Weekend Report: 'Battle' Erupts, 'Red,' 'Mars' Stumble

Battle: Los Angeles invaded the top spot with the second-biggest start of the year behind Rango, while Red Riding Hood lacked bite and Mars Needs Moms was a massive flop. All three movies generally played out according to what their respective genres prescribed. Overall business was down 12 percent from the same weekend last year, when Alice in Wonderland's reign continued.

Battle: Los Angeles raked in $35.6 million on approximately 4,700 screens at 3,417 locations, boasting initial attendance that was a bit less than Black Hawk Down and Starship Troopers but slightly ahead of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). Its gross, though, was much greater than the entire run of the last Los Angeles-set, alien invasion movie Skyline, but that picture's abject failure was an aberration of the sub-genre, not the norm. Battle's start also trailed District 9's $37.4 million and Cloverfield's $40.1 million, and it, of course, didn't hold a candle to the likes of Independence Day and War of the Worlds. Battle's advertising focused on the battle spectacle and the mystery of the invaders but ignored story and character. Distributor Sony Pictures' exit polling indicated that a whopping 68 percent of Battle's audience was male, and 55 percent was aged 25 years and older.

Faring not much better than last weekend's fairy tale revamp Beastly, Red Riding Hood mustered $14 million on close to 3,500 screens at 3,030 locations, which was lower than The Brothers Grimm's debut but above average for a werewolf movie. Its estimated attendance, though, wasn't much better than Cursed's. Werewolves (sans vampires) haven't been terribly popular at the box office, so it was always unlikely that Red Riding Hood would replicate the success of the two movies that inspired it: Twilight (despite being from the same director, Catherine Hardwicke) and Alice in Wonderland. The marketing campaign for Red Riding Hood, which received a profuse push on Thursday's American Idol, focused on a barrage of different taglines ("It wants her," "The truth will tear her apart," etc.) and the mystery of who the wolf was, yet it didn't show the wolf nor provide the context for why people should care. Distributor Warner Bros.' research showed that 64 percent of Red Riding Hood's audience was female, and 56 percent was under 25 years old.

Mars Needs Moms was an utter disaster, eking out just $6.9 million on around 4,400 screens at 3,117 locations (including 2,440 3D venues that accounted for over two thirds of business) or just over a quarter of Gnomeo and Juliet's opening last month. That was the third least-attended launch for a Disney animated movie on record (only Ponyo and Teacher's Pet were less popular) and the lowest debut yet for a broadly-released modern 3D-animated movie, replacing Alpha and Omega for the dishonor. Sci-fi animation can be a tough sell, yet Mars still had one of the sub-genre's weakest launches ever, selling fewer tickets than even Planet 51, Space Chimps and Astro Boy. Mars was severely limited by its premise, which was better suited to a television cartoon, and its execution looked awkward, incoherent and creepy in the marketing. Mom appreciation was presumably the movie's point, but mom was minimized in the ads in favor of a random wild ride, featuring Three Dog Night's "Mama Told Me Not to Come" in a feeble attempt to connect with older adults.

Meanwhile, holdovers largely saw standard-issue drops. Rango ranked second with $22.6 million, slowing 41 percent for a $68.2 million tally in ten days. The Adjustment Bureau slipped 45 percent to $11.6 million, increasing its sum to $38.6 million in ten days, while Beastly tumbled 49 percent to $5 million for a $16.9 million total in ten days.

Two exceptions were The King's Speech and Gnomeo and Juliet. Best Picture-winning King's Speech suffered its steepest decline yet, down 43 percent to $3.6 million, demonstrating the ephemeral and overrated impact of Oscar. Its total, though, stood at a regal $129 million in 108 days. Gnomeo also saw its biggest drop yet, no doubt hurt by Mars Needs Moms moving in on its Disney 3D turf after Rango did a number on it last weekend. The animated comedy fell 50 percent to $3.6 million, lifting its tally to $89.1 million in 31 days.

Last Weekend

'Rango' Moseys Into Top Spot

The Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2010 - 'Alice' Stays Green, 'Green Zone' Opens in Red

• 2009 -
'Witch' Blasts Off, 'Watchmen' Burns Out

• 2008 - 'Horton' Hits It Big

• 2007 - Hordes Drive '300' to Record

• 2006 - 'Failure to Launch' Rockets Past Remakes

• 2005 - 'Robots' Rivets, 'Passion' Fails to Rise Again

Related Charts:

Weekend Box Office Results

• Alien Invasion Opening Weekends

• Werewolf Opening Weekends

• Sci-Fi Animation Opening Weekends