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Box Office: 'Gnomeo & Juliet' tops 'Hall Pass' as 'Drive Angry' stalls out

February 27, 2011 | 10:44 am


What's the point of getting a hall pass if no one wants to come out and play? "Hall Pass," the latest comedy from the writer-director team of Peter and Bobby Farrelly about a couple of married guys who are given permission by their wives to play the field, took in $13.4 million in its opening weekend and finished second behind "Gnomeo & Juliet."

Overall, the weekend continued the slow start for Hollywood in 2011. So far this year, box office is down almost 21% and attendance is off 22% compared with the same period last year. That the 3-week-old "Gnomeo & Juliet" took the top spot is indicative of the lack of enthusiasm for much of Hollywood's efforts this year.

The $13.4-million take for "Hall Pass," which stars Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate, is below industry estimates. The predictions for how the raunchy comedy would fare ranged from $16 million to $20 million.

Warner Bros. Domestic Distribution President Dan Fellman said the idea that "Hall Pass" would take in $20 million in its opening weekend was "crazy" and that the movie "had a nice weekend."

"Hall Pass" skewed older than Warner Bros. had expected. Almost half of its audience was over 35. Of course, given the subject matter, one might have expected that a comedy about marriage, even one directed by the Farrelly brothers, who are known for being crude, would not hold a lot of appeal for college kids and young adults.

The audience for "Hall Pass" was primarily male, which also came as little surprise. About 55% of its audience was men, and the other 45% were women who may have lost a bet with their husbands and boyfriends.

Fellmen said he thought the movie would "do some catch-up" during the week and that it wouldn't be until after next weekend that Warner Bros. would know "where the legs are on this movie." The movie cost about $38 million to produce.

Though the opening numbers for "Hall Pass" were disappointing for Warner Bros., the performance of Nicolas Cage's latest action movie, "Drive Angry," was downright dismal.

The 3-D movie, produced by Nu Image Films and distributed by Summit Entertainment, took in just $5.1 million. It cost between $45 million and $50 million to make.

The lackluster performance will no doubt raise questions as to whether Cage, an Oscar winner for "Leaving Las Vegas," has any gas left in the tank. The movie, a violent action flick about a man trying to avenge the death of his daughter, will be in a Redbox soon.

For "Gnomeo & Juliet," a 3-D animated film distributed by Walt Disney Co., the first-place, $14.2-million finish in its third weekend is an achievement.

"Obviously, I wouldn't have projected us being No. 1 in our third weekend," said a gleeful Chuck Viane, who heads distribution for Walt Disney Studios. "We've had the absolute good luck of having no family competition for three weeks."

That will change next week when "Rango," from Viacom's Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures, opens.

Also still performing strong was "Unknown," the Warner Bros. thriller starring Liam Neeson, which finished first last weekend and ended up in third this weekend with $12.4 million. It was off 43% in box office from its first weekend, which is impressive.

Looks like Oscar excitement gave a boost to both "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter." The former was up 17% and the latter 2% from the previous weekend.

Here's the top 10, according to studio estimates and

1. "Gnomeo & Juliet" (Disney): $14.2 million in its third weekend. Domestic total: $75.1 million. Down 26% from previous weekend.

2. “Hall Pass" (Warner Bros): Opened to $13.4 million in debut weekend.

3. “Unknown” (Warner Bros): $12.4 million in second weekend. Domestic total: $42.8 million, down 43% from opening weekend.

4. “Just Go With It” (Sony): $11.1 million in its third weekend, down 40%. Domestic total: $79.4 million.

5. "I Am Number Four" (DreamWorks/Disney): $11 million in its second weekend, down 43%. Domestic total: $37.7 million.

6. “Never Say Never” (Paramount Insurge): $9.2 million in its third weekend, down 31%. Domestic total: $62.8 million.

7. “The King’s Speech” (Weinstein Co.): $7.6 million on its 14th weekend, up 17%. Domestic total: $114.5 million.

8. “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” (New Regency/20th Century Fox): $7.5 million on its second weekend, down 55%. Domestic total: $28.6 million.

9. "Drive Angry" (Nu Image/Summit): Opened to $5.5 million in its debut weekend.

10. "The Roommate" (Sony): $2.05 million in its 4th weekend, down 20%. Domestic total: $35.9 million.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Jason Sudeikis, left, and Owen Wilson in "Hall Pass." Credit: Peter Iovino / Warner Bros.

For the record: This post corrected to reflect that "The Roommate" finished 10th, not "True Grit."