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your box office explained

Your Box Office Explained: The Roommate Gets a Win ... Just Barely

The Weekend's Winners: Super 8, Cowboys and Aliens, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hop, Rio — just about every other forthcoming movie whose ads reached the 100-plus million viewers who tuned in to watch Green Bay pack up the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. However, when you’re the actual No. 1 movie in theaters over the worst-attended Super Bowl weekend in fifteen years, do you still have cause to celebrate? Oh, what the hell, why not? Even if you’d have to go back to President Clinton’s second term in office to find fewer folks at the movies, Leighton Meester’s Single White Female ripoff, The Roommate, still managed to gross some $15.6 million for Sony — likely because Meester and her fans were in second grade when SWF first hit theaters.

The Weekend's Losers:
Sanctum, the James Cameron executive-produced (whatever that means) 3-D cave-diving movie: $9.2 million.

How It All Went Down: Part of us wants to get all Senator Lloyd Bentsen and lecture these young gals: “Leighton Meester, we knew Jennifer Jason Leigh …Jennifer Jason Leigh was a quirky star of ours …Leighton Meester, you're no Jennifer Jason Leigh." But they’d probably just get bored and wander off onto Foursquare or Chatroulette before we could even get around to explaining who Dan Quayle was. But that's to miss the point. This weekend has always been about counter-programming the Super Bowl, and if there is a photo-negative of beer and buffalo wings, surely it is Leighton Meester: Exit polling found that almost two-thirds of The Roommate’s crowds (if you can call them that) were female, and almost the same proportion (61 percent) were under the legal drinking age.

Elsewhere, despite a Herculean effort by its studio to convince audiences that James Cameron had done something more than just lend this film’s director a 3-D camera package, most folks declined to pay good money to have swim fins fluttering in their faces for 90 minutes, and so Sanctum suffered.

Meanwhile, hanging on surprisingly well were both the lowbrow and the highbrow releases of No Strings Attached (with $8.4 million, down only a little more than a third from last weekend, good for third place) and The King’s Speech, which lost a quarter of its audience from the previous weekend, but still managed $8.3 million (good for fourth).

As for the wall-to-wall carpeting of ads for upcoming films seen last night, the question remains as to whether America was wowed. Advertisers care about two things: reach and frequency. And, of course, you can't beat the Super Bowl for reach. (If you believe Ad Week, some 110 million people likely watched the Bowl.) But when so many movie ads — we counted eighteen of ‘em — blast into the American living room simultaneously, one shouldn’t wonder if fans’ reaction might have been, “Which one was yours again? The animal movie? Which animal movie? The one with the panda? The rabbit? A lizard? … Oh! The lizard!”

Photo: Sony Pictures