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‘Warm Bodies’ heats up theaters

Movie stands up to Super Bowl threat

This film image released by Summit Entertainment shows Nicholas Hoult in a scene from "Warm Bodies." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment, Jonathan Wenk)

This film image released by Summit Entertainment shows Nicholas Hoult in a scene from "Warm Bodies." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment, Jonathan Wenk)

The love-struck zombies of Warm Bodies swarmed the box office on Super Bowl weekend with a $20 million opening.

On a weekend that Hollywood largely punts to football, the PG-13 film from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment easily led the box office, according to studio estimates yesterday.

The Super Bowl always means a significant slide in movie-going on Sunday – studios predict a decrease of as much as 70 percent from Saturday to Sunday – but Warm Bodies still lured many teenage fans.

The film is about a zombie whose love for a human redeems him.

Lionsgate, which also released the Twilight saga, is calling it a “rom-zom-com” for its mix of humor, romance and the supernatural. The film appealed particularly to females, who made up 60 percent of the audience.

“They’ve definitely cracked the code on how to attract that teen audience with films like The Hunger Games, Twilight and something like Warm Bodies, which definitely plays right into the sweet spot of that demographic,” says Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

David Spitz, executive vice president of Lionsgate, said the studio courted female teens with Warm Bodies by pairing its trailer with the last Twilight film, Breaking Dawn, Part II.

Younger female audiences have some history of turning out on Super Bowl weekends. The most successful film released the weekend of the big game was in 2008, when Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert opened with $31.1 million.

“There was just nothing in the marketplace like this,” Spitz said. “Is it more zombie horror? Is it more romantic comedy? Is it more comedy? It’s a mixture and that’s the reason why the film found an audience.”

Action films continued to fare poorly in 2013, as Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head opened with just $4.5 million for Warner Bros.

That meant his brawny cohort Arnold Schwarzenegger bested him when his The Last Stand opened with $7.2 million in January.

But both openings were poor. Along with the weak performance of Jason Statham’s Parker, which has taken in $12.4 million in two weeks for FilmDistrict, moviegoers aren’t turning out for traditional R-rated action movies.

That trend should reverse itself when Bruce Willis’s
A Good Day to Die Hard opens Feb. 14, Dergarabedian said.

Last week’s top film, Paramount’s Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, dropped to second with $9.2 million on the weekend.

The other debut of note was Lionsgate’s Stand Up Guys, which stars Al Pacino and Christopher Walken as veteran gangsters on a last hurrah romp.

Though it opened in limited release in 659 theaters, it took in just $1.5 million.

The most Super Bowl-appropriate film in theaters, the Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, continued to add to its stretched-out run for the Weinstein Co.

The film, which centers on a family of diehard Philadelphia Eagles fans, came in third place, adding $8.1 million for a cumulative total of $80.4 million.

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