Super Bowl weekend's top two movies explored the dark recesses of caves and dorm rooms, and one (The Roommate) saw the faint glimmer of the top spot, while the other (Sanctum) sank to new depths for a modern 3D action movie. Overall business continued to be rather miserable, off over 23 percent from the same weekend last year, when Dear John led, marking the 13th down weekend in a row. It was also the least-attended Super Bowl weekend in 16 years.
The Roommate enrolled $15 million on approximately 2,800 screens at 2,534 locations, opening better than The Stepfather ($11.6 million). Among comparable Super Bowl weekend debuts, the psycho thriller's start was bigger than The Uninvited and The Eye but much smaller than When a Stranger Calls and Boogeyman, not to mention Dear John's $30.5 million last year. Roommate was extremely derivative of Single White Female (which had higher attendance) among other titles, but its message was clear and relatable to its target audience, who likely hadn't seen Single White Female. Distributor Sony Pictures' exit polling indicated that 65 percent of Roommate's audience was female and 61 percent was under 21 years old. Roommate also marked the eighth time since 2001 that a Sony release has topped Super Bowl weekend, following Dear John, Messengers in 2007, When a Stranger Calls in 2006, Boogeyman in 2005, You Got Served in 2004, Darkness Falls in 2003 and The Wedding Planner in 2001.
With 84 percent of its gross coming from 3D presentations (including 17 percent from 178 IMAX 3D venues), Sanctum unearthed $9.4 million on around 3,300 screens at 2,787 locations, which was less than Piranha 3D's $10.1 million start but better than Pandorum. Only Alpha and Omega and My Soul to Take had lower-grossing debuts among broadly-released, modern 3D fare. Among spelunking thrillers, Sanctum grossed more than The Descent and The Cave, though its attendance was less than either one, and its opening was below par for survival thrillers in general (including Open Water). Sanctum's marketing pitched the 3D action and James Cameron's involvement (including an on-camera interview in some ads), but flunked on the fundamentals, avoiding the movie's premise and characters, let alone showing compelling ones. Distributor Universal Pictures' research showed that 53 percent of Sanctum's audience was female and 65 percent was aged 30 years and older.
Down 30 percent, The King's Speech stood its ground again, earning $7.7 million for an $83.5 million sum in 73 days. Fellow Oscar contenders Black Swan and The Fighter were still in the mix as well. Swan fell 34 percent to $3.4 million for a $95.9 million total in 66 days, while Fighter dipped 28 percent to $2.8 million for an $82.4 million tally in 59 days. True Grit retreated 38 percent to $4.6 million, upping its bounty to $154.9 million in 47 days.
The Rite took the most severe hit among nationwide releases, plummeting 62 percent to $5.6 million for a $23.7 million sum in ten days. Huge drop-offs are the norm for its genre. Fellow second-weekend release, The Mechanic, slowed a Statham standard 54 percent to $5.3 million for a $20 million total in ten days. The Green Hornet was higher than both in its third weekend, down 47 percent to $6 million. With an $87.1 million tally in 24 days, it's a hair below Pineapple Express's final gross.
On Sunday, the studios generally predicted that the Super Bowl would lead to 60-72 percent drops from Saturday to Sunday, but the range turned out to be 64-76 percent (72 percent was the extreme last year), leading to most movies being overestimated. Sanctum was the exception, coming in over $200,000 higher than Universal's estimate, while The King's Speech was the most overestimated title, winding up nearly $600,000 less than The Weinstein Company's estimate.