Box Office Report: 'Identity Thief' Steals Spotlight from 'Snitch' and 'Dark Skies'

Plus: Oscar's Box Office Windfall

'Identity Thief'
'Identity Thief'
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WINNER OF THE WEEK: Nobody. After all, it's hard to declare a winner on a weekend when no film grosses more than $14.1 million. That's the estimate for Identity Thief, back on top after being briefly dethroned by A Good Day to Die Hard. That's actually not a bad session for a three-week-old movie. Its total to date, $93.7 million, means it'll be the first 2013 release to crack $100 million. Still, no new movie could do any better than that?

LOSERS OF THE WEEK: Dwayne Johnson and Keri Russell. There were two new wide release movies this week, neither of which did business worth writing home about. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had to settle for a second-place debut for his thriller Snitch, opening with an estimated $13.0 million. The wrestler/actor does well at the box office with his family comedies and straight-up action movies, but his more contemplative thrillers, like this one and Faster, aren't big draws. Snitch did about as well as expected, and it's no skin off Johnson's nose; he has three more movies coming out in the next three months.

Hear Music Nominated at the 2013 Oscars

And Russell has a day job to fall back on (starring in FX's spy drama series The Americans), which is good, because her sci-fi/horror tale Dark Skies scared up only an estimated $8.9 million, premiering in sixth place. Blame indifferent marketing (including a lack of screenings for critics, who gave it mixed reviews when they finally saw it) that made the film look like a genre outlier that was being dumped into the late-winter burying ground for movies studios don't know what to do with.

Dark Skies was The Weinstein Company's second alien-invasion movie in two weeks; the other one, family-friendly toon Escape From Planet Earth, held up pretty well, coming in at Numbe Three and losing just 31 percent of last week's business. Its estimated $11.0 million take gives it a total so far of $35.1 million. In fourth place, romantic drama Safe Haven lost half of last week's sales, bringing in an estimated $10.6 million, for a two-week total of $48.1 million. And A Good Day to Die Hard fell four spots to fifth place on estimated earnings of $10.0 million, a 60 percent drop from a week ago, for a two-week total of $51.8 million. Not too impressive.

TROPHY CASES: On Oscar weekend, which Best Picture contenders were moviegoers voting for? Judging by ticket sales – and this is a unique Oscar season in that all nine contenders are still in theaters – the fan favorite is Silver Linings Playbook. The Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence dramedy was Number Seven on the chart this weekend, with an estimated $6.1 million, down a negligible 3 percent from last week. The second best-selling Oscar nominee this weekend was Zero Dark Thirty, with an estimated $2.2 million, followed in close succession by Argo ($2.0 million), Life of Pi ($1.6 million), Lincoln ($1.5 million), and Django Unchained ($1.0 million). Even Amour, with its French subtitles and grim subject matter, has been capitalizing on its five nominations, earning about $800,000 this week for a total to date of $5.2 million (not bad for a foreign language movie these days). Les Miserables earned just shy of $600,000. And while Fox Searchlight didn't release figures this weekend for Beasts of the Southern Wild, it earned about $150,000 last weekend.

Even before the awarding of the trophies, the Oscars have already been very good to these nine movies, which have collectively earned more than $300 million since their nominations were announced on January 10th. In fact, two of the films, SLP and ZDT, earned most of their box office hauls after the nominations. Six of the contenders have earned more than $100 million each. (ZDT will likely make it seven; its total now stands at $91.6 million. Amour and Beasts, which had earned $12.4 million as of Thursday, are the outliers.) This year's grand experiment by the Academy – moving up the announcement date so that the nomination period is 12 days longer – appears to have been a big success. Not only did that extra time help the films earn more money before the February 24th Oscar ceremony, but it also meant more blockbuster hits in contention, which means more rooting interest among viewers, which should mean bigger ratings for the awards telecast.  There will probably be another small bounce for films that win statuettes on Sunday night, but nothing like the money earned during the nomination period. As they say, it's an honor just to be nominated – and it's lucrative, too.