Ignoring critics who called the film witless, ridiculous and boring, about 10 million fans in North America gave a marvellous welcome to Daredevil which grossed an estimated $43 million in four evenings, including previews on Thursday night.
Based on the exploits of a Marvel Comics hero, the film has Ben Affleck playing a blind attorney with superhuman sensory gifts that allow him to become a vigilante by night. The film costars Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell.
While a handful of reviewers, including Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert, gave the film decent reviews, most major reviewers thought it was a colossal waste of talent. Entertainment Weekly declared the movie 'makes you rue the day that comicbook franchises ever took over Hollywood.'
There were several other winners -- the low-budget Disney animated film The Jungle Book 2 with $11 million. Every major Oscar-nominated movie got a significant boost from the nominations announced February 11.
The nine-nominee earner The Hours, an enigmatic and emotional movie dealing with life, death and the meaning of life in three women in three eras, added about 480 theatres, taking the total count to 1,033. The complex film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name fetched the Best Actress Award for Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep at the recently concluded Berlin Film Festival. Its gross rose from $2.1 million to $3.3 million, taking its total to $26 million.
Without the Oscar nominations and the Golden Globe recognition as Best Dramatic film of the year, The Hours was looking at a $20 million final gross. Now, even without a single Oscar win, it might gross $35 million. With a handful of big Oscar wins in the Best Actress and Film categories, it may earn a fine $50 million -- a very good gross for a film that cost about $30 million.
The leader of the nominees, Chicago with 13 nods, added some 400 screens, taking its total to 2,268 and danced to a terrific $12.6 million, pushing its two-month total to $80.7 million. Its gross shot from $10.7 million the previous week to $12.6 million.
The musical, which will battle for the Oscar with The Hours, may earn $100 million by the first week of March, many days before the awards. If it wins significant Oscars, it may seize $130 million to $140 million.
Not all Oscar nominees added more theatres though they gained from the nomination. The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, approaching the end of its run with about $320 million, grossed $3.5 million over the weekend. The blockbuster fantasy, which has been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, earned $325.3 million. It is now expected to end its American run with $340 million, $20 million of which can be attributed to the nominations.
The wise, dark comedy about growing old and coming to terms with life's difficult situations About Schmidt was not nominated for Best Picture, but its lead actor nomination for Jack Nicholson and supporting actress nod for Kathy Bates helped it considerably. It took $3.55 million, 18 per cent up from the last weekend, though its theatre count fell to 1,208. With a $53 million gross and thousands discovering it anew, the film will not retire for at least six weeks. If it wins an Oscar for Nicholson, as widely expected, it may end up grossing $80 million.
Last weekend's top film, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, continued its box-office romance, taking $19 million over the weekend, winning $ 47.7 in ten days. It declined about 20 per cent from the previous weekend. If there is no dramatic attrition, it could reach $100 million, giving Kate Hudson the first hit of her six-year career as well as her first $100 million film.
Continuing its winning streak, Shanghai Knights won about $11.4 million to gross a healthy $34 million. Al Pacino's The Recruit listed an additional $6.8 million, taking its total to $38.8 million. Farrell, who plays the young and restless CIA recruit, is now in two films that are among the top 10 of the week.