November 9, 2013



OPENINGS:  The $31.6M first day for THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney) was about 24% higher than the $25.5M opening for the first Thor, an increment likely to reduce as the movie’s run continues, since sequels tend to be more front-loaded.  A $200M US total would be more than 10% up from Thor‘s $181M.  Where Dark World will make its real profit is overseas:  the first Thor made $268.3M outside the US, and Dark World is likely to be at $220M by tomorrow, just 2 weeks into its run and with Japan among the territories yet to open.  $350-400M overseas is doable, and even though a $550-600M worldwide total isn’t Iron Man 3 money ($1.2B around the world), it will put Disney/Marvel’s $300M production and marketing costs in the rear-view mirror.  As long as Disney can prime the pump with periodic Avengers epics, this template should keep the system in successful motion for quite a few years to come.

12  YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) reached semi-wide release with its expansion to 1144 theatres, and after a $1.85M Friday, it’s headed for a $7M weekend and a per-theatre average around $6K.  As has been the case throughout its run so far, this is a good but not remarkable number, in the same neighborhood as art-house hits Moonrise Kingdom, Precious and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  All of those ran out of steam before reaching $50M, and it remains to be seen whether critics awards and Oscar season give 12 Years more stamina.

Considering that it’s had a tiny fraction of the attention and acclaim 12 Years has generated over the past several weeks, the expansion of ABOUT TIME (Universal) didn’t go all that badly, with a $1.5M Friday at 1200 theatres.  That should give it $4.5M for the weekend and a per-theatre average close to $4K.  Without a lot of buzz going for it, though, the time-travel rom-com will likely find it difficult to hold on at that level.

HOLDOVERS:  Opening ENDER’S GAME (Summit/Lionsgate) a week before Thor was a big risk, and the 70% Friday-to-Friday drop to $2.9M shows that it didn’t pay off.  With a likely $9M weekend and $65M total in the US, and production/worldwide marketing costs at $225M+, Ender’s will now have to worry more about breaking even than about breaking a new franchise.

LAST VEGAS (CBS) and FREE BIRDS (Relativity) held very well for their constituencies, down 37% and 34% from last Friday to a respective $3.2M and $2.6M.  Each should hit $10M for the weekend, and make their way to $50M US totals, decent results for moderately-budgeted efforts.

GRAVITY (Warners) and CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) keep plugging on, down 36% and 34% week-to-week, on their way to $250M and $100M in the US.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The attempt of THE BOOK THIEF (20th) to find an entry into the year-end box office and Oscar race doesn’t seem very promising after what will probably be a $100K weekend at 4 NY/LA theatres.  That $25K average will shrink fast as the film expands, and with mediocre reviews, word-of-mouth will have to catch fire for it to have any chance.  The documentary THE ARMSTRONG LIE (Sony Pictures Classics) had a slow start, with a probable $7K average at 5 theatres.

ALL IS LOST (Lionsgate/Roadside) expanded to 401 theatres and is headed for a weekend not much over $1M and a $3K per-theatre average, likely to fall out of the Oscar picture except, of course, for Robert Redford’s Best Actor nod.  On a smaller scale, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal) expanded to 35 theatres, and should have a solid weekend per-theatre average of around $20K, impressively not much less than the $29K average it had when opening last week at only 9 theatres.  That suggests strong word-of-mouth.

NEXT WEEKEND:  No big release wanted any part of the weekend with Thor hanging on at one end and The Hunger Games opening a few days after the other.  The consequence is that only THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (Universal) will have even semi-wide distribution.  On the art-house front, Alexander Payne’s marvelous NEBRASKA (Paramount) will start its Oscar campaign in a few theatres.


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."