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Monday Morning Mixer: The box office 'Warms' up

Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:49 AM Central

by John Couture

New Orleans wasn't the only place dealing with power outages this weekend. The Super Bowl weekend box office is historically one of the weaker weekends of the year and this year looks to continue that trend.

With all eyes turned to the Big Easy, Hollywood sighed a small breath of relief as it prepares for its own Super Bowl in a few short weeks. Of course, that doesn't mean that it was a completely incident free weekend.

Quite the contrary, there were plenty of things out there to keep the Mixer moving this fine Monday morning. So, sit back with your Bloody Marys and Beignets this fine morning and relive the weekend that was.

Box Office 411

If it's possible to both freeze and thaw at the box office, then there's probably no better film poised to demonstrate this effect than Warm Bodies opened up in the top slot with almost $20 million, which was at the top end of its studio's expectations to be sure.

Personally, I'm pretty happy about it because the film reminds me a bit of cult hit Zombieland and if it continues to do well, perhaps we'll finally see the long-awaited and more often delayed sequel some day.

How bad was the weekend overall?

Well, the total from the top 12 films came in at only $68.5 million, which was a huge 27% drop from last year's Super Bowl weekend.

Interestingly, Zombieland opened with $24.7 million and eventually topped $75 million, but that was helped by Halloween. Warm Bodies should still receive goo word of mouth, but with Summer films creeping more and more into the Winter months, it will struggle to end up over $50 million.

In other new openings, I think it's safe to say that the geriatric action set has seen better days. Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head only shot its way to $4.7 million and makes you think that next year's The Expendables 3 might be D.O.A.

Speaking of old men, Stand Up Guys didn't even crack the top 15, which means that the Al Pacino and Christopher Walken film didn't even muster up $1.5 million. That's a real shame.

About the only real winners this weekend (save for Warm Bodies) were the Oscar contenders. Silver Linings Playbook continues to prove that slow and steady will win the race with its third place mark of $8.1 million. It has now grossed over $80 million and should surpass the big $100 million before the first Oscar is handed out.

Zero Dark Thirty continued on its mission with $5.3 million in fifth place. With a total box office of $77.8 million, it's going to take a few unexpected (now) wins on Oscar Sunday to propel it past $100 million. Barring that, I'm thinking now that it will fizzle out around $90 million.

Django Unchained broke $150 million this week and it looks like Les Miserables will join it in the next week or two.

Oscars Affleck-pas

It's funny, but every awards show is usually just a little bit different than the others. Unless there's an overriding favorite like a Titanic or something, each show usually champions a different film or performance than the others.

In a normal year, these battles usually dovetail perfectly for the Granddaddy of them all, the Oscars. However, it's pretty rare for the Oscars to be so off the pulse of the awards season that they miss a surefire nomination.

Rare, but not impossible.

This year they whiffed at Ben Affleck in the directing category. I'm not sure if it's some sort of Affleck conspiracy that some are throwing about or if it's just a general reluctance by the Academy to recognize actors that also direct.

After getting snubbed by the Academy and not even getting a nomination for Best Director, Affleck won the Broadcast Film Critics Best Director Award and Golden Globe for Best Director while also getting nominated for a BAFTA in directing. Meanwhile, all Argo has done is win, taking home the Golden Globe for Best Film - Drama, AFI Film of the Year and Most Outstanding Cast at the SAG awards.

This past weekend, Ben Affleck added another piece of hardware to his shelf, top honors at the Directors Guild of America awards. So yeah, the top director this year, as voted upon by his peers, won't even have a chance to sniff the Best Director Oscar.

Of course, I'd feel more sorry for Affleck, but I think he's doing alright in life. Not only that, but it seems that the Academy's snub might actually be working into Argo's favor for the evening's top prize.

Considered a long shot for the Best Picture Oscar when the nominations were announced last month, the recent momentum and the snub have carried the film into the favorite's chair. To be honest, I'm pretty OK with that. I've seen Argo and it's definitely one of my favorites from last year, so I'd be happy if it won the top prize and Ben gets up on stage to thumb his nose at the Academy one last time.

Be Kind, Rewind

Finally today, I thought it would be good to go back to our roots. We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the pioneering spirit of a little format called VHS.

There's a documentary that is debuting at SXSW in March that looks very intriguing for film buffs like myself. Rewind This! is a look at the cultural and historical impact of VHS tape and looks to be quite the fun little film.

Not only is it a look back at our own past, but it looks like it will serve as a reminder that we need to start thinking about preservation moving forward. I love looking at those glorious images of those huge video stores with wall-to-wall movies and I can't help but think that we've basically chosen a machine that is lucky to carry 100 different films over them.

And they call it evolution? Take a trip down memory lane and watch the trailer below. Until next week, Mix Well!