Image Credit: Tracy BennettWelcome back, Hollywood. After being in desperate need of a defibrillator this past month and a half, the box office finally roared back to life as three movies debuted to at least $25 million. And it was an exciting comeback as well, with a race so close that it’s too early to declare an official winner. But according to studio estimates, Sony’s romantic comedy Just Go With It barely squeezed out a victory by earning $31 million. If the result holds, it’ll be star Adam Sandler’s 11th film to open at No. 1. The $80 million movie, which also stars Jennifer Aniston, drew a crowd that was surprisingly 58 percent female. And despite reviews that were overwhelmingly negative, the PG-13 film scored a strong “A-” rating from CinemaScore audiences. With Valentine’s Day on Monday and President’s Day Weekend after that, Just Go With It will be able to further capitalize on its status as a “date movie” that appeals to both women and men.
He may be 28 years younger and five inches shorter than Sandler, but pop star Justin Bieber’s 3-D concert pic Justin Bieber: Never Say Never finished just $700,000 behind Just Go With It, according to estimates. The G-rated film debuted to $30.3 million, as throngs of Beliebers (even Johnny Depp is one) stormed theaters to witness the Grammy-nominated singer in three glorious dimensions. As expected, the audience was heavily female (84 percent) and young (67 percent less than 25 years old). And, also as anticipated, the modest $13 million film transported Bieber fans into a state of euphoria. While Never Say Never received an overall “A” grade from CinemaScore moviegoers, women rated it a perfect “A+.” Folks, whether you like him or not, the Bieber isn’t going away anytime soon.
In third place, Disney’s Gnomeo & Juliet surpassed the industry’s most optimistic expectations and grossed $25.5 million — the biggest February opening ever for an animated film. Disney took advantage of the market’s dearth of kid-friendly films and slickly advertised the G-rated movie, which was developed as a Miramax project, as a fun-for-the-whole-family treat. In spite of mediocre reviews (and the fact that this was, well, a Shakespeare adaptation starring lawn ornaments), moviegoers took the bait and liked what they saw, with the film receiving a “B+” CinemaScore grade. That wasn’t the case for the Roman Empire-set action film The Eagle, which debuted in fourth place with just $8.6 million. The Channing Tatum-Jamie Bell epic predictably skewed male (64 percent of the audience). But with a middling “C+” rating from CinemaScore graders, the PG-13 film will likely fade from theaters quickly. Thankfully, The Eagle had a lean budget of about $25 million.
The college thriller The Roommate rounded out the top five, dropping a less-than-expected 44 percent for $8.4 million. And in limited release, the Ed Helms comedy Cedar Rapids laughed up $311,000 from 15 locations, for an encouraging per-theater average just over $20,000. Check back next week as Hollywood keeps the new releases coming with the sci-fi action film I Am Number Four, the don’t-mess-with-Liam-Neeson thriller Unknown, and the first movie ever to feature a male comedian dressed as a woman, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.
1. Just Go With It — $31.0 mil
2. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never — $30.3 mil
3. Gnomeo & Juliet — $25.5 mil
4. The Eagle — $8.6 mil
5. The Roommate — $8.4 mil