The Grey Box Office Weekend

January 30, 2012 by staff 

The Grey Box Office Weekend, Liam Neeson, fighter of wolves, may be the closest thing the box office has to an alpha male.  The 59-year-old actor’s latest thriller, “The Grey,” debuted in first place with a better-than-expected $20 million, according to studio estimates.

That places the R-rated film just below the openings of Neeson’s “Taken” ($24.7 million) and “Unknown” ($21.9 million). It also represents a major win for Open Road Films, the new distributor formed by AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas. Although “The Grey” cost a reported $34 million to produce, Open Road acquired the wilderness-survival movie for just $5 million.

The well-reviewed but admittedly harsh film earned a middling “B-” rating from CinemaScore audiences. According to the market-research firm, 71 percent of the audience was at least 25 years old. Of particular interest, 67 percent of moviegoers listed Neeson as the reason they purchased a ticket to “The Grey,” confirming the actor’s drawing power. Neeson is now taking suggestions on what animals he should confront next. My vote: Alvin and the Chipmunks.

The weekend’s two other new movies, “One for the Money” and “Man on a Ledge,” witnessed less impressive debuts. Both films were promoted with $6 ticket offers through online coupon sites (Groupon for “One for the Money” and LivingSocial for “Man on a Ledge”). Also, with Lionsgate’s recent acquisition of Summit Entertainment, the studio was essentially competing against itself — “One for the Money” is a Lionsgate release, while “Man on a Ledge” is from Summit.

“One for the Money,” a PG-13 action comedy starring Katherine Heigl as a bail-enforcement agent, landed in third place with $11.8 million. That’s slightly better than what many industry experts predicted, but still represents Heigl’s worst opening since breaking out in 2007′s “Knocked Up.” There’s a noticeable downward trajectory to the star’s recent box-office performance, with each of her last four films opening to a smaller amount than the movie before it. “One for the Money” drew an audience that was 75 percent female, and CinemaScore participants gave it a “B-” grade.

“Man on a Ledge” underwhelmed with $8.3 million — enough for fifth place. The PG-13 thriller stars “Avatar’s” Sam Worthington, who has yet to

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