November 2, 2013



OPENINGS:  Stop me if you’ve heard this before:  an expensive action-adventure will need to overperform internationally in order to get past its red ink.  With Thor 2 opening in just a week, ENDER’S GAME (Summit/Lionsgate) had a very narrow window to make an impression, and its $9.9M Friday, probably meaning a weekend in the high $20Ms, is an unexciting start.  While certainly not a YA flop on the order of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS or BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, Ender’s carries a $110M production cost (i.e., $225M with worldwide marketing)–although Lionsgate is only on the hook for $22M of that, with production company Oddjob shouldering most of the rest–and may not get much past $75M in the US.

FREE BIRDS (Relativity) wasn’t able to make much of being the first kids’ movie to open in a month, with a $4M Friday and likely $15M weekend.  (Its $55M production cost is mostly carried by production company Reel FX.)  Aiming at the other audience extreme, LAST VEGAS (CBS) had a $5.1M first day and likely around the same $15M weekend.  Vegas will hope for long-lasting word-of-mouth among its slower-moving target demo.

Thinking of THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney), it began its overseas campaign on Wednesday, and is already at $45M in 36 territories, with $100M likely by Sunday.  That paces it well ahead of the first Thor‘s $268M total outside the US.

HOLDOVERS:  BAD GRANDPA (Paramount) continues to impress in the context of its genre and demo, down a relatively mild 52% from opening day last week to $6.1M, and with a weekend drop that should be less than 50%.  Its diehard critical supporters notwithstanding, THE COUNSELOR (20th) had zero favorable word-of-mouth and plummeted 67% from last Friday to $1M.  It won’t even reach $20M in the US, and will have to hope overseas audiences are far more intrigued.

Among longer holdovers, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony), down 33% to $2.4M, is still generating plenty of ticket sales, and has a shot of reaching $100M in the US if it can hold onto its theatres.  GRAVITY (Warners) lost its IMAX screens to Ender’s Game, but still held well, down 41% to $3.6M and a US total that will top $215M by Sunday (plus $$164M overseas).

LIMITED RELEASE:  12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) more than tripled its theatre count this weekend to 410, but only doubled its Friday total to $1.3M, with a per-theatre average for the weekend of perhaps $10K.  It is, once again, a solid but unspectacular result (double the $5K average Enough Said had in 437 theatres, but considerably below the $17K average for Precious at 629), and with all the hype 12 Years has already had, it’s open to question whether the giant truck full of awards coming its way next month will boost its box office standing significantly.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal) is off to an OK start, with perhaps a $25K per-theatre average at 9.  That’s a lot better than DIANA (EOne), a clunker that might not even have a $2K average at 38.

ABOUT TIME (Universal) tried to generate enthusiasm for next weekend’s wide release with a platform run at 175 theatres, but will probably have a very soft $6K average.  Keanu Reeves’s MAN OF TAI CHI (Weinstein), also available on VOD, had a horrible start with a per-theatre average for the weekend that might not get to $500.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Thor, of course, will dominate every multiplex in sight, while About Time will also go wide.  The notable limited release is THE BOOK THIEF (20th), which will be trying to shoehorn its way into the awards conversation.

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."