February 1, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 1/31/14


Even by Super Bowl Weekend standards, this one is likely to be dim.

OPENINGS:  Despite aggressive preliminary estimates, THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (Focus/Universal) couldn’t even carry the day on Friday with $3.9M, and seems to be heading for a $9.5M weekend (all titles will drop precipitously on Sunday because of the game).  Focus acquired Awkward on the cheap, and isn’t promoting it heavily, but it’s still a soft start for the new studio regime, and another blow to Zac Efron’s bid to be taken seriously as an adult actor.

Everyone has known for months that LABOR DAY (Paramount) was a dud, at least since its Toronto Film Festival screening last fall, and it has indeed flopped badly with only $1.9M on Friday and perhaps a $5M weekend.  Even with a reported $18M production budget and minimal marketing, that will make it director Jason Reitman’s second flop in a row after Young Adult, and it puts pressure on his next effort.  The box office result also confirms that as critically acclaimed as Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin may be, their names don’t sell tickets.

HOLDOVERS:  RIDE ALONG (Universal) should have a fairly easy time holding onto first place, down just 37% Friday-to-Friday to $4M for what should be a $12M weekend.  The interesting battle will be for 2d place, where That Awkward Moment will be challenged by FROZEN (Disney), thanks to the studio’s sing-along campaign to bring in repeat viewers.  Amazingly, Frozen climbed 10% Friday-to-Friday after 10 weeks in multiplexes, and it could hit $9-10M for the weekend.  That will put it just behind Despicable Me 2‘s $368.1M as the highest-grossing animated film in the US to open in 2013, and Frozen should take that title in a week or two.

LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) is also holding well, down 36% from last Friday to $2.3M.  it will go over $100M today, and should have a $8M weekend.  JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (Paramount) didn’t drop much, down 31% on a week-to-week basis, but its $1.8M is anemic, and it’s struggling even to reach $50M in the US, which won’t even pay for its marketing.  THE NUT JOB (Open Road) is doing nicely with Frozen‘s leavings, down 31% from last Friday to $1.8M, and likely to pass $50M by Sunday.

The awards brigade–AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony), THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Paramount/Red Granite), AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (Weinstein), 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight)–are all sturdy, down 20-36% from last Friday, with the first three near or above $1M on Friday.  GRAVITY (Warners) re-expanded to 1132 mostly 3D theatres and added a few bucks ($600K on Friday) to its total.

I, FRANKENSTEIN (Lionsgate) crashed by 62% on Friday to $1.1M, and may not even reach $20M in the US, a dead loss (and unlike the monster, one that will stay dead).

LIMITED RELEASE:  The only arrival worth noting was TIM’S VERMEER (Sony Pictures Classics), which didn’t get the Best Documentary Oscar nomination it was seeking.  It had a $4500 average at 4 theatres on Friday, but that was boosted by celebrity Q&As by Penn & Teller and the movie’s subject, and is probably headed for an OK $12.5K weekend average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Things will be much busier as the 2014 movie season finally gets off the ground.  THE LEGO MOVIE (Warners) should take the family mangle from Frozen, George Clooney’s postponed THE MONUMENTS MEN (Sony) makes its debut, and VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) will chase the YA audience.


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."