Welcome back to the Box Office Report, the thinking person's guide to cineplexonomics. It was a weekend of modest earnings for Hollywood, dominated by none other than Liam Neeson. The 59-year-old actor plays yet another grizzled action hero — this one too preoccupied with kicking lupine butt to submit to a long-overdue prostate exam. Rock on, Liam!
1. The Grey (Open Road Films): $20 million in 3,185 theaters
High-concept wins the day every time in Hollywood, and what higher concept can one possibly muster than Liam Neeson tracked through an Alaskan wasteland by a genetically modified pack of hyperintelligent wolves who operate a fleet of laser-mounted snowmobiles*? It's a premise that practically dares you not to shell out the $175 in tickets, babysitting, parking and concession counter fees it will cost you to find out who wins. And so it did: The Grey easily took the weekend.
*Certain plot details may have shifted or been dropped entirely during the development process.
2. Underworld Awakening (Screen Gems): $12.5 million in 3,078 theaters [Week 2]
A 51 percent dip in profits is actually a feather in the cap of the fourth Underworld film, as all the previous entries in the monster-battle series suffered even bigger second-week losses. It's almost as if something was hampering the natural spread of its bad word of mouth. Sponsored Twitter censorship, perhaps? A powerful new tool in film marketing!
3. One For the Money (Lionsgate): $11.75 million in 2,737 theaters
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who make sure to see a new Katherine Heigl movie the second it arrives in the theaters, and everyone who isn't your twice-divorced aunt. It's a rare gift to be an actress in your thirties who has mastered the art of alienating any moviegoer under 50. Heigl is the diabetic candy of movie stars. (Please don't unwrap her during the performance.)
4. Red Tails (LucasFilm/Fox): $10.4 million in 2,573 theaters [Week 2]
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5. Man on a Ledge (Summit): $8.3 million in 2,9989 theaters
An extremely vague marketing campaign offered little insight into what this Sam Worthington movie was about, leading to overwhelming indifference at the box office. It's a thought-process that played out something like this: "Wait — what man? Which ledge? How does he plug into his avatar? Why are his legs working? What time is it? Are you hungry? Me too. Let's grab a bite and skip this tightrope-walking movie. It's too confusing." - Joe Q. Public
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.