October 5, 2013



OPENINGS:  With a $17.5M Friday that should get it close to $50M for the weekend, GRAVITY (Warners) is the first of the year’s Oscar hopefuls to get both rapturous reviews (98% on Rotten Tomatoes) and strong audience support.  That doesn’t guarantee awards in February–the Academy often resists science-fiction and fantasy when it’s time to cast the final votes–but it puts Alfonso Cuaron’s adventure very much in the running.  Also worth noting is that while 3D has been trending strongly downward over the past year or two in the US, Gravity is doing most of its business in 3D, thanks to buzz assuring ticketbuyers that this is one time the extra price is worth it.

RUNNER RUNNER is already a dead hand with a $2.8M opening day that may not get it to $8M for the weekend, and despite a moderate $30M production cost, it has little chance of breaking even once worldwide marketing costs are factored in.  It should serve to remind Warners, as they hand Ben Affleck the bat-suit, that for all the deserved praise Affleck has gotten as a director in recent years, he’s never recovered his mojo as a movie star.  (A mojo that Justin Timberlake has never had, despite creditable performances in several films–although not in this one.)

HOLDOVERS:  CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Sony) fell 49% from its opening Friday to $4.7M, compared to the 31% drop for the original Cloudy on its second Friday.  So even though Cloudy 2 is $2.7M ahead of the first movie after 8 days, it’s unlikely that the sequel will match Cloudy‘s $125M US total.  Both DON JON (Relativity) and BAGGAGE CLAIM (Fox Searchlight) took heavier drops, down respectively 57% to $1.4M and 62% to $1.2M.  The shocker is that RUSH (Universal), with the kind of strong reviews and older-skewing storyline that should have meant a long run, had no legs at all, down 62% from last Friday to $1.4M.  It’s unlikely to even reach $30M in the US, which won’t pay for its domestic marketing costs, and that’s going to hurt it in the awards race.  PRISONERS (Warners) will do better, with $44M earned already and perhaps a final total of $60M, but that’s still an unexciting number with many heavy hitters yet to open.

LIMITED RELEASE:  ENOUGH SAID (Fox Searchlight) had an OK expansion to 437 theatres, with what should be a $4K per-theatre average for the weekend.  That’s about the same average The Way, Way Back had when it went to 886 theatres, suggesting Enough is going to have a tough time getting near Way Back‘s $20M level.  The Christian drama GRACE UNPLUGGED (Roadside) was slow with a probable $2500 average at 511.  In much smaller release, the Sundance comedy A.C.O.D. (Film Arcade) might have a $4K average at 8.

NEXT WEEKEND:  CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) is trying the unusual move of “sneak” previewing in 800 theatres nationwide tonight, a strategy that usually means soft tracking.  The Tom Hanks real-life thriller is another awards contender, and it may well open below the 2d weekend of Gravity next week.  Definitely not an awards contender is MACHETE KILLS (Open Road).

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."