January 12, 2013



OPENINGS:  ZERO DARK THIRTY (Sony) expanded to coincide with its Oscar nominations, and the strategy worked as planned, with the acclaimed (and, in some circles, attacked) drama easily carrying Friday with $9M, on its way to $25-27M for the weekend.

It’s a massive embarrassment for GANGSTER SQUAD (Warners) that it was beaten by the low-rent parody A HAUNTED HOUSE (Open Road) on Friday, even if the margin was just $35,000 (both rounded up to $6.7M), and even though Haunted will almost certainly turn out to be more front-loaded and will fade to 3rd place over the course of the weekend.  Nevertheless:  Gangster Squad cost a reported $75M, and it’s not clear if that included the cost of extensive post-Aurora reshoots (it definitely doesn’t include marketing), while Haunted House reportedly cost $2.5M, so anything that looks like a tie between them is a big win for the underdog.

HOLDOVERS:  The Oscar nominations only paid off in a big way for a couple of the major nominees.  LINCOLN (Disney/DreamWorks/20th) looks more unassailable than ever, up 15% from last Friday (it did increase its theater count by 5%) to what should be a $6M weekend and a running total over $150M, with weeks of Oscar play in store that should take it to $175M.  SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Weinstein) gave this weekend to Zero Dark Thirty, holding its long-awaited national expansion for one more week (although it did add 10% more theaters this week), and it was up an impressive 36% over last Friday, ready to go over $40M by the end of the weekend.

Other nominees were more subdued.  LES MISERABLES (Universal) and DJANGO UNCHAINED (Weinstein/Sony) were both down 44% for the day, a particular blow for Les Miz, which all along was counting on Oscar nominations to rouse a broader audience.  LIFE OF PI (20th) was down 20% from last Friday, although (oddly) it also dropped about 20% of its theaters this weekend.  An attempt to stir up memories for ARGO by doubling its theater count to 621 didn’t yield much, with a likely $1M weekend.

The remaining holiday movies are cooling down.  THE HOBBIT: AN EXPECTED JOURNEY (Warners/MGM) fell 55% from last Friday, and will have a hard time making its way to a $300M US total (although it’s far bigger overseas).  PARENTAL GUIDANCE (20th), JACK REACHER (Paramount) and THIS IS 40 (Universal) are all likely to fall around 45% for the weekend, all headed for $70-80M totals. which will be quite good for the first, a disappointment for the second, and OK for the third.

Oh, and TEXAS CHAINSAW (Lionsgate) inevitably faced slaughter in its second weekend, down about 70% for a total that won’t be much over $40M, although that’s enough that the various producers and rightsholders are already fighting over who has the right to produce a(nother) sequel.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Dustin Hoffman’s QUARTET (Weinstein) made its nomination-less return to release after an unsuccessful qualification run in December, and should have a decent $20K average in 2 NY/LA opera houses.  A flat-out rave in the NY Times for the little indie FAIRHAVEN (Dada) yielded nothing, as the picture will probably only have a $2500 average at 2 theatres.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The long Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend is bringing several arrivals, including the thriller BROKEN CITY (20th) with Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, horror movie MAMA (Universal) starring Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first post-gubernatorial starring role in THE LAST STAND (Lionsgate).  In addition, as mentioned, Silver Linings Playbook will finally expand to wide release.

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."