Given the Super Bowl and the icy weather, pundits didn't expect much from this weekend's box office, and 'The Roommate' mustered just enough mojo to meet those low expectations.
'The Roommate' may be a watered-down, PG-13 version of 'Single White Female,' but it was potent enough to debut at No. 1 with an estimated $15.6 million, about what experts predicted. Credit the TV fame of stars Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly, the youth-friendly rating, and a strong appeal to female moviegoers who weren't planning to watch football on Sunday. The suspense thriller's budget was reported to be just $16 million, only a hair above this weekend's estimated gross.
The weekend's other new wide release, the underwater action thriller 'Sanctum,' had been predicted to open around $12 million, but its studio estimate came in at $9.2 million, for a second-place opening. The movie boasted James Cameron as a producer and state-of-the-art 3-D effects (with their attendant ticket surcharges), and it opened in more theaters than 'The Roommate.' But the R rating kept out younger viewers, and the movie wasn't helped by its lack of star power or its male appeal on Super Bowl weekend. It'll be a stretch for the film to make back its reported $30 million budget in theaters.
Another movie with strong female appeal, the romantic comedy 'No Strings Attached,' came in at No. 3 with an estimated $8.4 million. That's down just 37 percent from last week. It was also enough to move the film's three-week total past the $50 million mark.
Coming in fourth was 'The King's Speech,' which continued to expand into more theaters on the second weekend after the announcement of its 12 Oscar nominations. The feel-good historical buddy movie earned an estimated $8.3 million, down just 25 percent from last week, as Oscar buzz continues to build for the Best Picture frontrunner.
At No. 5 was 'The Green Hornet,' down 46 percent to an estimated $6.1 million. In four weeks, the masked-hero film has earned $87.2 million.
Last week's two new wide releases, 'The Rite' (which debuted on top a week ago) and 'The Mechanic' (which premiered iat No. 3) fell to sixth and seventh places this weekend. Rounding out the top 10 were two other strong Oscar contenders, 'True Grit' (No. 8) and 'Black Swan' (No. 10), as well as bromance 'The Dilemma' (No. 9).
The full top 10:
1. 'The Roommate,' $15.6 million (2,534 screens), new release
2. 'Sanctum,' $9.2 million (2,787), new release
3. 'No Strings Attached,' $8.4 million (3,050), $51.8 million total
4. 'The King's Speech,' $8.3 million (2,584), $84.1 million
5. 'The Green Hornet,' $6.1 million (3,033), $87.2 million
6. 'The Rite,' $5.6 million (2,985), $23.7 million
7. 'The Mechanic,' $5.4 million (2,704), $20.1 million
8. 'True Grit,' $4.8 million (2,902), $155.0 million
9. 'The Dilemma,' $3.45 million (2,545), $45.7 million
10. 'Black Swan,' $3.40 million (1,977), $95.9 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.