Although Neil Burger started out with public service announcements on MTV, his latest narrative Limitless has beaten out science-fiction opponent Battle: Los Angeles in its opening weekend, accumulating two-thirds of its production budget already at $19 million. This is something of a surprise for a myriad of reasons. Most noticeable, is that Limitless was poorly marketed. It felt like unless you decided to look for it, you couldn’t find an ad for it. Which is, of course, the opposite of Battle: Los Angeles. Then you have a director whose latest film, The Lucky Ones, probably cost more than the $287,000 it made to actually film it. Sure, Burger’s The Illusionist made about $71 million in profit, but that was literally half a decade ago.

Now here’s the reasons Limitless beat everyone out anyways. First of all, you have Bradley Cooper as the star power, whose his wildly successful film The Hangover actually made $467,483,912—on a $35 million budget. You can swim in that kind of profit. Sure, The A-Team barely skimmed by and of course All About Steve served up plenty remarks towards Sandra Bullock during the awards ceremonies, but with The Hangover: Part II coming soon, people are being reminded why they like Bradley Cooper. Secondly, another good star to have in your movie is Robert DeNiro, who definitely has an audience of his own since he’s been considered one of the greatest actors of his time. His fame, no matter how many flops, never really seems to diminish beyond the repairable. Little Fockers may have been a critical failure, but it still generated just over $300 million with a budget a third that size. And last, Limitless managed to steal first from Battle: Los Angeles because of the latter’s own shortcomings. Horror director Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle: Los Angeles was so widely and effectively marketed that the hype was built up into expectations the film could not withstand. It happens all the time—audiences don’t like to be fooled, and feel cheated and of course let down when the film doesn’t uphold the image of its countless and relentless advertisements. So what happened was, fans of the genre went in search of another film of the sort to take a look at, and placed the rightly titled “limitless” film right at the top of the box office.  

Rango keeps its stronghold at second place, because the mass movement to stop watching Battle: Los Angeles didn’t stop the former, which was expected to remain at number one for a great deal longer than it did. Defeating rival Mars Needs Moms, which did poorly in every conceivable manner, Rango went on to lose to the heavier and far more effective marketing campaign of Battle: Los Angeles. However, now that the tactics have lost their zeal on audiences, Rango can roam free.

Director Brad Furman is currently celebrating that a film of his actually made the top box office, although The Lincoln Lawyer was kept at fourth by the high-stakes opponents it faced during opening weekend. And let’s all just face the fact that Matthew McConaughey doesn’t matter. His star power erupted from an interesting lack of talent, since he knew how to be the image of a Hollywood actor, generating praise from women all about. However, his followers will keep his films generating money, and in today’s studios, that’s what counts. That said—better luck next time Furman; you have yourself a $27 million deficit. Meanwhile, Paul received fairly good responses from audiences, particularly those who have enjoyed the duo from unanimously praised Shaun of the Dead, and although it has opened in fifth at the top box office, people will continue keeping a lookout for the film. Despite its incapability as a moneymaker, still $2 million short of breaking even, the B comedy tones should carry it on to mild success on DVD.

Although Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 opens this weekend, the reigning superior will be highly anticipated Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, the director who just can’t get enough graphic novels made into movies. It’ll take first, while Limitless drops a couple steps and grapples Rango for its footing at second. Battle: Los Angeles will then battle it out with Diary.

1   Limitless (2011) $19M $19M
2   Rango (2011) $15.3M $92.6M
3   Battle: Los Angeles (2011) $14.6M $60.6M
4   The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) $13.4M $13.4M
5   Paul (2011) $13.2M $13.2M
6   Red Riding Hood (2011) $7.25M $26M
7   The Adjustment Bureau (2011) $5.93M $48.8M
8   Mars Needs Moms (2011) $5.32M $15.4M
9   Beastly (2011) $3.26M $22.2M
10   Hall Pass (2011) $2.6M $39.6M