

Related Chart:

Weekend Box Office Results