BOX OFFICE: 'Act Of Valor' #1 With $24.7M Weekend, 'Good Deeds' $16M, 'Wanderlust' And 'Gone' Bomb

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 2ND UPDATE: Appropriately enough for Oscars Sunday, it’s another up weekend for the 8th straight week in 2012. Overall moviegoing is at $135M, which is a whopping +24% over last year. Needless to say, Hollywood is ecstatic (though not at the prospect at sitting through the interminable Academy Awards only to watch Harvey Weinstein gloat). Relativity’s R-rated Act Of Valor has stayed No. 1 all weekend. It’s the the Bandito Brothers’ independently financed low-budget U.S. Navy fighting force tale using actual SEALs from an original screenplay by Kurt Johnstad (300). (FYI, there was a novelization of that script, “Tom Clancy Presents Act of Valor”, written by Dick Couch and George Galdorsi and released in paperback by Clancy’s publisher. Relativity acquired the rights to the project last June for $13 million and a $30 million in prints and advertising commitment – the biggest money paid for a finished film with an unknown cast at that time. But Relativity didn’t spend $30M on P&A. That may have been the studio’s minimum legal commitment but it spent a lot more. Ryan Kavanaugh et al took out 4 wildely expensive Super Bowl game day ads. Yes, 4. That cost between $12M-14M alone (though Relativity claims it was $6.5+M). Educated guess is that they spent $45M-$50M total to hawk this actioner. Yes, they acquired domestic rights for cheap and aggressively pre-sold foreign. And, yes, the budget was only $12K. Looks like Relativity will recoup. Marketing-wise, Relativity launched an aggressive 400 screening program in over 40 markets as part of a multi-pronged strategy that spoke to gamers, action fans, sports fans, ethnic audiences, country music fans, patriots, military, women, and the faith-based community. It was all about word of mouth then and now: audiences are complying by giving it an ‘A’ CinemaScore.

Also getting an ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences was Lionsgate’s uplifting romantic drama Good Deeds. The result is middling for the Tyler Perry movie — does he clone them? — which was only playing in 2,132 locations. Butthen those films where he doesn’t crossdress as Madea (and offend with that stereotype) earn less. But it’s right in line with Lionsgate expectations and, besides, the budget was only $15M. Like them or not, this is yet another of writer, director, producer Perry’s soap operas targeted to his core fans. But is Tyler an interesting enough thesp to carry a movie virtually by himself or a big enough draw to feature only himself on the movie poster? Not really. (And I say this dreading his upcoming portrayal of fictional crimefighter Alex Cross.)

Universal’s alleged comedy Wanderlust bombed worse than even the studio expecte: lousy tracking for this R-rated nonsense had indicated the film would open below $10M. Audiences gave it a mediocre ‘B-‘ CinemaScore. The combination of Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd proved toxic to moviegoers. FYI: this greenlight was the studio’s payback to Role Models director David Wain and and his creative partner Ken Marino and mogul/producer Judd Apatow. Unfortunately the budget was $30M which is cheap by any standard except when a pic flops this badly. Sad, really, because Aniston’s flack-from-hell Stephen Huvane  pulled out all the nauseating stops by exploiting her personal life — as usual. Also tanking is Summit’s not-so-thrilling Gone starring Amanda Seyfried which earned only a ‘C+’ CinemaScore. This is the latest in a row of stinkers for that studio which is now part of Lionsgate. The only good news is that, based on the structure of the deal with producers Lakeshore Entertainment and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and other parties, the studio has a net risk of only $2 million.

Remember that kids on the East Coast were out of school this weekend so family holdovers Warner Bros’ Journey 2 and Disney’s The Secret Life Of Arrietty held strong — at least until Universal/Illumination’s Dr. Suess toon The Lorax opens next weekend. Sony’s The Vow passed the $100M domestic mark this 3rd weekend out as the first Screen Gems film to ever hit $100M.

Here’s the Top Ten (order determined by weekend grosses):

1. Act Of Valor (Relativity) NEW [3,039 Theaters]
Friday $9, Saturday $9.4, Weekend $24.7M

2. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds (Lionsgate) NEW [2,132 Theaters]
Friday $5.3M, Saturday $6.7M, Weekend: $16M

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