“Warm Bodies,” a teen romantic comedy that gives The Bard a zombie twist, is easily outperforming Sylvester Stallone's “Bullet to the Head' on its way to a runaway win at the weekend box office.
Loosely based on Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet,” Summit Entertainment's “Warm Bodies” will take in $20 million in its first three days. That topped action-fantasy mash-up “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” last week's No. 1 movie, which will wind up in second place with $9.2 million. And it crushed the disappointing “Bullet to the Head,” which debuted to just $4.5 million and finished in sixth place for Warner Bros.
Jonathan Levine (“50-50”) adapted the “Warm Bodies” screenplay from Isaac Marion's 2010 young adult novel of the same name and directed the film. The story follows the zombie lad R (Nicholas Hoult) who saves Julie (Teresa Palmer) from an attack by other zombies. When their relationship takes off, it threatens to transform the lifeless world. Rob Corddry, John Malkovich and Dave Franco co-star.
Marketing “Warm Bodies” to young audiences would appear to be in the sweet spot for Summit and its parent company Lionsgate, which had great success with movies based on young adult novels like the “Twilight” series and “Hunger Games.”
But getting the word out on the “zom-rom-com” was tricky, Lionsgate's executive vice-president and general sales manager David Spitz told TheWrap Sunday, because there weren't any comparable films upon which to base a marketing strategy.
“It was clear we had a unique property with this picture,” he said. “We thought about It and made a conscious decision to focus on the romantic and comedy aspects of this film, and our marketing team did a terrific job.”
"Warm Bodies" received a "B+" CinemaScore from audiences, which were 65 percent under 25 years of age and 60 percent female. Its PG-rating helped; 37 percent of the audience was under 18.
Spitz said it was too early to know if there would be a sequel to "Warm Bodies," which had a roughly $35 million production budget.
Meanwhile, Best Picture Oscar nominee “Silver Linings Playbook” keeps rolling. The overall domestic total for David O. Russell's gritty comedy is at $80.3 million after it took in another $8.1 million over the weekend. The Weinstein Company had added another 168 theaters to raise the screen count to 2,809 for its 12th weekend, and was off just 14 percent from last week.
Universal's Guillermo del Toro-produced horror thriller “Mama” was next with $6.7 million, and it has made $58.2 million in three weeks. Sony's Best Picture Oscar nominee “Zero Dark Thirty” followed at $5.3. The overall domestic total for Kathryn Bigelow's tale of the hunt for Osama bin Laden is $77.7 million after eight weeks.
Given the Super Bowl, “Bullet to the Head” is facing a tough Sunday since the older males it targets are sure to be preoccupied with the big game. The R-rated action film, produced for about $40 million, never got out of the blocks, with soft Friday and Saturday showings.
The audiences skewed 60 percent male and older, with a whopping 81 percent over 25 years of age. They gave it a “B-” CinemaScore.
"Bullet to the Head" failed to match the $7 million debut of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand" earlier this month. The two aging action stars will be teamed in “The Tomb,” which will be released in September by Summit Entertainment.
Three more Best Picture Oscar nominees filled out the top ten.
The Weinstein Company dropped “Django Unchained” from 230 theaters to 1,777 locations and still took in $3 million, giving a domestic total of $150.9 million after seven weeks. Universal's “Les Miserables” dropped 362 theaters to 1,848, added $2.4 million and is at $141.5 million after six weeks. “Lincoln” dropped 153 theaters to 1,756 and also took in $2.4 million, giving it a 13-week domestic total of $170.8 million.
Overall, the weekend is running about 15 percent behind Super Bowl weekend last year, when the sci-fi fantasy “Chronicle” opened to $22 million and the Daniel Radcliffe horror film “Woman in Black” debuted to nearly $21 million. The best opening ever on a Super Bowl weekend came in 2008, when "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" debuted to $31 million.