December 29, 2012



OPENINGS:  LES MISERABLES (Universal) fell behind DJANGO UNCHAINED (Weinstein/Sony) for the first time on Friday, because Les Miz was up only 3% from Thursday, while Django rose more impressively by 17%.  Both should be around $85M by New Year’s Day.  Conventional wisdom has it that Les Miz will benefit more from Oscar season than Django, and pull ahead in final numbers by $10-20M, but Harvey Weinstein has started one of his full-court presses for Django, and history suggests one should never underestimate the impact of those on the Academy.  For both pictures, international release (which has barely begun) will determine the degree of ultimate success, with Les Miz having an edge because it reportedly cost $60M to produce, as compared to $100M for Tarantino’s epic.  As painful as it is to admit, PARENTAL GUIDANCE (20th) is a hit, thanks to families with almost nothing else to see over the holidays.  Assuming the studio didn’t overspend (and if they did, it’s not evident on-screen), it should show a comfortable profit with $70M in all.  (Please… no sequel!)

HOLDOVERS:  THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (Warners/MGM) continues to reign over the boxoffice, up a slow 6% for the day, as it heads for $275-300M.  Even on a global basis, it’s unlikely to get much higher than the $871M earned by Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, trailing behind the other Lord of the Rings chapters.  JACK REACHER (Paramount), THIS IS 40 (Universal) and THE GUILT TRIP (Paramount) all had good days, up 27-30%, but the first two continue to be underwhelming (especially Jack Reacher, a straight-down-the-middle action movie with no excuses), and Guilt Trip is still a flop. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Weinstein) also rose strongly by 32%, but in only 745 theatres, its per-theatre average this weekend isn’t likely to be much higher than $5K, as it struggles to break through to a mainstream audience.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The only opening this pre-New Year’s weekend was PROMISED LAND (Focus/Universal), headed for a not very sturdy $6K average in 25 theatres.  THE IMPOSSIBLE (Summit/Lionsgate) leaped 42% for the day, but its likely $11K weekend average at 15 is still nothing to shout about.  NOT FADE AWAY (Paramount Vantage) expanded horribly to 19 theatres, headed for not much more than a $3K average.  ZERO DARK THIRTY (Sony) will have the best average of the weekend by far with around $55K, but Sony has to be a little concerned about the fact that it was the only picture of the entire day to fall from Thursday.  ZDT begins its expansion on January 4, going wide with the Oscar nomination announcements the following week.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The first weekends of a new year are usually ugly, and 2013 will be no exception, as the only new wide release is another (but 3D!) remake of TEXAS CHAINSAW (Lionsgate).

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."