The weekend's box-office receipts proved that Bradley Cooper doesn't need his "Hangover" or "A-Team" buddies to open a movie, Matthew McConaughey can impress the critics when he skips the easy romantic comedy cash, and the pair responsible for "Shaun of the Dead" have yet to exhaust their well of genre love letters as "Limitless," "The Lincoln Lawyer" and "Paul" hit theaters.
Cooper's "Limitless" was the #1 movie in America with a $19 million debut, according to studio estimates. It's the first flick to depend on Cooper's star power since the heartthrob actor hit it big in "The Hangover," the ensemble buddy romp that became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever. Overall, the box office was down 10 percent from last year, but this wasn't a bad debut.
Matthew McConaughey, known for going shirtless in several poorly reviewed but hugely successful romantic comedies, told the Toronto Star he took a pay cut to play an attorney reduced to living in his car in "The Lincoln Lawyer," and that move certainly paid off. "The Lincoln Lawyer" debuted at #4 with $13.4 million, and perhaps better still for the 41-year-old actor, it boasted an 81 percent critical average according to Rotten Tomatoes. By comparison, his "Fool's Gold" mustered a mere 10 percent with critics just a couple of years ago.
Lionsgate Films paid theaters the difference for 40,000 tickets that were redeemed through a Groupon promotion, where subscribers to the discount email service were able to pick up tickets to "The Lincoln Lawyer" for just $6. The studio reported that 190,000 tickets were sold this way, which means many folks will likely continue to redeem them throughout the film's run in theaters.
"Paul," the weekend's other new wide release, was #5 with $13.2 million. Written by and starring Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, "Paul" is a road trip movie about an alien that is as much a comedic love letter to classic sci-fi films like "E.T." and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" as their previous movies "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead" paid homage to the action and zombie genres, respectively (and respectfully, for that matter). With a production budget of $40 million and worldwide appeal, the movie is sure to do fine for co-distributors Relativity and Universal.
Seth Rogen voices the namesake alien in "Paul" and the film's opening was stronger than that of his "Observe and Report" and his Kevin Smith-directed "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." It easily outdid "Hot Fuzz" as well, which debuted with $5.8 million in 2007 and went on to gross $23.6 million in the U.S. While 71 percent of critics enjoyed "Paul," it does bear the unfortunate distinction of being the worst reviewed of the Frost/Pegg collaborations next to the 91 percent earned by both "Fuzz" and "Shaun."
"Limitless" was the only new release that was able to beat "Rango." The blockbuster animated movie starring the voice talent of Johnny Depp as a lizard-turned-sheriff was #2 over the weekend with another $15 million in receipts for a $92 million total.
"Battle: Los Angeles" was #3 with $14.6 million for a $60.6 million total. "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke's gothic take on "Red Riding Hood" was #6 with $7.2 million for a two-week total of just $25.9 million. The movie's critical rating came in at just 11 percent.
The Matt Damon vehicle "The Adjustment Bureau" was #7 with $5.9 million for a $48.7 million total. Disney's "Mars Needs Moms," one of the biggest flops in recent memory, was #8 with just $5.3 million for a $15.4 million total against an estimated $150 million production budget. "Beastly," which had a release date close behind Alex Pettyfer's other teen-friendly flick, "I Am Number Four," was #9 with $3.3 million for a $22.2 million total. The comedy "Hall Pass" rounded out the top 10 with $2.6 million for a $39.5 million total.
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