November 16, 2013



OPENINGS:  THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (Universal) took advantage of being the only new movie in the market and nosed ahead of Thor on Friday, $10.7M to $10.5M.  That lead won’t hold for the rest of the weekend, but it’s still a great result for Best Man, which should end up with a weekend total around $27-28M.  If it operates like a Tyler Perry movie, the final result should be around $60M–with the chance of additional upside if Universal can keep it in theatres deeper into the holiday season.  Carrying only a $17M production budget and moderate marketing costs, it may be a lot less than 14 years before the next chapter in the Best Man series appears.

HOLDOVERS:  THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney) fell 67% from its opening day to $10.5M, which is par for its superhero course, a little steeper than the drop for the original Thor (64%), but better than the 71% drop for Iron Man 3.  Its weekend should be $35-38M, putting it on track for $210M or so in the US (and much more overseas)–unless Katniss Everdeen knocks it off-stride next week.

The other strong holdovers continued to sell tickets.  CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) had a tiny Friday-to-Friday drop of 19% to $1.3M as it approaches a $100M total, LAST VEGAS (CBS) held almost as well with a 22% slip to $2.5M, GRAVITY (Warners) fell just 26% to $1.7M, and BAD GRANDPA (Paramount), FREE BIRDS (Relativity) and ABOUT TIME (Universal) all dropped a slim 29-32%.

The 28% Friday-to-Friday drop for 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) is worse than it looks, because the film increased its theatre count by 23% to a fairly wide 1411.  The per-theatre average fell 43%, and even with the bump in venues, the weekend total will be down close to 30%.  The question that will float over 12 Years for the next several weeks, and maybe through Oscar season and beyond, is whether Searchlight opened it too soon and allowed it to peak too early, especially as an assortment of other high-quality movies start to arrive and take over the media focus.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The only major opening of the weekend was NEBRASKA (Paramount), which should have a solid $35K per-theatre start at 4 NY/LA theatres.  Paramount’s challenge will be to keep the low-key, black-and-white film in the Academy’s eye with what’s likely to be a moderate box office return.  (Despite its austere look, though, Alexander Payne’s movie is actually something of a crowd-pleaser, so it has the potential to surprise.)

The other news came from expansions.  DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal) moved into 184 theatres quite well, with what should be a $10K average.  That’s not the kind of business 12 Years has been doing (it had a $17K average at 123), but still strong.  THE BOOK THIEF (20th) widened to 29 theatres with a decent $12.5K average for the weekend.  ALL IS LOST (Lionsgate/Roadside) is up to a near-wide 483 theatres, but with an average that may not top $2K.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The only question about THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) is how big it will be.  The first Hunger Games debuted with a $152.5M weekend, the 6th highest ever, and while Catching Fire won’t come close to Avengers‘ $207M record, it should get closer.  Also, Lionsgate will look for Catching Fire to make a big leap overseas, where Hunger Games only made 41% of its worldwide total, low for a blockbuster.  The very first numbers give Catching Fire a Brazilian opening day 3x the start for Hunger Games, and while that’s a tiny number and easily dismissed, it does suggest that the international interest is a lot stronger this time around.  Meanwhile, in a move of either inspiration or idiocy, DELIVERY MAN (DreamWorks/Disney), featuring Vince Vaughn fresh off of two high-profile flops, will try to counterprogram the weekend.  In limited release, the festival title PHILOMENA (Weinstein), mostly a Best Actress play for Judi Dench, begins its run.

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."