January 11, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 1/10/14


OPENINGS:  The only question for LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) to ponder as all concerned count their entirely unexpected riches this weekend (a $14.4M Friday and a weekend that could hit $40M) is whether they miscalculated by waiting to go wide until after polls were closed for the Oscar nominations.  Survivor is very much on the bubble with respect to a Best Picture nomination, and this kind of huge public support could have pushed it over the edge with some Academy voters–or at least gotten them to watch their screeners in the last few days before voting.  The money is great, but they may have left some prestige on the table.

Survivor was just one of the holiday awards hopefuls to go wide for pre-nomination weekend.  AUGUST : OSAGE COUNTY (Weinstein) had a promising start as it moved to 905 theatres with $2.2M on Friday for what should be a $7M weekend, around a $7500 per-theatre average (still only half of what Lone Survivor will average in 2875 theatres).  HER (Warners) is looking a lot softer in 1729 theatres, with 1.8M on Friday and perhaps $6M for the weekend, a $3500 average.

In a quasi-wide run of 729 theatres, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (CBS) is finding the sledding tough, heading for perhaps a $2M weekend after $550K on Friday, a $2500 average.  NEBRASKA (Paramount) almost doubled its theatres to 521, and pulled in under $250K on Friday for a weekend that won’t get beyond $1M, perhaps a $2K average.  All of these films will hope for a boost from Thursday’s nomination announcements.

The weekend’s only true newcomer, THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Summit/Lionsgate) apparently cost about $70M to produce (the studio claims less and certainly the production values are hardly high-end), so even with a relatively low-key marketing campaign, it’s going to be deeply in the red from its US run, with a $3.1M Friday that likely means an $8M weekend at most.

HOLDOVERS:  With the holidays done, FROZEN (Disney) took its first real box office hit, down 54% from last Friday to $3.1M, which should give it a $12-15M weekend.  Even slowed down, though, Frozen will be the #2 movie of the weekend as it tops $315M in the US and $650M worldwide, already one of the Top 15 animated movies in history.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Paramount) and AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony) are in lockstep, with $2.7/2.6M Fridays and likely $8-9M weekends.  Hustle, though, has the advantage because it’s earning that much after an extra week in the market, and it should cross $100M this weekend, more than $20M ahead of Wolf.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (Warners/MGM), SAVING MR. BANKS (Disney) and ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (Paramount) all had $1.8-2M Fridays and are heading for $6-7M weekends.  That’s by far the better result for Banks, down just 34% from last Friday, while Hobbit and Anchorman were down 60% and 52%.  Meanwhile, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (20th), GRUDGE MATCH (Warners) and 47 RONIN (Universal) are nearing the end of their runs after $1.3M/575K/460K Fridays, and only Mitty will even cross $50M in the US.

PHILOMENA (Weinstein), another Oscar hopeful, isn’t doing huge numbers ($400K in 607 theatres on Friday for a likely $1.5M weekend and $2500 average), but its word-of-mouth is working overtime, as it slipped a barely perceptible 1% from last Friday.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (Paramount) did what low-budget horror movies do on their 2d Fridays, plunging 76% to $2.1M.  That’ll stabilize a bit over the course of the weekend, but it’ll still drop close to 70%, and may not reach $40M in total US box office, the lowest of the Paranormal franchise.

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) had already hit both of its milestones late last week, topping not just the first Hunger Games but moving past Iron Man 3 to claim the crown as 2013’s biggest US hit (and doing it in 2D, unlike Iron Man, which means it sold substantially more tickets).  It’s not done yet, with a $1.2M Friday and what should be a $4M weekend, and could reach $420M in the US.

LIMITED RELEASE:  There were no significant openings this weekend, and we won’t have numbers for the small expansions of THE PAST and THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (both Sony Pictures Classics releases) until tomorrow.

NEXT WEEKEND:  With the Martin Luther King holiday weekend on tap, Hollywood shows its first signs of post-holiday life, opening JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (Paramount), the Kevin Hart/Ice Cube vehicle RIDE ALONG (Universal), horror movie DEVIL’S DUE (20th) and the animated THE NUT JOB (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."