August 3, 2013



OPENINGS:  The production budget for 2 GUNS (Universal) was funded by producers Emmett/Furla and Foresight Entertainment, with Universal just on the hook for marketing and distribution.  In addition, the overseas distribution is being handled by other studios.  All of this limits Universal’s risk and also its upside, and since the movie had a $10M Friday (midrange for Denzel Washington) and is headed for a likely $27M weekend (ditto), in the end it’ll amount to a few bucks of profit for the studio, no more than a piece of business.

Everyone knows THE SMURFS 2 (Sony) is all about its foreign release, since the first Smurfs made 75% of its revenue outside the US, but the sequel is pushing it.  Friday was at a lousy $5.5M (just over 40% of the first Smurfs‘ $13.6M, although the new one opened on Wednesday), which may give it a $17M weekend and $26M over its first 5 days.  (The first made $35.6M in 3 days.)  That could easily mean a sub-$100M total for the sequel in the US, and even if it again triples that result overseas, a similar decline would mean a final worldwide result as much as $200M less than the first.

HOLDOVERS:  THE WOLVERINE (20th) clanked with a 69% drop from last Friday to $6.4M, giving it a weekend that might reach $20M.  With a US total likely to peter out around $125-135M, even the movie’s reasonable production cost will require strong results overseas to hit much in the way of profit.

Although THE WAY, WAY BACK (Fox Searchlight) and FRUITVALE STATION (Weinstein) are doing fine for the indie world, neither appears capable of becoming a crossover hit.  Way Back added about 10% to its theatre count for a 1001 total and still fell 18% Friday-to-Friday to $800K, heading for a $2.5M weekend and perhaps $25M.  Fruitvale stayed put at 1086 theatres and fell a heavy 48% from last Friday, with a $2.2M weekend and $20M total seemingly in store.

TURBO (DreamWorks Animation/20th) developed no momentum, falling 55% from last Friday to $1.9M, and unlikely to get near $100M in the US.  DreamWorks Animation honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg expressed confidence this week that the movie would hit profit overseas (where 3D animation usually overperforms), but it’ll have its work cut out for it.  Obviously Turbo wasn’t helped by the arrival of Smurfs 2, but that didn’t trouble DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) nearly as much, as it slipped just 36% to $3.1M on Friday.  Comcast announced this week that Despicable 2 will be the most profitable release in Universal’s history, thanks to its enormous box office (currently $692.3M worldwide) and relatively low cost.

With the exception of R.I.P.D. (Universal), still dead with a 62% Friday-to-Friday drop to $700K (remarkably, even though R.I.P.D. cost $100M less than The Lone Ranger, it may lose as much money as that disaster, or even more), most remaining holdovers were in good shape, with drops in the 34-42% range.  These included THE CONJURING (Warners), RED 2 (Lionsgate/Summit), GROWN UPS 2 (Sony) and even PACIFIC RIM (Warners), although in the latter case it meant only a $1.3M Friday, as the movie flails to reach $100M in the US.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE SPECTACULAR NOW (A24) is off to a strong start, with what should be close to a $50K weekend average at 4 NY/LA theatres.  THE CANYONS (IFC) is strictly a VOD play for IFC, but it may make $20K in its 1 token theatre.  EUROPA REPORT (Magnolia), despite some surprisingly strong reviews, will have a $5-6K average at 3.  (Note:  BLUE JASMINE had its first expansion this weekend, to 48 theatres, but Sony Pictures Classics doesn’t release daily box office numbers, just weekend totals.)

NEXT WEEKEND:  The final big gamble of summer arrives with ELYSIUM (TriStar/Sony), the follow-up to surprise smash District 9 from director Neil Blomkamp.  This time he has a much bigger budget and a cast that includes Matt Damon and Jodie Foster to play with.  Friday also brings yet another animated feature, PLANES (Disney).  Prior to those, both the R-rated sitcom WE’RE THE MILLERS (Warners) and the who-exactly-asked-for-this? sequel PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS (20th) arrive on Wednesday.  A trio of Sundance titles hit limited release:  IN A WORLD… (Roadside), PRINCE AVALANCHE (Magnolia) and LOVELACE (Radius/Weinstein), the latter two also on VOD.


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."