January 19, 2013



The Martin Luther King Day holiday tends to be a day off more for schoolchildren than for adult employees, meaning that at the boxoffice, it benefits family movies–of which there’s a distinct shortage right now.  For adult-oriented films, the Friday gross is often around 25-30% of the 4-day weekend total (with new openings at the low end of that range, since they’re usually more frontloaded).

OPENINGS:  MAMA (Universal), aided by generally strong reviews, will be the easy winner this weekend, with a $10M Friday that should put it at $30M+ by the end of the holiday.  BROKEN CITY (20th), though, had a release patterned after last January’s Mark Wahlberg hit Contraband, but the parallel didn’t hold, as Broken‘s $3M Friday was just 35% of Contraband‘s first day, and Broken will probably have a 4-day total of about $9M.  Even that looked good compared to THE LAST STAND (Lionsgate), as it turned out Americans couldn’t care less about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to starring roles, with a $2M start that will probably give it a puny $6M 4-day weekend.

HOLDOVERS:  SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Weinstein), at long last, expanded to 2523 theaters, but although that tripled its screen count, it only doubled the movie’s Friday boxoffice, giving it a less-than-thrilling $1200 average for the day and $3M, on its way to a $10M 4-day total.  The big question for those with a financial interest in Silver Linings is whether the movie’s enormous marketing costs (which will continue to add up for at least 6 more weeks until the Oscars) will wipe out any profit from the moderately-budgeted comedy-drama.

With a lot of new action product in theaters, ZERO DARK THIRTY (Sony) fell 50% from last Friday, with $16M or so likely for the 4-day holiday.  The news was better for other Oscar hopefuls, as LINCOLN (Disney/DreamWorks/20th), DJANGO UNCHAINED (Weinstein/Sony) and LES MISERABLES (Universal) all slipped just 23-36% from last week.  LIFE OF PI (20th) and ARGO (Warners) supplemented their theater counts and notched increases from last week (Golden Globe winner Argo was particularly impressive, adding 20% more theaters but rising 68%).  Meanwhile, SKYFALL (Sony/MGM) hit its $300M milestone in the US, the biggest hit of the holiday season but still just a fraction of its worldwide $1B total.

GANGSTER SQUAD (Warners) fell 60% from last Friday, on its way to a $9-10M 4-day weekend and a total that won’t cover its marketing budget.  The frontloaded A HAUNTED HOUSE (Open Road) slumped by 65%, but at a much lower budget, its $9-10M weekend looks a lot better.

LIMITED RELEASE:  No major openings this weekend (because all indie movie eyes are aimed at Sundance?), and no news yet on the expansion of QUARTET (Weinstein) to 32 theaters.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The postponed HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (Paramount) probably counts as the major opening, with Jason Statham’s latest vehicle PARKER (FilmDistrict) and the all-star sketch-comedy MOVIE 43 (Relativity) behind.

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."