July 27, 2013



OPENINGS:  While not an outright flop like The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, RIPD, et. al (particularly since it cost less to produce than any of those), THE WOLVERINE (20th) is underperforming in a big way.  Its estimated $21M Thursday night/Friday is the lowest start for any X-Men branded movie since the original 13 years ago (and only $215K ahead of that, which means final numbers could make it the lowest of all), and it’s likely to struggle to reach even $55M for the weekend, since that’s where X-Men: First Class ended up after a Friday that was $400K higher (and which didn’t include Thursday night revenue).  The numbers are even worse than they look, because this is the first X-Men movie to benefit from 3D ticket prices.  Fox had a tough call with scheduling Wolverine, since the studio felt–probably accurately–that it couldn’t have competed earlier in the summer with bigger-gun superhero spectacles like Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel, but by waiting till now, it’s run into a wall of action-fantasy fatigue.  The Japan-set movie was produced with an eye to international performance, particularly in Asia, so the worldwide numbers tomorrow will be critical.

FRUITVALE STATION (Weinstein) is well ahead of THE WAY, WAY BACK (Fox Searchlight) in the battle of expanding indies, although neither is looking like a true breakout hit.  Fruitvale should top $4M for the weekend after a $1.4M Friday, while Way, Way Back will be more like $3.5M after $975K on Friday, but the difference is mainly in the fact that Fruitvale is in 20% more theatres than Way, Way Back.  Both should have around a $4K average for the weekend, about $1-2K less per-theatre than what Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom averaged when they reached the 1000-theatre neighborhood last year.

It’s unclear just what the strategy was behind the release of THE TO-DO LIST (CBS), with a middling 591-theatre opening and minimal marketing spend.  Whatever it was, it isn’t working, as the comedy made only $600K on Friday and may not even reach $2M for the weekend, about a $3K per-theatre average.  Although reviews were mixed, some were highly enthusiastic, and a platform run to generate word-of-mouth might have been more effective.

HOLDOVERS:  Thinking of word-of-mouth, THE CONJURING (Warners) is clearly benefiting from exceptional audience enthusiasm, as it’s outperforming its horror genre handily, with a Friday-to-Friday drop of 57% to $7.4M, far better than Mama, Texas Chainsaw and The Purge earlier this year.  It may only fall 50% for the weekend, which would give it $23M and the very real possibility of a $125M US total.

TURBO (DreamWorks Animation) is also holding quite well, down just 39% from last Friday to $4M–but that’s still not as good as DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) in its 4th weekend, down just 36% Friday-to-Friday to $4.8M.  Turbo should have a $13M weekend, well below Despicable‘s $16M, and the DreamWorks release may not even get to $100M in the US, while Universal’s minions will top $300M by Sunday, now the summer’s #2 release in the US, behind only Iron Man 2.

There was little reason to think RIPD (Universal) would recover from its crushing start, and it didn’t, down 63% Friday-to-Friday to $1.8M.  Incredibly, the $250M (including marketing) production may not reach $40M in the US.  RED 2 is in far worse shape than it appeared to be last week, with a $2.7M Friday that was down 57% week-to-week from its opening day, compared to a mere 38% drop for the original RED.  The sequel will be lucky to reach 2/3 of the first movie’s $90.4M US total.

Longer runs continued along their previous paths, as PACIFIC RIM (Warners) fell 57% from last Friday and will hang onto foreign results for dear life with $100M at best in the US, THE LONE RANGER (Disney) plummeted another 64% and will have to console itself with at least passing John Carter and Battleship here (although perhaps not worldwide), WORLD WAR Z (Paramount) kept toiling toward $200M in the US ($190.7M so far), GROWN UPS 2 (Sony) lagged behind its predecessor (heading for $120M compared to $162M), and THE HEAT (20th) held like a champion, down just 27% from last Friday and heading to $150M+ (although probably not quite reaching Bridesmaids‘ $169.1M).

LIMITED RELEASE:  The Woodman is back.  BLUE JASMINE (Sony Pictures Classics) is one of the year’s best pictures, and it’s off to a smashing start, with a per-theatre average at 6 NY/LA houses that should be at or above $100K.  That puts it in lockstep with Midnight in Paris, which launched with a $100K average at 6 theatres 2 years ago.  Jasmine is unlikely to cross over to mainstream audiences in Midnight‘s $56.8M way, being an altogether bleaker and less funny affair, but it’s doing considerably better than last year’s To Rome With Love, which started with a $72K average at 5 and made it to $16.7M.

NEXT WEEKEND:  THE SMURFS 2 (Sony) arrives on Wednesday to put a stake in the heart of Turbo (and intelligent audiences everywhere).  On Friday, 2 GUNS (Universal) provides some more human-level action than we’ve seen recently at the multiplex, with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg handling the firearms.  The excellent THE SPECTACULAR NOW (A 24) is the highlight of the indie openings, although lovers of curiosities and train wrecks can look forward to the arrival of THE CANYONS (IFC), with the umpteenth attempted comeback of Lindsay Lohan (also available on VOD, where no one can see you walking into the theatre).


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."