The movie business has been on the rebound so far in 2012, but it was still a huge surprise that two of this weekend's new releases completely over performed at the box office. Both 20th Century Fox's "Chronicle" and CBS Films' "The Lady in Black" were only expected to make between $13-15 million at the most and that was taking into account the diminished grosses on Super Bowl Sunday. Instead, both companies have unexpected hits on their hands.
Josh Tranks' critically acclaimed "Chronicle," which found a shocking 69 on Metacritic and an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes," is estimated to gross $22 million over the weekend. 20th Century Fox says the film cost just $15 million, but even if many in the industry find that hard to believe the superb opening shows the studio has a hit on their hands. Taking into account the picture's lack of any star power or recognizable names, it's a great debut for a studio whose marketing efforts haven't usually been up to snuff over the past few years.
Last week's champ, "The Grey," dropped to third with another $9.5 million and $34.7 million to date. The Liam Neeson thriller should easily surpass the $50 million mark and is the first major success for newbie distributor Open Road Films.
Universal's family film "Big Miracle" couldn't pull one off anything close to a miracle this weekend placing fourth with just $8.5 million. The "free the grey whales movie" received solid reviews, but had problems generating interest with the family audience needed to make it a hit. Universal will have to hope for strong word of mouth to keep this true story tale in theaters.
Dropping to fifth was "Underworld Awakening" with another $5.6 million. After three weeks, the fourth installment in the franchise has generated $54.3 million. Thanks to higher 3D ticket prices it should easily surpass the previous top grosser in the series, 2006's "Underworld: Evolution" which made $62.3 million domestically.
Next weekend's new releases including "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," "Safe House" and "Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace in 3D."
Final box office figures are released on Monday and may be substantially different because of the unexpected outcome of the Super Bowl on movie attendance.