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Posted at 08:40 AM ET, 03/14/2011

Weekend box office: ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ wins and, once again, critics lose


Aaron Eckhart, leading “Battle” to the top of the box office. (Photo by Richard Cartwright)
Battle: Los Angeles was marketed as an epic alien attack movie. Also epic? The bad reviews that accompanied it. (Roger Ebert’s in particular was a masterpiece: “Here’s a science-fiction film that’s an insult to the words ‘science’ and ‘fiction,’ and the hyphen in between them,” he wrote. Dang.)

But the critical flogging didn’t matter. “Battle” won the weekend box office , with $36 million. What other films deserve congratulations (or condolences) for their weekend performances? Let’s find out, then run down the top five finishers of the week.

Congratulations to...

Aliens: That strong performance for “Battle: Los Angeles” suggests that, despite the lackluster ticket sales for recent alien movies like “I Am Number Four” and “Skyline,” extra-terrestrial invasion flicks still hold some appeal. This is good news for J.J. Abrams (director of the upcoming Super 8) and Jon Favreau (director of Cowboys & Aliens,” also due out this summer).

Rango”: The animated Johnny Depp western was knocked out of the top spot. But it held pretty strong in second place, making an additional $23 million for a total gross of $68.6 million so far.

Adam Sandler: While you were busy living your life, Sandler’s latest, Just Go With It,” has spent the past five weeks earning more than $93 million. Even though it’s dropped in the weekend rankings (down to No. 8), it looks likely to cross the $100 million threshhold soon, which would make it the 12th Sandler movie to do so.

“Jane Eyre”: The latest Jane Austen-inspired adaptation opened in only a handful of theaters (four, to be exact) but made $182,000, for a per-screen average of $45,500. So the interest in Jane and her Mr. Rochester is still strong, if not in blockbuster territory.

Condolences to...

Mars Needs Moms”: The Disney cartoon, based on the book by Berke Breathed, had the week’s most dismal opening. It came in fifth place with a truly anemic $6.8 million out of the gate, especially considering the film’s reported $150 million production budget. Foiled by “Rango,” perhaps?

Catherine Hardwicke, Amanda Seyfriend and everyone involved in “Red Riding Hood”: This update of the fairy tale about a girl who is clueless enough to believe the promises of a wolf received even more savage reviews than “Battle: Los Angeles.” (“My, critics, what big fingers you have.” “The better to type about how terrible your movie is, my dear.”) That bad reception, coupled with a marketing campaign that clearly didn’t win over the coveted teen girl demographic, led to a third place opening for “Red,” and modest revenues of $14.1 million. Which is not good, but still better than “Mars Needs Moms.”

Film critics: Perhaps this should be a standing source for condolences at this point. But once again, scatching reviews from the critical community — this time for “Battle: Los Angeles” — had no impact on a movie’s box office success. What’s more, those reviews seem to be completely disconnected from audience response; the Cinemascore rating for “Battle,” based on reviews from ticket-buyers, was a B. Are critics too harsh, or are moviegoers too accepting of lousy films? Discuss among yourselves.

Now here are your top five movies of the weekend, based on studio projections:

1. “Battle: Los Angeles” — $36 million

2. “Rango” — $23 million

3. “Red Riding Hood” — $14.1 million

4. “The Adjustment Bureau” — $11.4 million

5. “Mars Needs Moms” — $6.8 million

And here’s your opportunity to predict next week’s box office winner via our weekly online poll:

By  |  08:40 AM ET, 03/14/2011

Categories:  Movies

 
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