January 18, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 1/17/14


OPENINGS:  Kevin Hart has been hanging around the edges of being a movie star for a few years now, and RIDE ALONG (Universal) makes it official.  With a $14.5M Friday start, it could challenge Cloverfield for the Martin Luther King weekend title, currently at $46.1M.  For Universal, this is the start of a nicely low-priced new franchise; the other happy studio is Sony, which has Hart in its About Last Night remake opening in less than a month for Valentines Day weekend.

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (Paramount) held 2d place among new openings on Friday with $5.4M, but it will probably slide into 3rd by Monday with around $19M, since it’s just ahead of The Nut Job, which should do heavy matinee business.  The supposed franchise-starter may not end up losing money if it can overperform internationally, as action movies often do (it cost a relatively modest $60M, making total costs with marketing included around $150-175M), but the studio was unable to interest a new generation of moviegoers in Tom Clancy’s Cold War-era hero, a favorite of Ronald Reagan’s.  Chris Pine becomes just the latest contemporary actor to prove himself a star only in his franchise uniform, in this case the one of Captain James T. Kirk.

THE NUT JOB (Open Road) didn’t embarrass itself with a $4.8M Friday and likely $20M 4-day weekend, considering its relatively low production and marketing costs.  There was no way for Open Road to anticipate that an opening 2 months after Frozen‘s launch would still be in that blockbuster’s shadow.

The clock seems to be running out on the “found-footage” cheapie horror movie subgenre, with DEVIL’S DUE (20th) on the heels of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.  Devil’s only managed $3.5M on Friday and may not be much over $10M by Monday.  As always, these pictures are so inexpensive that it’s hard for them to lose money (although their marketing costs are far higher than their production budgets), so they’re probably not going away anytime soon, but studio hopes for breakout hits have to be dwindling.

HOLDOVERS:  Considering its hot start, strong reviews and presumed enthusiastic word-of-mouth, LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) is having an unimpressive 2d weekend, down 54% from last Friday to $6.7M.  It will still be the holiday weekend’s #2 attraction, and should make its way to $100M before it’s done.  That’s certainly far better than last week’s other opener THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Lionsgate), which plunged 72% from its opening day to $900K and is essentially done.

Of all the newly-announced Oscar nominees, the one that benefited most from the honor was AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony), up 11% from last Friday to $2.9M.  It should go over $115M by the end of the long weekend, and seems likely to become director David O. Russell’s biggest hit, topping Silver Linings Playbook and its $132.1M.  THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Paramount), in comparison, fell 26% from last Friday to $2M despite its own nominations.  The very expensive comedy/drama should reach $100M by the time of the Oscar ceremonies.

FROZEN (Disney), another Oscar nominee, doesn’t really need prizes to stay aloft, as it continued to barely dip weekend to weekend.  It was down just 18% from last Friday to $2.5M, still on its way to $350M in the US, not all that far from Despicable Me 2‘s $368.1M.

Other Oscar nominees didn’t fare as impressively.  AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (Weinstein) more than doubled its theatre count to 2051, so although its Friday $2.1M was 5% higher than last Friday, its per-theatre average was down almost 60%, and unless it gets surprise wins at tonight’s SAG awards, it’s likely to run out of steam quickly.  HER (Warners) dropped 37% from last Friday to $1.2M.  GRAVITY (Warners) went back into wide release at 944 theatres but only managed $460K on Friday; 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) jumped up to 761 theatres for just $390K on Friday; CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) overestimated the appeal of its nominations and earned just $135K at 903 theatres.  PHILOMENA (Weinstein) and NEBRASKA (Paramount) bucked the trend by shaving about 100 theatres off their runs, and both held well, with Philomena down just 12% from last Friday to $350K and Nebraska rising 4% to $245K.  SAVING MR. BANKS (Disney) and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (CBS), which both failed to get their hoped-for nominations, are on their way out, respectively down 44% (to $1.1M) and 52% (to $270k) from last Friday.

LIMITED RELEASE:  With all art film eyes on Sundance (where Showbuzzdaily will be as well, beginning on Wednesday), there were no notable openings this weekend.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Junky January continues with the arrival of I, FRANKENSTEIN (Lionsgate), and a more limited release for GIMME SHELTER (Roadside), with Vanessa Hudgens as a homeless girl.


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."