October 12, 2013



OPENINGS:  When CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) chose this weekend to open, it must have seemed like the perfect spot for a #1 ranking, with no direct competition and the previous week’s new title a sci-fi movie that might start big but would drop heavily in its second weekend.  Then Gravity happened, and suddenly Captain Phillips is an afterthought.  Nevertheless–and impressively, considering that Gravity has an older skew than most sci-fi due to its stars–Captain opened very strongly, with $8.5M on Friday and a likely $25M weekend.  That would put it ahead of recent adult thrillers like Prisoners ($20.8M), The Town ($23.8M) and Argo ($19.5M), and right behind The Departed ($26.9M).  Word of mouth should be strong, so the film should be able to run into the thick of awards season.

The best that can be said for the pathetic opening of MACHETE KILLS (Open Road), with a $1.4M Friday and likely $3.5M weekend, is that Robert Rodriguez makes his dopey faux-grindhouse movies for comparative pennies, and there was a limited marketing spend, so no one should lose their shirts.

HOLDOVERS:  GRAVITY (Warners) is now moving past being a mere smash hit to a genuine phenomenon.  Its $12.7M Friday was down just 27% from its opening, something that rarely happens where the second weekend doesn’t include a holiday boost, especially in this genre.  Argo went down a tiny 16% in its second weekend, and although Gravity may be slightly above that (a 20% or so drop is likely), it’s now set to barrel through the rest of October, until Ender’s Game and the Thor sequel start taking over IMAX and 3D screens next month.  Gravity should have around  $120M in the US by Sunday, and now looks sure to exceed $200M and be a serious awards contender.

Last week’s other opening, RUNNER RUNNER (20th) dropped 59% to $1.2M on Friday and won’t get much past $20M in the US.

Among longer runs, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Sony) is benefiting from the lack of anything else for kids in the market, and slipped just 24% from last Friday to $3.6M.  With $67.4M earned so far, it’s still unlikely to get near the original Cloudy‘s $124.9M US total, although it does have two more wide-open weekends before Free Birds arrives on Nov. 1.  PRISONERS (Warners), down 39% Friday-to-Friday to $1.1M, and INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (FilmDistrict), down 32% to $800K, are also holding well.

LIMITED RELEASE:  ROMEO & JULIET (Relativity) was financed, both production and marketing, by its producers, notably a division of Swarovski Crystal (or “Sharkie” Crystals, as SNL would say), with Relativity receiving a fee for distribution services.  So if crystal prices go up, blame the movie’s awful likely $1500 per-theatre average at 461 theatres this weekend.  THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT OF MISTER AND PETE (Lionsgate) is at about the same level at 147 theatres.  ENOUGH SAID (Fox Searchlight) continued its expansion, now at 606 theatres, but its weekend total will hold even at best, with an OK $3500 average.  The hype for the secret Disneyland shooting of ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (PDA) didn’t pay off at the box office, with a likely $2500 average at 30 theatres.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The big pre-Halloween opening is the remake of CARRIE (Screen Gems/Sony), with the Stallone/Schwarzenegger ESCAPE PLAN (Lionsgate) pursuing the older action audience.  The interesting arrivals, though, will be a trio aiming at awards recognition:  WikiLeaks story THE FIFTH ESTATE (DreamWorks/Disney), ALL IS LOST (Roadside) with its lauded solo performance by Robert Redford, and especially 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight), which is preceded by weeks of film festival critical hosannas, as well as the Audience Award at Toronto, but an uncompromising film that general audiences may find tough to watch.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."