After a quiet stretch at the North American box office, Hollywood discovered once again that audiences want to see the world and a cast of B-list actors ripped into pieces in a blitz of computer-generated effects.
It is rare for a movie not based on a pre-existing brand, franchise or hit novel to deliver such robust results. Sony said “2012,” with a budget of $200 million, had the highest worldwide opening ever for an original movie.
Sony, which has now opened eight movies in a row in first place, pushed the picture with a marketing campaign that highlighted its summeresque qualities: big, nonthinking, rip-’em-up popcorn fare. (Most reviews have been negative.) In the latest example of the studio’s forward-thinking promotional campaigns, the first wave of billboards simply read, “Search: 2012.” Sony knew that a raft of links about the doomsday date often attributed to the Maya would pop up in Google.
At the other end of the spectrum the tiny independent film “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” the story of a Harlem girl who is brutally abused by her parents, played to sold-out theaters in limited release, selling about $6.1 million for a new total of $8.9 million.
If that strong pace keeps up when this Lionsgate film opens nationwide on Friday, it could blossom into a substantial hit, an enormous feat given the subject matter. Lee Daniels directed the film, with Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry lending promotional backing.
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol” benefited from moviegoers who seemed more in a holiday spirit than when the movie opened to disappointing results last weekend. The movie, directed by Robert Zemeckis, was second, selling a solid $22.3 million for a new total of $63.3 million.
“The Men Who Stare at Goats,” a comedy from Overture Films starring George Clooney, was third with an estimated $6.2 million ($23.4 million total). “Precious” was fourth. Fifth place went to the Michael Jackson concert documentary “This Is It” (Sony) with about $5.1 million ($67.2 million total).