October 26, 2013



OPENINGS:  BAD GRANDPA (Paramount) cost only $15M to produce, and although that’s somewhat misleading (when worldwide marketing is added, the total cost becomes more like $75M+), it’s still headed for easy success with a $12.6M opening day that should mean a $26-28M weekend and $60M in the US when it’s done.  Paramount’s decision to bypass the late-October horror market by postponing the next Paranormal Activity to 2014 has worked out very well, as Grandpa will outgross the season’s only horror movie Carrie by a wide margin.

THE COUNSELOR (20th) was a prestige item that needed studio and critical support, and it had neither–understandably so, although outliers like Manohla Dargis would ferociously disagree.  20th claims the swank thriller cost only $25M to produce because the cast worked for peanuts to sign on with Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy (i.e., the Woody Allen model), although that in itself wouldn’t pay for the film’s production values.  Even if the reported budget is true, Counselor‘s weak $3.2M start means a weekend that may be under $9M, and perhaps a $25M US total, which won’t begin to pay for its marketing, let alone its production costs.  Perhaps the script’s existential pretentiousness will play better overseas; Ridley Scott has already moved on to the epic Exodus, which most assuredly will not cost $25M to produce.

HOLDOVERS:  GRAVITY (Warners) has lost its 1st-place ranking for the weekend, but it’s still holding beautifully, down just 32% from last Friday to $6.2M.  It should top $200M in the US by Sunday, and now seems certain to pass $250M.  Worldwide, it’s a hair away from $300M, with quite a few lucrative territories still to open.  CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) is also holding up very well, down just 29% from last Friday to $3.6M, and with the chance to exceed $90M in the US by the end of its run.  CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Sony) is enjoying its last weekend as the only kids’ movie in town, down 36% Friday-to-Friday to $1.6M, and it should hit $100M by Sunday.

Last weekend’s openings both collapsed, down 70% each from their opening days:  CARRIE (Screen Gems/Sony/MGM) to $2M, and THE FIFTH ESTATE (DreamWorks/Disney) to a horrible $175K (a $99 per-theatre average).

ENOUGH SAID (Fox Searchlight) is continuing its strategy of masking weekly per-theatre drops by adding more theatres each week.  This week it added about 10% more theatres to 835, but still fell 11% from last Friday, with a weekend average that will probably be around $1800.  Unless Searchlight can find an inexhaustible supply of theatres willing to take on its diminishing returns, the film, which will probably be at $13M by Sunday, seems unlikely to reach $20M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 123 theatres, and it’s headed for a per-theatre weekend average of around $16K.  That’s a solid number, but not an exceptional one.  Precious, which followed the same release strategy of mixing arthouses with inner-city multiplexes, had a $34K average when it was in 174 theatres; on the pure arthouse side, Blue Jasmine had a $19K average at 119, while The Way, Way Back averaged $14K at 79.  Enough Said had a $9K average at almost double the number of theatres.  12 Years has yet to prove that it’s more than a critical darling; it will need to ride out more than a month before critics’ awards (which at the moment look to go overwhelmingly in its favor) and Top 10 lists kick in to boost the film’s momentum, and the question is whether it will still be a meaningful box office presence at that point. Searchlight plans to expand more widely next weekend.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (IFC) is headed for a $10K average at 13 theatres, not bad for a 3-hour subtitled NC-17 film.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The transition weekend before the holiday movie season officially arrives.  ENDER’S GAME (Summit/Lionsgate), which was intended to be the next big YA franchise, seems to be lacking in buzz, but still has a week to get rolling.  FREE BIRDS (Relativity) will go after the young audience, while LAST VEGAS (CBS) chases their grandparents.  ABOUT TIME (Universal) will open with the semi-platform strategy that worked for Universal with Pitch Perfect last year, starting at 175 theatres before going wide the next week.  The major arrival in limited release is DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal), an Oscar hopeful for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto if not more.




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."