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'Act Of Valor' Tops Box Office With Surprising $24 Million


Though it looked like "Act of Valor" would have a hard time finding its target demographic, the Relativity Media distribution had no problem scooping up action audiences over the weekend, pushing it to the top of the box office with a studio estimated $24.70 million. Tyler Perry's "Good Deeds" meanwhile didn't get off to the start that Perry releases typically do, helping it gather only $16 million in opening revenue. While "Good Deeds" was somewhat of a disappointment, other new releases "Gone" and "Wanderlust" really struggled over the weekend, as neither landed in the top five and both seem poised for very short runs in theaters.

Using real-life Navy SEALs instead of prominent action stars, "Act of Valor" looked like it would have a hard time competing with established action movies like "Safe House" and "Ghost Rider." But even with a miniscule production budget of just $12 million and so-so reviews, the PG-13 action flick ended up with more than $8,000 per site at more than 3,000 total venues, easily propelling it to the top of the box office charts.

With some momentum coming off of a chart-topping weekend, "Act of Valor" should also have some success in the next couple of weekends as well; the major release of next weekend is family flick "The Lorax" and there are no action releases on the schedule until "John Carter" hits theaters on March 9th. Look for "Act of Valor" to put together at least one more sizeable weekend and to slip past $40 million domestically for its first 10 days in theaters, making it one of the more impressive releases so far this year considering its limited budget.

While things look to be on the up and up for "Act of Valor," Tyler Perry's "Good Deeds" doesn't seem to have the same amount of pull with its target demographic. Perry has been used to landing atop the charts over the last five years, but Perry's typical audience wasn't nearly as interested in drama "Good Deeds" as his comedy releases in the "Madea" franchise. Following a lukewarm opening, "Good Deeds" will probably drop off significantly in its second weekend, which would be consistent with most of Perry's releases to date.

Aiming mostly at adult audiences this weekend, R-rated comedy "Wanderlust" once again proved that having popular actors atop the cast won't automatically translate to big opening numbers. Even with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd starring and a decent critical consensus, "Wanderlust" managed a sub-par $3,297 per venue at only 2,002 total sites, giving the Universal release just $6.60 million in opening revenue.

Having a similar issue finding its target demographic was thriller "Gone," which put up an underwhelming $5 million in opening revenue for distributor Summit. A lack of major competition on the upcoming schedule should help, but "Gone" will likely be well out of the top ten by the end of next weekend.

While some of the new releases really struggled over the weekend, older titles like "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," "Safe House" and "The Vow" all continued to hit with their target demographics. "Journey 2" didn't put up the enormous opening revenues that "Safe House" or "The Vow" did, but it has also seen a very minimal drop since its opening weekend, pushing it to $76 million domestically and a very impressive $235 million worldwide. Even if "Journey 2" drops significantly next weekend with the release of "The Lorax," it's already a sizeable commercial success for distributor Warner Brothers.

Meanwhile, "The Vow" continued to find date audiences over the weekend and ended up becoming the first 2012 release to cross $100 million domestically. Though "The Vow" does seem to be finally losing some steam with its intended audience, it has already greatly surpassed expectations for a $30 million production.

The weekend was also the first since early February that action-thriller "Chronicle" didn't land in the top ten after a very impressive box office run. With a production budget of just $12 million and no star power whatsoever, "Chronicle" rode very positive reviews (85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) to a domestic intake of $58 million and a worldwide pull of $95 million. The success of "Chronicle" should open the door for a bevy of other similar releases next winter.

Following an up and down month for new releases, the box office will get a shot in the arm as the calendar flips over to March. Hitting theaters March 2nd, "The Lorax" should be able to scoop up family audiences and Dr. Seuss lovers alike, which will likely be enough for it to pass "The Vow" and take over as the number one box office draw in the early portion of 2012. R-rated comedy "Project X" will also hit theaters looking to find a similar audience that made "The Hangover" a cultural phenomenon.

Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 2/24/12 - 2/26/12 (In Millions), [RTT Prediction]:

1. Act of Valor (Relativity Media): $24.70 [$12]

2. Good Deeds (Lionsgate): $16 [$21]

3. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Brothers): $13.48 [$11]

4. Safe House (Universal): $11.40 [$14]

5. The Vow (Sony/Screen Gems): $10 [$13]

6. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Sony): $8.80 [$9.3]

7. This Means War (Fox): $8.50 [$9]

8. Wanderlust (Universal): $6.60 [$9.5]

9. Gone (Summit): $5 [$9.5]

10. The Secret World of Arrietty (Buena Vista): $4.50 [N/A]

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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