SUNDAY AM 2ND UPDATEThe big news is that washed-up Arnold Schwarzenegger flopped in 10th place playing a washed-up lawman in The Last Stand (2,913 theaters). “Nobody wants to see Arnold,” one rival studio exec giggled to me. Lionsgate should demand its money back from Arnie who clearly can’t open a movie anymore even with a ‘B’ CinemaScore from audiences. Pic made only a pathetic $6.7M for the 3-day weekend and no more than $7.7M for the 4-day holiday. I don’t think that even covers Schwarzenegger’s cigar bill.  The actioner featuring The Guvernator’s first solo comeback to the big screen was just one of the major releases that opened for the long Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Saturday’s business “was shockingly good,” execs told me, once again demonstrating that the theatrical business is kicking butt with audiences even if Arnold isn’t. Bombing as well was Emmet-Furla/New Regency’s critically panned dramatic thriller Broken City (2,620 theaters) breaking Mark Wahlberg’s long string of box office hits. Also starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe (thankfully, not singing) and distributed by Fox, it debuted only #5 and finished with a sorry $9.5M for the 3-day weekend and $10.9M for the four day holiday. That star power should have generated at least $25M for the MLK weekend with its ‘B’ CinemaScore from audiences.

No question that Universal’s supernatural thriller Mama (2,647 theaters) - “presented” by Guillermo Del Toro to lend it credibility – debuted #1 Friday and stayed tops through Monday with an overperforming $28.1 for the 3-day weekend and $33.2M for the 4-day holiday. ”This is an incredible result for a little film. We think it was the advertising on Twilight [Breaking Dawn Part 2] and the really scary trailer targeted to girls,” a Uni exec preens. It succeeded despite an unimpressive ‘B-’ CinemaScore from audiences. I can’t recalll when an actress was in Hollywood’s top two films, but Jessica Chastain snags that honor after last weekend’s topper, her Annapurna Pictures/Sony Pictures’ Zero Dark Thirty (2,946 theaters after 5 weeks) came in #2. The chameleon looks almost unrecognizable as a brunette in the new comer.

I’m surprised that Universal Pictures didn’t take the time with me to publicize more fully Del Toro’s role in this $15 million budgeted hit film, trying to dismiss him as “only as an executive producer”. In fact Guillermo took the original short film by Andy Muschetti and, from the moment of inception, developed it hand-in-hand. Del Toro even did informal passes on the screenplay. He chose Neil Cross as the co-writer for the project (they had worked together on Mountains Of Madness), then took the film to Universal where he
actively campaigned for a greenlight and cast Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain (working with her
agents and manager himself). He even located the production offices in Pinewood Studios where he was prepping and would shoot Pacific Rim so he could be available and ready to assist Barbara and Andy Muschetti. I’m told that Del Toro would revise Andy’s storyboards every day before call, go through dailies, and work in the editing room. He chose the composer Fernando Velazquez to score because they had worked together twice already (on Orphanage and Julia’s Eyes). ”Guillermo was present at all crucial stages of pre- and post- production, including color timing and final mix,” a rep tells me. “He worked closely with Universal on the movie’s campaign and launch – to the point that ‘A Mother’s Love Is Forever’ was his suggested tagline at the very first meeting he spent pitching the feature for Universal.”

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