CRAZY FOR 'SHUTTER ISLAND': Scorsese's & DiCaprio's Biggest Alone & Together; Opens To $40.2M Weekend

Leonardo DiCaprio Still In Thriller Mode

SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Paramount’s delay of Shutter Island‘s domestic release from 2009 to 2010, once widely questioned, now looks shrewdly strategic. Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone), the psychological and supernatural thriller made $14.1 million Friday and $17M Saturday from 2,991 theaters and $40.2M for its debut on a weekend it has all to itself. That’s a big number for an R-rated film, that cost $100+M with large gross participations (but only $75 million net of the Massachusetts rebate). Explained one studio exec to me, “The delay only helped the movie with more time for the trailer to play and the ability to use the Super Bowl and Olympics to finish the campaign.” Indeed, a MovieTickets poll named the Shutter Island traileras the big football game’s 3rd most memorable.

This 4th film collaboration between Marty Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio is their highest grossing debut ever, bigger than 2002’s Gangs Of New York, 2004’s The Aviator, and 2006’s The Departed (which posted their previous biggest opening ever of $26.8M). That pic was also Scorsese’s best debut, now beaten by Shutter Island which will also be DiCaprio’s biggest, besting the $30M of 2002’s Steven Spielberg-directed Catch Me If You Can. But Shutter Island was the target of bad buzz following Paramount’s abrupt decision to push the widely touted 2009 awards contender from October 2nd out of competition entirely to 2010. The pic was already on people’s Oscar list. (Paramount Moves ‘Shutter Island’) At the time, Paramount chief Brad Grey said he was delaying to give the pic “every possible chance to succeed both creatively and financially”. Also, Leo wasn’t going to be available to promote the pic internationally. So the studio settled on the release date of February 19th because “that’s when Silence Of The Lambs came out” back in 1991. But Hollywood chattered that this pic must have been god-awful for the studio to do something that drastic. Actually, this American gothic tale is old-fashioned and older adults-oriented. The reviews this weekend were mixed, but 61% positive among top critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Overseas, Shutter Island opened in 9 countries with $9M.

The other movies all had huge drops coming off the double-holiday weekend: Warner Bros’ Valentine’s Day fell -61% from its opening last Friday and -70% from last weekend, Fox’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief -58%, and Universal’s The Wolfman -70% from last Friday and last weekend, cementing that movie’s complete disintegration. A bitter legacy of fired Universal Pictures chief Marc Shmuger for the studio, the film cost a giant $200M (but with tax credits the net budget came down to about $175M). Not only did the pic drop huge at the domestic box office its 2nd weekend, but it also fell apart overseas where it hadn’t opened particularly well anyway. As one of my financial sources says, “This is a huge, huge writeoff.”

Roman Polanski’s latest, The Ghost Writer, was a pickup by Summit Entertainment. Platforming in 4 theaters, it opened to $49K Friday and $70K Saturday for a per screen average of $44,750 — the weekend’s biggest — and should have made $179K by end of Sunday. Polanski was given the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Lion Award for Best Director for the pic, which will expand into 10 additional markets as well as adding theaters in LA and NY. Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight’s My Name Is Khan ushered in its 2nd week with $720K from 125 theatres for a cume of $3.2M after opening to the highest weekend number for a Bollywood film in North America.

Here’s the Top 10 as of Friday (numbers will be refined in the AM):
1. Shutter Island (Paramount) NEW [2,991 Theaters]
Friday $14.1M, Saturday $16.3M, Est Sunday $9.8, $40.2M Weekend
2. Valentine’s Day (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,665 Theaters]
Friday $5.6M, Saturday $7.1M, Weekend $17.1M, Cume $87.4M
3. Avatar (Fox) Week 10 [2,582 Theaters]
Friday $3.9M, Saturday $7.3M, Weekend $16.1M, Cume $687.8M
4. Percy Jackson & The Olympians (Fox) Week 2 [3,396 Theaters]
Friday $4.0M, Saturday $6.7M, Weekend $15.3M, Cume $58.7M
5. The Wolfman (Universal) Week 2 [3,223 Theaters]
Friday $2.8M, Saturday $4.3M, Weekend $9.8M, Cume $50.3M
6. Dear John (Relativity/Sony) Week 3 [3,062 Theaters]
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $3.1M, Weekend $7.3M, Cume $65.9M
7. Tooth Fairy (Fox) Week 5 [2,523 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $2.0M, Weekend $4.5M, Cume $49.8M
8. Crazy Heart (Fox Searchlight) Week 10 [1,089 Theaters]
Friday $765K, Saturday $1.4M,Weekend $3.0M, Cume $21.5M
9. From Paris With Love (Lionsgate ) Week [2,311 Theaters]
Friday $725K, Saturday $1.1M, Weekend $2.5M, Cume $21.2M
10. Edge of Darkness (GK Films/Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,118 Theaters]
Friday $625K, Saturday $1.0M,Weekend $2.2M, Cume $40.3M

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