WINNERS OF THE WEEK: Almost everyone. In what was expected to be a slow box office weekend, several movies outperformed expectations, starting with The Croods. The prehistoric cartoon comedy, which pundits had predicted would open around $40 million, drew spring-break family audiences to the tune of an estimated $44.7 million.
Olympus Has Fallen opened in second place but, in a way, did even better. Predictions had the White-House-under-siege thriller premiering around $21 million, but it debuted even stronger, with an estimated $30.5 million. That marks the largest opening yet for new-ish distributor FilmDistrict. It also marks the first hit in a long time for leading man Gerard Butler, and the first old-school R-rated action movie of the year to enjoy a promising start. Plus, it gets to steal the thunder of the similarly-premised White House Down, which has a bigger budget and bigger stars but doesn't open for another three months.
After two weeks on top, Oz the Great and Powerful slipped to third place, but it lost only a modest 47 percent of last week's business, winding up with an estimated $22.0 million, for a total to date of $177.6 million (by far the biggest hit of 2013 so far). Holding up well against Olympus was thriller The Call, which earned another estimated $8.7 million, good for fourth place and a ten-day total of $30.9 million.
Also coming on strong this week was the aptly-timed Spring Breakers. After last week's strong debut on just three screens, the Disney-Channel-Girls-Gone-Wild movie expanded to 1,104 screens and pulled in an estimated $5.0 million, finishing at Number Six.
LOSERS OF THE WEEK: Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Admission was the only new movie that underperformed this weekend. Expected to open around $10 million, it debuted instead with an estimated $6.4 million, premiering in fifth place. Fey and Rudd may be critics' darlings, but their romantic dramedy was not, and reviews matter to the film's target audience of older women. A B- grade from CinemaScore indicates weak word-of-mouth on top of the lackluster reviews. The film cost only about $13 million to make, so it could still turn a profit, but this weekend's grosses were the box office equivalent of getting the thin envelope in the mail from the college of your choice.
HIDDEN GEMS: The Sapphires, the Australian musical starring Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids) and based on the true story of a 1960s girl group, did very well in its limited-release premiere. That is, it earned just $41,000, but that's a good $10,230 per screen in four venues. (By comparison, The Croods opened with an $11,000 per screen average, and Olympus enjoyed a $9,800 per screen average.) Graffiti comedy Gimme the Loot did even better per screen; it opened in just one venue but scored $23,400. At the other end of the spectrum, sketch humor anthology InAPPropriate Comedy (featuring such big names as Lindsay Lohan, Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, and Michelle Rodriguez), opened with $172,000 on 275 screens, or just $624 per screen. Finally, a film that makes Movie 43's performance look good.