Weekend Briefing: 'Life as We Know It,' 'My Soul to Take,' 'Secretariat' Enter Race

by Brandon Gray

October 8, 2010

This weekend, four movies enter the nationwide fray: Life as We Know It claims over 3,600 screens at 3,150 locations, Secretariat stakes out approximately 3,600 screens at 3,072 locations, My Soul to Take nabs under 2,700 screens at 2,572 locations, and It's Kind of a Funny Story ekes out 742 locations, broadening beyond a specialized run at the last minute. Last weekend's top movie, The Social Network, will still be in the mix, given the modest nature of the new batch.

Life as We Know It, Secretariat and My Soul to Take have each received sizable marketing exposure. Life as We Know It, which features Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, has been promoted as a generic baby-raising comedy-drama, relying solely on the charm of its stars as they fumble around with a baby. The movie's relentless ads haven't presented anything else to distinguish it. Comparable recent pictures include Raising Helen, Jersey Girl and No Reservations, though it also comes off as a follow-up to Heigl's Knocked Up.

Secretariat marks Walt Disney Pictures' first sports drama based on a true story since Invincible in 2006. Following the success of Remember the Titans, the studio made a series of sports dramas, including The Rookie and Miracle. Invincible, Rookie and Miracle are all referenced in Secretariat's advertising campaign, which shoots for a rousing, inspirational tone with its clearly laid-out tale of the famous Triple Crown winner and his owner (played by Diane Lane). Ads also referenced The Blind Side, though that's not a direct comparison given its subject matter. The most obvious comp is Seabiscuit, the benchmark for horse movies that made $20.9 million on its opening weekend (or the equivalent of over $27 million adjusted for ticket price inflation), but it had more hype and a best-selling book behind it. Seabiscuit also had a more pronounced underdog story than Secretariat, which is, after all, based on arguably the greatest racehorse on record.

Both Life as We Know It and Secretariat had sneak previews last Saturday and had about the same capacity. Showing at 811 locations, Life as We Know It played to 60 percent capacity. 70 percent of the audience was female and 51 percent was under 30 years old, and 82 percent rated the picture "excellent" or "very good." Secretariat sneaked at 804 locations and played to 59 percent capacity. Its audience was 55 percent aged 35 years and older and 55 percent female, while "couples" comprised 65 percent and "families" 30 percent. 93 percent rated it "excellent" or "very good," tying Miracle's score.

Meanwhile, My Soul to Take is the latest horror movie presented in the 3D illusion (3D theater count unavailable as of this writing), following My Bloody Valentine 3-D, The Final Destination, Piranha 3D and Resident Evil: Afterlife. It's main selling points, though, are writer-director Wes Craven, bringing a movie that looks similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street and Shocker, and a shot of a creepy hand grabbing a teen in his bed.

In Box Office Mojo's reader polling, My Soul to Take has generated the most opening weekend interest, scoring 9.7 percent in its "when will you see it" poll, but that's to be expected for this type of picture and it's relatively low, coming in slightly less than Pulse. It's also much less than the recent 3D horror movies, including Piranha 3D (17.4 percent) and The Final Destination (21.1 percent).

Secretariat notched a relatively stronger 8.1 percent opening weekend score, which was several times better than past October horse movies Flicka and Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story. Its "opening weekend"-to-"sometime in theaters" ratio was close to Invincible, Cinderella Man and The Blind Side, but with lower scores (Invincible was the closest at 9.9 percent "opening weekend").

Life as We Know It brought up the rear with 7.5 percent, and its pattern wasn't far off from The Ugly Truth and Killers, though its scoring was lower. Its results were closest to P.S. I Love You.

It's Kind of a Funny Story wasn't polled, due to its late entry as a nationwide release.

Last Weekend:
'Social Network' No Wallflower in Its Debut

This Timeframe in Past Years:
2009 - 'Couples Retreat' Advances, 'Paranormal Activity' Spikes
2008 -
'Chihuahua' Remains Top Dog
2007 - 'Why Did I Get Married' Brightens Drab Weekend
2006 - 'Grudge' Budges in Popularity
2005 - 'Fog' Tops Soggy Weekend, Few Visit 'Elizabethtown'

Similar Movies to:
'Life as We Know It'

'My Soul to Take'

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