August 31, 2013



OPENINGS:  The $8.9M start for ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US (TriStar/Sony), which includes $2.7M from Thursday night, was behind only the Justin Bieber concert movie ($12.4M) among recent debuts in its genre, surpassing efforts devoted to Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Michael Jackson and The Jonas Brothers.  The Bieber picture declined on Saturday and slumped a heavy 40% on its opening Sunday, but the dynamics were different, since that weekend didn’t include either Thursday earnings or a holiday Monday, so it’s unclear how This Is Us will fare.  Also:  sometime today This Is Us will become the highest-grossing picture of director Morgan Spurlock’s career, beating the $11.5M for his Super Size Me in less than two days.

The Latino market has become increasingly important to the major studios, and INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED (Lionsgate) explains why.  With little mainstream publicity and just a 347-theatre opening, the sentimental comedy brought in $1.9M on Friday, a $5500 average that was far above the $3200 for This Is Us.  That kind of niche appeal often leads to extreme frontloading, but Instructions is off to a terrific start.

Ethan Hawke has run the gamut this summer, from the fantastically well-reviewed art film Before Midnight to the extremely successful low-budget thriller The Purge, and now to the big-studio flop GETAWAY (Warners).  The final movie under producer Joel Silver’s long tenure at Warners (he’s since moved to Universal), Getaway got some of the most scorching reviews of the year (2% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), and not even Selena Gomez fans showed up, for a wretched $1.4M start at over 2000 theatres.  (His mortgage paid for the moment, Hawke is moving on to play Macbeth at Lincoln Center.

CLOSED CIRCUIT (Focus/Universal) was after the upscale thriller audience that was there for The Debt and The American on recent Labor Day weekends, but without an easily digestible topic like Nazi war criminals or the presence of George Clooney, it hasn’t found them.  Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall don’t sell tickets, the very British subject (it revolves around a particular quirk of UK anti-terrorism law) didn’t help, and reviews were downbeat (44% at Rotten Tomatoes).  The result was a mere $750K at 862 theatres.

Wong Kar-Wai’s THE GRANDMASTER (Weinstein) expanded to a semi-wide 749 theatres, but there were few takers for its idiosyncratic mix of martial arts and doomed, elliptical romance.  It managed only $740K, under $1K per theatre.

HOLDOVERS:  The hits and flops mostly stayed that way.  THE BUTLER (Weinstein), WE’RE THE MILLERS (Warners) and PLANES (Disney) all slipped just 23-27% from last Friday, to a respective $3.6M, $3.1M and $1.7M.  ELYSIUM (TriStar/Sony), now that it’s too late to do any real good, also held well with just a 22% decline to $1.6M.  Meanwhile, BLUE JASMINE (Sony Pictures Classics), despite losing about 8% of its theatres, declined only 16% from last Friday to $1M, and seems on the way to a $30M total, which would make it Woody Allen’s 2d-biggest hit of the past quarter-century.  But THE WORLD’S END (Focus/Universal) and YOU’RE NEXT (Lionsgate) both collapsed by 62% from last week, to $1.3M and $1.1M–a particular disappointment for World’s End, which with its strong reviews (90% positive) and older characters should have had longer-lasting appeal.  THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (Screen Gems/Sony) wasn’t much better, falling 54% from last Friday to $1.4M.

The relative quiet of Labor Day Weekend also encouraged WORLD WAR Z (Paramount) to make one final push at the $200M US box office milestone, and despite a lousy $220 per-theatre average on Friday, its burst back to 1247 theatres should just barely get it there.

LIMITED RELEASE:  There were no major openings this weekend (we’ll know more about the platform expansions tomorrow), but Sundance prize-winner AFTERNOON DELIGHT (Film Arcade) seems headed to an OK $15K start in each of 2 theatres.

NEXT WEEKEND:  As usual, the fall movie season will start slowly, while the industry’s attention is mostly aimed at the festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto.  The only major opening is RIDDICK (Universal), the movie Vin Diesel wanted as recompense for all the Fast and Furious revenue he’s given the studio.  Also, the high-profile literary tell-all documentary SALINGER (Weinstein) will make a limited debut.


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."