Limitless led the way this weekend, while Rango held up nicely and Battle: Los Angeles dropped sharply.

‘Limitless’ Takes First with $18.9 Million

on March 21, 2011 by Daniel Garris
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Limitless exceeded expectations this weekend with a first place debut of $18.91 million. The Relativity Media release starring Bradley Cooper gave Relativity its largest opening weekend to date as a distributor (its previous best being the $10.61 million debut of January's Season of the Witch). Making the weekend victory even sweeter for Limitless was that it was the least expensive of this weekend's three wide releases. There is no question that Limitless was helped greatly by its ad during the Super Bowl, which helped build up significant pre-release buzz.

Limitless skewed fairly evenly between female moviegoers (52 percent) and male moviegoers (48 percent). Despite its PG-13 rating, the film still skewed fairly heavily towards moviegoers over 25 (60 percent). After opening with $6.63 million on Friday, Limitless held up fairly well throughout the rest of the weekend. It registered an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.85 to 1, which suggests solid holding power going forward.

The weekend's other big story was the solid start of The Lincoln Lawyer. The Lionsgate drama starring Matthew McConaughey opened in fourth with $13.21 million, which was also ahead of pre-release expectations. In the final days before its release, Lionsgate was able to build buzz with its discount ticket promotion with Groupon and Fandango. At the end of the day, the benefit from the amount of buzz generated by the promotion will likely exceeded the amount of the film's discounted gross Lionsgate will cover. According to the distributor, just under 40,000 discounted tickets were redeemed this weekend and just under 200,000 discounted tickets were sold overall. That would lead to an inflation of this weekend's gross by roughly $80,000 and an inflation of the film's eventual total gross by roughly $400,000.

The Lincoln Lawyer opened with $4.09 million on Friday and held up extremely well as the weekend went on. It registered an opening weekend Friday ratio of 3.23 to 1, which is especially impressive when factoring in the ongoing NCAA Basketball Tournament. That is a very strong sign for the film going forward, as is the fact that moviegoers over 25 (who typically don't rush out on opening weekend) accounted for a massive 85 percent of the film's audience.

Finishing right behind The Lincoln Lawyer was Universal's Paul. The sci-fi comedy starring and written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost took fifth with $13.04 million. That was in line with expectations and was quite respectable given the modest size of the North American audience for the previous two films from the team of Pegg and Frost. Like this weekend's other two wide releases, Paul also held up relatively well as the weekend went on. It opened with $4.47 million on Friday, giving it an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.92 to 1. Coming as no surprise, Paul skewed towards male moviegoers (56 percent) and moviegoers over 25 (58 percent).

Paul has already grossed $28.1 million internationally, where it has been playing in a limited number for markets for several weeks. The United Kingdom is responsible for $22.7 million of that total alone. After this weekend's domestic debut the worldwide total for Paul currently stands at $41.1 million.

On the heels of strong Spring Break enhanced midweek grosses this past week, Paramount's Rango held up nicely this weekend. The computer animated film featuring Johnny Depp held steady in second with $15.08 million and was down just 33 percent from last weekend. Rango has now grossed $92.34 million in 17 days, leaving it just $7.66 million away from reaching the $100 million domestic milestone. Rango was clearly helped out this weekend by the lack of new competition for family audiences. However, that won't be the case going forward with Fox's Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules entering the marketplace this coming Friday and Universal's Hop arriving one week afterwards.

The news wasn't as good for Sony's Battle: Los Angeles. The high-profile sci-fi action film was down two spots and a sharp 59 percent from last weekend's first place debut.  The film took third place with $14.54 million.  Battle: Los Angeles didn't hold up especially well during the midweek and that trend continued into the weekend. In this case the rapid declines may have less to do with word of mouth and more to do with the film's genre, which is historically front-loaded. The solid performances of this weekend's three wide releases as whole certainly didn't help matters either for Battle: Los Angeles. The film's ten-day gross stands at $60.54 million, placing it 2 percent behind the pace of 2008's 10,000 B.C.

Additional reporting by Phil Contrino.

Tags: Battle: Los Angeles, Rango, Paul, The Lincoln Lawyer, Limitless
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