‘Argo’ leads as ‘Cloud Atlas’ stalls

Atlas returned to theaters, and again moviegoers shrugged.

“Cloud Atlas,” the $100 million Tom Hanks sci-fi opus, managed just a disappointing third place this weekend at theaters, leaving an opening for the political-thriller “Argo” to claim its first box-office crown.

“Argo,” directed by and starring Ben Affleck, led a crowded slate this weekend, taking in $12.4 million, according to studio estimates from box-office trackers Hollywood.com.

The $44 million film has done $60.8 million, and the box-office win – in its third weekend of release – solidifies its standing as the early leader in the Oscar race for best-picture nominations, which will be announced Jan. 10.

“The outstanding reviews and word-of-mouth continue to give it some of the best legs of the fall, and only improves its Oscar odds,” says Tim Briody, analyst for Boxofficeprophets.com.

“Atlas’” odds, meanwhile, plummeted. The latest film from Andy and Lana Wachowski (the team behind “The Matrix”) was expected to pull in at least $13 million, but managed only $9.4 million and third place.

Despite solid reviews – 62 percent of critics liked it, along with 78 percent of audiences on Rottentomatoes.com – the near three-hour adaptation of David Mitchell’s 2004 novel couldn’t do much damage. Two weeks earlier, the drama “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” opened to an abysmal $1.8 million and is destined for a quick home video release.

Briody says “Cloud Atlas,” which co-stars Halle Berry, “might have been too high-concept for mainstream audiences and is also the type of film that really needs outstanding reviews to push it over the top. The middling reviews were more likely to have anyone on the fence about seeing it stay away.”

The video-game adaptation “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” didn’t exactly get audiences swarming, either. The R-rated horror film, which was expected to do about $12 million, managed just $8 million, good for fifth place.

The film may disappear soon, if reviews and word of mouth are any indication. Just 7 percent of reviewers gave it a thumbs up, compared with a lackluster 52 percent of audiences, Rottentomatoes.com said.

The Nickelodeon Movies production “Fun Size” didn’t have a very good time at theaters, earning a paltry $4.1 million and 10th place.

Adam Sandler’s cartoon “Hotel Transylvania” was second with $9.5 million, while found-footage horror film “Paranormal Activity 4” was fourth with $8.7 million.

The only other major release of the weekend, the surfing film “Chasing Mavericks,” was caught in the undertow. It did a not-so-tubular $2.2 million, landing in 12th place.

The box office lost some momentum on a slow weekend, though revenues remain 4 percent ahead of last year’s pace, said Hollywood.com.

© 2012 USA TODAY. All rights reserved.

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